This town gives me the creeps.

It’s not just the pelts, I guess, or the ‘squitoes. It’s not even the other Lost, really, I’ve met stranger. Maybe it’s all the lights and noises and casinos, it could be that. Milwaukee isn’t anything like this, all glitz and neon and frantic motion. Can’t find a quiet bar in a ten mile radius in this town. I miss Goolsby’s, most nights.

I think it’s the people, mostly. I mean the real people. The way they walk around, looking over their shoulders, checking their wallets, getting drunk not to be happy but to blot out the pain. Even the frat boys in the strip clubs look haggard underneath the hair gel and the E. Like they all know this is a city built on more than one kind of sand and that the Man in the Long Black coat is just marking time until it all falls in on itself like the greasy cards in the Flamingo. Like this town’s borrowing time as well as money, and the whole strip’s standing on a craps table. Who’s shooting?

Fuckin’ Galt, that’s who. “Who is John Galt?” I see that everywhere, scrawled on the walls, printed in the newspapers, even put up on the billboards for those of us with eyes that really see. Some of the Lost say he’s a big bad wolf, all hyped up on Ayn Rand (I hate that bitch, by the way. I’ll take Hillerman or Hammett any day). The Vamps say that he’s one of theirs, an old aristocrat cat waiting for his chance to take back his Vegas mousey. The people who know about it say he’s either a mob boss, a vigilante or nobody at all. Just a name on the walls. Like Kilroy. Well, maybe more like T.J., in the hedge. No one knows if he’s real either (except me, natch, but I’m not telling).

Can’t complain, I guess. I live a solid life here, as “ambassador” from the Court of Masks and Stages. Lear said it’s time to branch out, make ourselves known as the biggest, best, baddest freehold in the USA. I told him there wasn’t any Winter here (the season, I mean), but he wasn’t convinced. So I told him louder, and he wasn’t convinced even more so. So here I am. I shouldn’t complain, like I said. But that name and these people just don’t sit right with me, some way some how. I just can’t help it.

This town gives me the creeps.

—Vincent “Dirge” DelRay, Ambassador of the Freehold of Milwaukee

City Lights at Night

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