Mexico City

Enrico pulled his drone out of his bedroom closet and strapped on the goggles. Through the darting and hovering eyes of hummingbird, he saw an unrecognizable city below. More and more pilgrims arrived every day. Parked cars and RVs clogged streets and highways. Thieves crept along vehicles, siphoning off any fuel they could find. They needn’t have used such stealth because nowhere else and nothing else could offer salvation like the basilica.

        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 camp Tent Town for its colorful patchwork of tents, hanging bed sheets and fat-caterpillar sleeping bags. Pilgrims 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, pulling wind-blown strands of long hair from 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.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe enshrined within the Basilica.

Our Lady of Guadalupe enshrined within the Basilica.