Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It really wasn't Art's bulk that made him an imposing figure as he walked his deserted street this afternoon, leaves swirling all around him in the breeze. He clearly wasn't a fighter but he was big enough to be more trouble to a mugger than his timeworn, slightly fraying clothes indicated he was worth.

Nevertheless, not even a man as big as Art Chupke could count on that ratio of size to poverty as a protection, nowadays. He felt like a target on his own street.

What had been a decent residential neighborhood in the old days, wasn't one any longer.

No, what was intimidating was the cordless hedge trimmer he wielded with a sinister buzz. Although carrying such an expensive gadget out in the open on the street was a bit of what made him feel like a target, that anxiety was balanced by the fact that a robber would have to brave its wicked flashing teeth before taking it from Art. Unless that robber had a gun. But anyway, strangers tended not to ask him for change when he was carrying a hedge trimmer. There was something oh-so satisfying about slicing down the annoying branches of the overgrown trees, right out on the public sidewalk... thrust and parry, septime block, whip-over, beat, quick riposte, like a knight cutting through cartoon bad guys. He'd twisted his poor neck more than once, while carrying a heavy satchel back and forth from his house to the City Planner's office. Today was his revenge.

He'd waited long enough for the City to do it. He was, after all, barely a mile from City Hall. But for all he knew, the Los Angeles Department of Street Services, which normally trimmed the sidewalk trees, might have had their budget cut completely down to zero. Art was, in a sense, a City representative. His bosses might even have been proud of his initiative. Not that they would have paid him a cent for doing the City's job on his own time, though.

The voice was one of those voices that could carry half a block over the noise of a hedge trimmer and still manage to sound grating and irritating.

Art figured out why she was being so insistent, just as she explained it herself. It was the For Sale sign.


Next chapter

Bonus Art:

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