The street sang to me, bare feet to concrete, calluses scraping off and growing hard again, and ever step let me hear the city’s song. On this corner, a sixteen-year old girl was raped by four Tans just coming into their teens. That was about three hours ago; the rain was washing her blood and the memory of her pain away, and I left bloody footprints on the skin of the city. I ran a hand over the bench at the bus stop, stirred up the ghosts of ancient orgasms, true love declared in quickies between stops, and felt like a voyeur with an ear to the door. The television in the shop window called to me, eldritch secrets from outside my headspace. I stopped to give it worship.
A forest of microphones stood up, odd stamens in the growth-cycle of the journalist creed. I imagined the women wet and ovulating, hoping some of the pollen being spread on the breeze would finds its way to them. Undoubtedly, someone would leave this press conference pregnant.
“Mr. President, would you like to comment on the wedding performed this morning at the White House?”
The old man smiled like your grandfather caught with a bit of porn on the way out of the bathroom, endearing and innocent as long as you didn’t think too hard about what just happened.
“It was a favor to a pair of very good friends of mine, the new Mr. and Mrs. Wylie-Smith. We have known each other for years and they’ve been diligent supporters for my campaign, so I agreed to host the ceremony.”
A babble and crush from the reporters, a thousand questions. One of them screamed to be heard about the others, waving her black phallus microphone taller than the rest.
“Is it true the bride was nude?”
I willed the universe to end, to flip the channel with my brain.
The rusty speakers announced Haagenti led Gaap in the polls by six points, the dollar was down, the Pandemonium Pitfiends were ahead by three field goals and sex desecrated cheerleaders, and the toilet chimed the hour as Jaxon Tremaine finally found his way back from the sole restroom to a seat at the bar, a perilous journey of six paces over three dead drunks and around a spittoon curling with sulfurous yellow smoke. The haggard shade behind the counter coaxed up the volume a notch as news from the front came in, laid a couple drops of liquid smoke in front of us, and disappeared. I waited until Jaxon had his shot before I pressed the square-cut barrel dig into his ribs. With the practiced ease of a stoolie, he slowly laid his empty hands on the bar.
“I got a couple dollars in my back pocket, and a sacrament. My soul belongs to Barbas.”
“Paulina Rigamenti.” I said.
“Vaxas’s clan, down-pit.”
“But you know her.”
“Not really. She’s from down pit. Likes to get a taste of what’s outside the Old Wall from time to time. That’s all.”
“Where is she?”
“Fuck, I dunno boss.”
I flipped the channel again, bored and angry at the television gods that spoke to me through their storefront oracle.
When the security people came down to the cubicle gulag, I froze. It wasn’t a question if they had found out something, it’s what they had found out—the copy of Tetris loaded in the spreadsheet file? The proxy browser that let my bypass the work firewall? The CD with all the freeware that was better than the crap they were paying thousands of dollars each year in licenses for?
“Ms. Nunez.” One of them said. “Your presence has been requested downstairs. We’ve been asked to escort you.”
It was a head, decapitated, rotting. There was a WXR jack installed at the back of its neck, the thin scars along the neck and jawbone suggested wires. I looked a question.
“We think it’s Russian.” Her boss said. “We need you to do an evaluation.”
Bile surged through me, and in a burst of static we returned to our regular scheduled program.
“…have been members of the Wiccan faith for many years.” The President explained. “It is traditional in the ceremonies of their particular coven that the bride and groom should be skyclad.”