I feel tired. Well, it’s not that I feel tired, not that I want to go back to sleep or anything, not quite that fluishness or hangover-style not wanting to move around that much, not even feeling achy like I’ve overtaxed my muscles. I just don’t feel well-rested, and I wish there were more words in English.

Relevant ones, preferably.

Anyway, it’s times like this that I’m happy I can just shake off most of the symptoms, times when I have to be dealing with both Perry and Red. Times when I would like to be at my most alert but will, in a pinch, settle for my most awake, and just pray to all that is holy it will be enough.

I maybe need better taste in friends.

“What, you’re not going to arrest them?” Perry winks at me, picking salt off her pretzel.

I follow my gaze over to where she’s shaking her head, seeing nothing but a bunch of nerds in human-sized bird costumes talking to some kids who look maybe way less unnerved than they should be, but also like they’re super excited to learn. I roll the fuck out of my eyes. “I’m off duty.”

“What about you?” Perry asks Darren, who walks up to our table and sits down next to me, and also has no idea what she’s trying to intimate with subtle nods of the head.

Darren hands me my own pretzel, that I leave the salt on, because why would I ask for one with salt if I didn’t want salt, what would even be the point of that. “What about me what?”

“Are you going to arrest the wicked and disreputable bird-men?” she gasps, fluttering her eyelashes and making some sort of stylized swooning gesture.

Priscilla snorts.

“The Parliament?” Darren asks, glancing over and seeing literally the exact same thing I saw, because it’s been like three seconds, and thinking the exact same thing, too, I can tell, because he’s making the same expression, “why, what are they doing now?”

“Eggs, today, I think,” Priscilla says, taking a dainty nibble of her pretzel that she got made without salt if she fucking wanted it that way, “or, at least, they’re handing out little bits of eggshell along with all the stickers.”

Walker sets down his lemonade and tears his pretzel in half. “What stickers?” He got salt, too, but I don’t think he cares. If he didn’t want salt, he would probably just eat the salt anyway. Actually, if he did want salt and hadn’t gotten any, he probably wouldn’t notice until he’d already finished eating the entire pretzel, but he damn well wouldn’t peel it off.

“Bird stickers,” Priscilla says, at the same time Perry says, “say, you could arrest them.”

Walker glances over, at still the same not remotely dubious or illicit scene, raises an eyebrow, and says, “oh, hey, I’m just some shmuck from out of state. I don’t know about your weird bird-gangs.”

“For some reason, Perry really wants to take The Parliament down,” I tell him.

She throws a grain of salt at me. “You’re the one who said they were vigilantes.”

“I said they were classed as vigilantes,” I say, and then chew on my pretzel, because, I mean the classification system is like 75% bullshit anyway.

She laughs uproariously at that. I wonder if she’s been drinking, I really do.

“For the record, I’m against classing them as criminals,” Darren says, sliding his Sprite over to her, “but to be fair to everyone who does, those costumes are pure nightmare fuel.”

Priscilla purses her mouth skeptically. “That’s just Maggie the Magpie and Rocky the Rook; the kids love them all dearly and you ain’t hauling them off in chains while I live and breathe, mister.”

“I wasn’t hauling them off at all,” I mutter into my own drink, which seems to be just a whole bunch of different things mixed together, I can’t even tell what that is, and I’m no longer letting Perry decide what drinks will go with our food, I mean this might even be spiked, Darren and Walker agreeing.

Priscilla nods sharply. “Fucking A you weren’t.”

Perry glances behind her again. I don’t know what she sees, but I’m still chalking this one up to some kind of alcohol madness. “Do you think we could get them to do a show or something?”

“A show,” Darren repeats. “You want to expose even more children to whatever those costumes are meant to represent, honestly, I don’t know, I feel like we need a lot of big literary words here.”

“Dark Double comes to mind,” Walker says, “also, Death Drive.”

“I’m pretty sure those aren’t relevant,” I tell him.

“I didn’t say they were,” Walker agrees, with a shrug, fixing the birds centered between his hands, like he’s framing a picture, “I have no idea what’s up with those guys any more than Darren does, but I sure as fuck would cross the street, you know?”

“Well, really,” Priscilla says. “They are just bird mascots for an education initiative.”

“Edutainment,” Darren says, “the key word is edutainment.”

“Why is that the key word?” I ask, but Perry interrupts me with, “edutainment is always evil.”

“Staying out of this fight,” Walker says, shaking his head and stuffing the entire rest of his pretzel in his mouth at once, which is about half a pretzel, and is gross.

Priscilla and I share a Look. Not about Walker, I mean, about whether edutainment is evil. Or maybe about whether the Parliament is evil, actually, I’m not sure. Maybe it is about Walker. I’m not following any of these conversations anymore.

“At least they’re not the PLC, though,” Darren says, and I smack myself in the face.

“Why them?” Walker says, at the same time I’m either thinking or chanting the word no repeatedly, not that it helps any.

“Foxie ran into Klepto,” Perry happily informs him.

“You should get a dog,” Walker tells me, to Perry’s ecstatic display of his advice with her outstretched hand like a game show host. Who says she’s better behind the camera?

Also, how the fuck did Red not already hear about that, because it’s not like it wasn’t wildfiring through the building on Friday.

“Dog?” Darren says, and I actually can’t believe I’m about to have this conversation again.

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