Her room was on the second floor, the same one I’d seen when I first approached the taverna. Lenanja stood at the window overlooking the beach. The room smelled of wood soaked with sea mist. On the far side of the room was a straw bed, and beside the bed was a bureau with a white candle, a bottle, and a cigarillo atop it.
“Those men down there are plotting your demise,” Lemanja said, turning from the window to walk over to the bureau.
“Let them,” I said. “Your name is Lemanja.”
She bent and lit the cigarillo with the candle’s flame. “How do you know my name?”
“The Guitarrista told me.”
“Ah, yes, the mysterious Guitarrista.” She exhaled a stream of smoke. The acrid scent of nanye hit me. I reached up to cover my nose as she walked across the room and sat on the windowsill. She offered me the cigarillo.
I waved it away. “Nanye will kill you.” I choked on the smell. “Eventually, it kills everyone who uses it.”
She took another drag and shrugged. “So does life.”
Taking short breaths to minimize the nanya I inhaled, I sat on the sill as close to her as I could stand. My mind felt distant, as though I were outside of myself watching the situation happen. Such were the effects of the drug. It took you a thousand miles from your pain, but in doing so, it took you a thousand miles from everything else, as well.
As I sat there hating and fearing the nanye, my eyes were still drawn irresistibly to Lemanja. Even as she inhaled poison she was beautiful. “Do you work in this taverna?”
“Vanderlei lets me stay. He’s the one with the broken eye.”
“Are you his woman?”
She laughed. “He thinks so. For him, woman is just another word for prisoner.”
“Are you his prisoner?”
“No. Not his.” She blew a stream of smoke into the air outside where it dissipated into shapes of tortured ghosts before disappearing altogether.
“What are you doing so far from home?”