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La vendetta è mia. Vengeance is mine—
TASTE OF VENGEANCE
Rio de Janiero
Every which way I turned, it seemed there was a masked figure leering at me, reaching for me, hands and eyes and mouths stretching and elongating to the throbbing beat of the samba music.
Fingers caressed me intimately as I squeezed my frame through the mass of bodies swelling the street. I shrank from the inevitable petting, a cupped hand reaching to fondle my breast, a lingering caress. My nerves were electric, my body tense as I imagined the cool blade of a knife sliding between my rib cage. As I wove through the crowd, a popping sound made me jump. It was all too easy to imagine the crack of fireworks as a volley of gunfire. I kept walking. I didn’t have time to fight off the sensual assault coming at me from all sides. I could only hope the man who hunted me wasn’t the next body I brushed against.
The pulsating, movement of the parade gave me more refuge than the sidewalks, where someone running among the stationary spectators would attract attention. That type of exposure could be fatal. So, I ran into the thicket of bodies. I bore the stroking of strangers, slipping through the squirming mass, emerging slick with their sweat only to be embraced by the next clump of costumed humanity.
Ahead, I could see a massive float spreading across the entire street. To get around it, I’d have to mingle with the crowd on the sidewalks. I’d have to take my chances.
That became clearer when the parade abruptly ground to a halt for the start of a new samba school performance.
Afraid to move my head and attract attention, I strained to see, using my peripheral vision to scan the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall figure I would’ve recognized anywhere. He was headed my way.
Despite the bauta mask—a white grotesque face with a large nose, no mouth, and creepy beak-like chin—I knew it was him.
At that moment, he looked up and our eyes met. Both of us masked but instantly recognizing one another.
We held each other’s gaze for a second before I darted, toppling people as I went, throwing apologies over my shoulder as I created a human domino effect to stop the man trying to kill me.
I reached the sidewalk and paused. A door lay before me, but it could be locked. To the right of the door was a passageway. But it could be a dead end.
There was no time for indecision so I started toward the passageway. Before I could take a step, I felt cold steel on my neck.
I’d run out of time.
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