Enrico pulled his drone out of his bedroom closet and carried it to the balcony. When he strapped on the goggles, he saw his unrecognizable city through the darting and hovering eyes of a hummingbird. More and more pilgrims arrived at the basilica every day. Parked cars and RVs clogged streets and highways. Thieves crept along the line of vehicles at night, siphoning off any fuel they could find with hoses and canisters. Such stealth was unnecessary. All eyes, except Enrico’s, were trained ahead and looking for salvation.
When the drone’s batteries died, Enrico switched the lens on his telescope and trained it down instead of up.
“Looks like we’re back to spying the old fashioned way,” his father called out.
He always hated the drone.
Enrico named the city Tent Town after pilgrims spread fat-caterpillar sleeping bags onto the ground and hung a colorful patchwork of bedsheets for curtains. They lit prayer candles after dusk. Looking down from his balcony, Enrico thought of the firefly sanctuary east of the city in Tlaxcala. Only the prayer lights didn’t blink in syncopated rhythm; they burned steady, illuminating the hands and faces of His faithful.
Enrico’s mother stood by him at night. She either waited for a turn at the telescope or leaned over the rail and into the updraft, shaking gold strands of hair out of her eyes and the crease of her full lips.
“So pretty,” she whispered.
It was such an awe-filled, confused statement that it almost sounded like a question. The lights were lovely but there was a putrid smell on rising gusts. There was hysteria in the echoes of collective prayers from below.