Author: Hillary Lyon

“It happened right here,” I breathlessly exclaim to my friend. She grins and looks towards the old office building. I point to a corner window on the topmost floor. The gaggle of tourists behind us gasp and raise their cameras to take snaps of the old five-story red brick building. My friend glances at me and smirks.

“Three shots,” I continue. I make a gun out of my upraised hand, like a kid playing cops and robbers. “Pow! Pow! Pow!”

My friend opens her eyes wide and puts her hands over her ears in mock horror. “Oh no!”

“Oh yes,” I say flatly. “The assassin was a crack shot.” I then stage-whisper, “Trained by our own special forces!” Behind us, the tourists mutter unintelligibly among themselves.

“On orders from his second in command.” I shake my head sadly. My friend puts her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. “His very own right-hand man.”

The tourists’ mumbling rises in volume, becoming a discordant symphony of clicks and whines and staccato squeaks. I catch overtones of dismay, shock, and—disbelief? How dare these outsiders, these tourists, question my tale. I was born here, after all; I should know. That’s what I’ll say if one of them contradicts me.

My friend can no longer smother her laughter, but being the fine actress she is, converts her convulsions to weeping. She really should win an award for these performances.

I turn to face the group clustered behind us. Embarrassed to be caught stalking and eavesdropping, they rub their stick-like forelegs together and pivot their multi-faceted eyes away from the building. Their mouths quiver and sticky drool sparkles in the corners, threatening to drip down their darkly iridescent carapaces.

I look down my nose at them. “It’s all true. My father was a local police detective. My mother was a nurse at the hospital where they took his broken body.”

A tourist waddles over to me, places a spiked claw on my shoulder. I suppose it is an act of sympathy. In response, I wipe a non-existent tear away from my eye. I wasn’t upset; I was acting. Tourists can’t tell the difference.

My companion sighs and we continue our walk. The tourists scuttle along behind us, at a respectful distance, but close enough to listen to our conversation.

“And over there,” my friend prompts, waving towards the depression-era hotel across the street. “Isn’t that where . . .?”

“Ah, yes,” I finish for her. “That’s where notorious astronaut-turned-gangster, Boz McNally, was arrested for robbing a string of pizza joints. A bell-hop tipped off the cops. The police caught him climbing out a third story window, after he set the hotel ablaze. McNally gambled the fire would be a distraction—he lost that bet.”

“He was one bad hombre, that dare-devil spaceman,” my companion adds. “A rotten apple. A real no-goodnik.” The tourists chitter excitedly; they love our idioms.

They lose themselves in an orgy of picture-taking and outraged conversation. My friend and I take this opportunity to slip away into the first convenient, shadowed alley. They won’t follow us into such a dark, narrow space; they are famously claustrophobic.

Honestly, I can’t stand these tourists—they crawl over every historical site in our city, they over-run our parks, they crowd us out of our museums and cinemas. So hungry for stories, as they evidently have none of their own. Victors in the last war—supposedly brilliant strategists—yet they are so gullible.

But, hey, at least they spend their credits here.