Brass Knuckles and Silk Sheets
By Vic Winter
Swift turned up Main Street, loving the way the nighttime spring air felt against his face. There was something about moonlight and streetlights and a bunch of people who were strangers walking the streets not together and yet together. He didn't know anyone, but he was still one of the group.
That was what his parents didn't understand. He liked being anonymous; he liked being one of the crowd. It was why he lived downtown. It was why he walked everywhere instead of taking the car with its chauffeur. He didn't need a butler or a valet or even a personal assistant. Real people didn't have any of those, and he was a real person damn it. Even if his name was Swift.
His apartment was in a converted church, his front window the original stained glass, his bedroom in the back where the organ was. The organ. How cool was all that? Swift loved it. It was unique and awesome and all his and he had the heart of downtown at his front door.
He turned onto Second, taking a meandering route home so he could keep people watching, keep being just another guy on the street. So what if not every guy on the street had come from Teggliario's where they had the most scrumptious seafood pasta with cream sauce and an absolutely amazing tiramisu for dessert. He also liked the things his parents' money could buy him; he could admit that. As long as he kept going to university and showing up to Sunday dinner, well-dressed and ready to debate current events with his father and whatever guests had been invited this week, his folks were happy to continue to fund his 'idiosyncrasies'.
Draper Avenue was quieter, but when he turned onto it, he was treated to the illumination on the Depler Building. Swift loved those lights. They always felt like magic to him, like something bright and airy and out of place in the best of ways in the middle of the city. It took the ordinary business building and turned it into something magical. It was the heart of the city he loved so much.
He was looking at the lights and not where he was going when his forward momentum was stopped. He crashed hard into someone who felt more like a wall than a person, and he cursed softly. "Shit. Oh, damn, I'm sorry." He hadn't knocked the guy over, but he still felt really bad because he'd had the wind knocked out of him and so he figured so had the guy he'd barreled into. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going." It was totally his fault and he hated doing stupid things like that.
"No, you weren't." The words were more snarl than anything and, surprised at the amount of anger there, Swift took a step back. Or at least, he tried to. His way back was blocked, though, and a second later another man appeared at his side, the three of them surrounding him.
"I am s-sorry." Damn his stutter -- it always showed up when he was stressed.
"Yeah, you gonna be sorry." The man in front of him pushed him harder into the guy behind him and the one at his elbow pushed and suddenly they were all off the street itself and in an alley.