I want it blue, screams the night sergeant, his orange beard jutting merrily as he brandishes the obsidian whip in one hand and the viridian-tipped brand in the other. I tense as the burning brand edges ever closer and finally plunges like a thirsty bird into the pale brown of my skin. Old Sarge smiles. I scream appropriately what time the moisture of my skin hisses blue in the atmosphere of the late night cabana.
What happens late at night stays late at night. Later, pacing the purple downtown streets and avoiding airsharks as we go, I peek at the new brand where it has grown cheekily violet and chocolate against my skin. Old Sarge takes me to Mr Egg and we sit and munch omelettes, yellow-golden-orange like the coming dawn. Traffic on the Bristol Road roars sullenly in the dark like a vast mole turning in its chiseled hole, small and blunt like a stripped bone exposed to the elements forever.
By the dull canal, where the post office red frontage of the Mailbox is chocolate brown this time of the wee small morning, we play ducks and drakes and watch the stones skip. The brand is throbbing. A duck quacks away protesting in a flurry of splashing teal wings. Over to the east, to the Bristol Road and imagined Hurst Street and Chinatown, the dawn is lightening the sky to a pale turquoise.