It always occurs to me, after little scuffles like these, that I’d be dead or dying if they hadn’t lifted Martial Law. The police and military had no use, or mercy, for vigilante justice of any kind. It didn’t matter if you were killing the resurrected dead, or your grannie, the authorities would put you down like a dog—actually, with more speed, and less mercy, than they would euthanize an animal—for breaking the law.
As it was, I had a small audience clustered around my motorcycle when I hobbled back.
“Dude, that was some fucking spectacular work!” One random guy said, and clapped me, hard, on the shoulder. Because I didn’t kill him instantly, everyone else took it as permission to do the same.
Have you ever felt like a ping-pong ball?
“Hey! Good job, really!” Swat!
Look! Here I go, back over the net! Hooray!
“Damned fine shot, son. Damned fine.” Punch to the arm!
Woo! Over the net!
“God! That was so hot!” Clutched to a massive, sweaty bosom.
Shit! That’s the table top…but softer and smellier.
“People!” I pulled out of the embrace of piggies. (I knew they were piggies, because I could see their noses through the front of her shirt—pink and everything.) “I just got beat up, and I’ve got two kinds of puke on me!”
The micro-throng stepped backward in unison.
I turned back to piggy-chest lady, and gave her a particularly prickly version of the evil eye.
“You, honey, just hugged a man coated in vomit. What? You couldn’t smell me?” I got up in her grill and allowed my vapors to waft across her olfactory intake ports. “Hey? Can you smell me now?”
Her eyes started to tear up, and I should have run away. This is what they call “20-20 hindsight”. She gave me her answer, but it wasn’t in English. As far as I’ve ever been able to research, “Huuarrgggaaaa-sploosh,” isn’t in the dictionary.
My adoring fans fled, leaving me bruised, sore, and covered in a brand new coat of bile.
“Serves me right.” I blinked and looked around. “There’s a fountain around here somewhere.”
Across the road, I found exactly what I was looking for: a decorative water feature that still worked. God knows, I’d rather be soaking wet than looking like a walking ad for Jackson Pollock. I walked the bike over, and attended to improving my overall hygiene.
The first thing I did was wash off my sword. A good carbon steel blade shouldn’t be exposed to bodily fluids, oils, or acids for any length of time. The sword I carried that day was forged out of L-6 steel by a friend of mine in Fairfax. L-6 is a saw blade steel, and it will corrode and turn funny colors if you look at it askance.
On the bright side, that steel also holds an insane edge, and can be tempered in such a way that it will survive being bent 90 degrees and flex back with no damage.
I laid the blade to the side, beside the scabbard, and added my .45 to the still life of dangerous tools. I took off my shirt, threw it in the water, and dunked myself into the cold, slightly brackish, water.
Calling it cold was something of an understatement. My nipples crinkled up like kettle-cooked potato chips, and I squealed into the dark water. Needless to say, I washed off as fast as humanly possible, and attended to my shirt with the same manic speed.
When I was done, I sat on the concrete lip of the fountain and wrung out my shirt. The sun would take care of drying my hair, and the wet shirt would dry by doing an impersonation of a pennant, flying off the back of my bike. I guessed it would be almost moisture free if I drove fast enough.
I wiped the sword off on a clean patch of my pants, and slid it back home into the wooden, brass-bound, sheath. My swordmaker, Scott Lewis, was practical. He didn’t have the facilities to make a fiberglass saya (the correct term for a Japanese sword scabbard), so he used rock maple, and bound it in brass bands. It was fucking gorgeous, and it hit like a professional baseball bat. Ask me how I know.
I massaged my chest to bring back some of the warmth, once the sword was at rest. My nipples had ripples, and that couldn’t be tolerated.