You try to make it through the steel door before the cops have a chance to react.

"STOP!"

You stop, hands slowly up, just like in that very first flickering movie western you saw in London. There was a piano tinkling away in some corner, you recall.

"Just stay where you are, sir. We'd only like t'talk t'ya. It doesn't haveta get serious here."

Authorative command, followed by almost friendly reasoning, and then the threat officially sanctioned by the crown. Just like policemen everywhere!, you almost sneer aloud. And the sky overhead is aglow!

Policemen really are more nuisance than dangerous to you -- even the wary ones, believing they Gotcha because you wait as good as arrested in their sight, and their hands twitching on holsters.

However, you know from experience the folly of the powerful, who strike for the glory of feeling unstoppable. When you kill a man, policemen come, and then they go. When you kill a policeman, the policemen never go away. That is why you have disliked them so since Budapest.

You have the strength of ten men, the agility of a supernatural being that these can never imagine. They do not see you lunge for them -- knock both down gentler than they deserve. And the coughing prostrate pair of Keystone coppers below in the alley -- and the trash -- do not see you scale the building to the roof as if you have wings!

But the sun is so close now! -- the dawn air pre-warming. Of all shelter -- but a pigeon coop on the corner of the roof! And it will do -- for it will have to.

Surprisingly, your temporary accommodations please you, under the circumstances. The cooing residents seem not to mind sharing their dark apartments. Squatting on your heels in dung and feathers, listening to the music of pigeons, you sigh like a safe man, as the slots across the top of the coop begin to burn with the day.

You have your precious watch.

Fingering the roundness of the case, you trigger the catch. The lid opens. There is the fading picture of her. You remember Budapest in springtime, linden greening along the avenues, and the house, her father's house. Before the first mad war.

But you are not that man that loved her -- You, who hide from the sun!

The admission is like daybreak in your mind. Were this woman alive -- and close enough to feel your breath on her face -- she would be meat. You fist your hand around the ticking memory, because otherwise you might smash it on the dung-smeared floor.

Snatching one cooing pigeon from its ledge, you stop yourself immediately making a snack of its life: holding its neck between thumb and fore-finger with pressure only sufficient enough to keep it still.

Free to come and go as you please.

The End

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