In the seventeen summers Gus has spent living on the streets, this year is the worst. All those other summers contained options, like a cool library or fast food bathroom, but this summer contains only hunger, pain and delirium. The heatwave has been going on for weeks, and Gus can actually feel his socks growing into the fabric of his foot as a result of the constant layer of foul moisture that connects the two surfaces. He stretches out in the foyer of one of the city's many boarded up businesses and cools off the best he can before he has to make his daily trip to the distant arroyo drainage tunnels for his evening defecation.
A hypnic jerk pulls him out of the unwanted sleep he was drifting towards and he stands up to get some blood moving so he can stay awake. The journey to the tunnels is fraught with dangerous fiends who were driven to the streets by madness or driven to madness by the streets, and if he leaves too late they will be at their most malevolent. From dusk to dawn darkness also dwells within the heart of humans, waiting for a stray beam like himself to vanquish in their shadows. "Not tonight fiends," he repeats in his head like a mantra as he does jumping jacks and a little thing he likes to call the Draconian Death Chop.
As he unleashes a hellstorm of deadly downward blows on an imaginary enemy, a woman approaches. When she gets closer he notices that she has paws instead of hands. They are beautiful paws, with fine black and silver hairs, but that doesn't make it right. People think they can just get away with anything these days. While passing she brushes him with her tail, which is also beautiful, and oddly arousing, but this is really getting out of control. What next, a school of boy scouts with fins and flippers? The woman turns around, winks, and makes some kind of strange chirping sound. It's too much, so he decides to tell her so.
"You ain't right. You ain't right and I don't have to accept it. If you come around here again brushing people with your lusty tail I will report it immediately to the Queen," he says self-assuredly, giving the proclamation punctuation with gestures and expressions that anyone would be forced to take seriously.
The woman does a huff thing, both physically and verbally, and storms off like a rejected child. He watches her walk away until she disappears in the distance, telling himself it is so that he can be sure that she is really gone, but actually because he cannot take his eyes off that gorgeous tail. Gus wishes he would have paid attention in school the day they taught about tails, because he has no clue how to identify the species. Likely mink, maybe fox? Damn you, you carnally bewitching chimera hottie!
Next one of the street sweeper robot things heads his way, and he backs into the foyer to avoid contact. He considers just running away. Doesn't trust the damn things, never will. In the end he decides to stand his ground. He makes a note to tell the Queen of Albuquerque how he feels about this robot business the next time he visits with her. She may not always agree, but she always listens and tries to understand, which he considers to be the most important quality in a leader. You cannot please everyone, but you can allow them to at least be heard.
Gus panics as the robot stops a few feet away and turns toward him. This is it, I knew it. Damn you, humanity, and your infernal contraptions! Unexpectedly, unsure whether this is not supposed to happen or just usually doesn't, the robot speaks to him.
"Did you see the one with the paws?" the robot follows the question with a retching sound. "Disgusting. What is wrong with people these days, you know what I mean?"
This puts Gus at ease. Now he is actually kinda feelin' this robot, so he responds, "I know exactly what you mean."
"Like, what's next, a school of boy scouts with fins and flippers?" the robot continues to banter.
"Hey, that is exactly w-w...w-what I thought!" Gus stuttered his double-yous like he does when he gets excited. Now he is really rethinking this whole robot business. Maybe the paranoia is unjustified. Maybe these are the new good guys and humans are the danger to the preservation of common sense. It is a lot to take in.
"Do me a favor and don't shit around here, kay bud?" the street sweeper thingy admonishes, and before Gus can even get indignant it turns and speeds away. For good measure he shakes his fist at it anyway, and then finishes with a few heavy duty chops.
What atrocity will invade the kingdom next? What upcoming impertinence will rattle the very foundations of a good and decent world? He hoped he would not have to answer that question, at least not tonight. Though it was apparent he was in some kind of vortex, so he gathered his few belongings and decided to get a head start on his voyage to the tunnels.
He only made it about three blocks when he was confronted by a snowman, which immediately began jabbering at him like a drunken used car salesman. If this didn't take the cake. Two weeks of some of the hottest days of the year, and this inebriated Frosty-looking motherfucker has the nerve to just walk around like it's President's Day? This is too much, this I will not accept. This is where I draw the line.
Gus starts choppin'. Choppin' like the fate of the universe lies in every swing he takes. Choppin' like snow gotta know, and snow gonna know, that this kind of nonsense will not be permitted. These are the Queen's streets and he will not have them disgraced with impossible presences, no matter how jovial they come off. Not on my watch, snowtrash, not on my watch.
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