"Wow," she said, "I've never been in a Moslem country before."
He looked over his shoulder at the door they'd just come through, but there was no door in evidence. They were in the middle of a large outdoor marketplace.
"Well, it's not all Muslims," he said. "Many of the people who live here are Coptic Christians."
"Is that a sexual thing?" she asked.
"No," he said. "I think it's short for copacetic."
"I see," she said, stopping to examine a stall piled with oranges and pomegranates. "These look copacetic," she said.
Rounding a corner, they came upon a half dozen Nazi storm troopers lounging under the awning of some sort of museum.
"Shit," she said. "Nazis!"
"It must be the '30s then," he said. "Or maybe a bit later." Then after a moment, "You're not Jewish, are you?"
"Do I look Jewish with these wings?" she asked. Rhetorically.
"They can't see your wings under the jalaba. Good thing, too."
Just then a preppy looking guy in a v-neck sweater vest shouted "CUT!" and the Nazis broke for lunch.
"Oh," she said. "I guess it's just a movie."
"Maybe it's Casablanca," he said.
"Maybe," she said. "But this is Alexandria and that was Casablanca."
"I think it was shot in Hollywood," he said. "If you'd brought your Blackberry we could look it up on the Internet Movie Database."
"I did bring it," she said. "Hold on a sec."
But suddenly she grabbed his arm. "Look!" she said, "Over there just getting off that boat. I'm pretty sure that's Mircea Eliade!"
"Mircea Eliade, Romanian dude who wrote about shamans and yoga and hung out with the fascists in the Iron Guard and the Legion of the Archangel Michael."
"How do you know these things?" he wondered aloud.
"It's from research for a blog I've been writing."
"Oh, you mean Mystic Bourgeoisie? I guess I'm on your list, but I never actually read your posts."
"Don't feel bad, she said. "Nobody does. But look, I think I'm going to have to 'appear' to him."
"What? Appear to Eliade?"
"Yeah," she said, "it'll be a goof."
"You think you can pass for a Michael?" he asked. "Won't he notice your tits?"
"Are you kidding? He'll get off on it. I always suspected he was a little trans. Come on, let's follow him to his hotel."
Mircea Eliade pushed his way into the shabby room and set down his suitcase. What an ordeal the passage from India had been. He took a piss and washed his face, then dug out a tiny parcel from his bag. Good thing I brought the last of the opium, he thought.
He sat in the threadbare chair facing the wall and prepared to smoke. He hadn't slept well in days and this would help. Then he remembered the mescaline. Should he? Oh what the hell, why not get good and ripped?
"What are you looking for?" he asked as they hurried through stall after stall in the bazaar.
"A sword," she said. "I need to have a sword."
"What for?" he asked, perplexed.
"For killing the dragon. The Archangel Michael kills a dragon, doesn't he? Or an ouroboros or some shit, I forget."
"You're taking this 'appearance' seriously, aren't you?"
"It's a historic fucking opportunity," she said. "This will shape the Weltanschauung of romantic coeds for untold generations!"
Suddenly, the wall exploded.
He caught a glimpse of a coal-black man wielding a sledge hammer, but then he was gone. Mircea Eliade nearly plotzed, but he was way too stoned to move. As the plaster dust settled, he found himself staring slack-jawed at a beautiful angel, it's wings outstretched.
"Greetings, Mircea! I am the Archangel Michael." She was brandishing a furled umbrella.
"Holy Fuck!" he said.
"Fear not," she soothed.
"B-b-but you have TITS," he stammered.
"It's a Coptic thing," she explained. "But never mind that. You know the guy who told you to go to India? That Italian baron guy?"
"You mean Julius Evola?"
"That's the one."
"What about him?" he asked, feeling odd to be talking with an angel in his hotel room. It was probably the drugs, wasn't it?
"I have a message for that guy," she said. "Are you listening?"
"You have my undivided attention," said Eliade. If anything, it verged dangerously on understatement.
"Tell him he's next," she said.
Then with a numinous look, the angel shot open the umbrella and was gone.
For a long time he sat there staring at the hole where the wall had been. Vines and lianas were growing in the rubble. Particolored snakes were speaking to him in some lost Mayan tongue, but he was elsewhere now.
"I wonder," he thought, "if there isn't an archetypal element in Mary Poppins?"