I was slumped over sitting on one of the benches overlooking the Tidal Basin. Work recently had taken quite a toll on me, being as I had finally been forced into appearing in person in my office. For too much time during the pandemic, I silently was grateful for being able to sleep until just before my scheduled work hours, and commute into the spare bedroom where my desktop was stationed. Having to physically go down to an office in dress attire took far too much out of me, considering how reasonable that request really was.
Anyway, I was lost in thought as I sat on the bench, letting the occasional tourist pass by me as they surveyed the murk of the true Washington swamp. As I allowed myself to be distracted, I suddenly was aware of the approach of my old friend, Slimey. Now Slimey is one of the most unforgettable creatures you will ever see. Eight foot plus, a reptile with razor sharp claws but who managed to walk on his rear legs, he kind of grabbed your attention and never let it go. Since I was so familiar with him, my eyes were drawn towards his new belt, with dual AR-15’s stuck in his holsters. I can’t imagine who the leather worker was who created this for Slimey, nor could I imagine what the source of the leather was, knowing Slimey’s propensity for taking out anything within reach of his claws. But I had to know why he felt it necessary to open carry such weaponry.
“Slimey, it’s been too long since I’ve seen you,” I greeted him as he approached.
“My friend, it has been a long time. Good to see you.” Slimey sidled up alongside me, then suddenly turned and tilted one of his long guns, pointing it at seemingly no one. Fortunately, he didn’t fire, but his sudden move alarmed me.
I thought long about how to broach this subject, since I did not want to become the object he decided was a threat. “Slimey, why is it you find it necessary to carry such a wondrous arsenal?” I finally said. I figured a bit of flattery might disarm my friend, so to speak.
“My friend, you just cannot count on anyone in this town. So many people want to stab you in the back, I finally found it necessary to go armed.” Slimey reached down to caress his left rifle, while giving his right rifle an affirming pat. “Now I feel naked if I go out without my trusty friends.” And he swung around, scaring a tourist couple who were strolling along the basin. He withdrew his clawed hands, and the rifles swung back to their neutral position.
“You’ll have to excuse my friend” I said to the still shell-shocked couple. “He’s still getting used to open carry.” They turned around and walked rapidly away.
“Slimey, I would never have thought you would need to carry heat. You’ve always seemed like someone capable of defending yourself.” I was really wondering what caused my reptilian friend to change so suddenly.
He reverted to the low growl I had heard before. I engaged my own senses, knowing his lightning fast reflexes could overwhelm me before I even knew what hit me. And now he had two weapons to extend his reach! Things were definitely not looking good for me.
The moment seemed to pass for Slimey, and he actually lowered his girth onto the other end of the bench. I was glad for the sturdy construction, and I relaxed just a bit.
Slimey inclined his head towards me. “You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve already had to use these things.” Here he patted his side arms. “Of course, so far I haven’t had to hit anything, people tend to take off as soon as I fire off a clip.” He gave off a low rumble I recognized as his laughter. “I’ve even seen their rear ends turn brown as they try to get away.”
Only Slimey could laugh about human defecation. Probably since his kind did that always in the water, where it was not normally visible. But I let his joke pass.
Slimey still seemed agitated. I had to ask. “Has someone threatened you? Why did you suddenly decide you needed protection?”
Slimey stood up, and I understood our interaction was near its end. “It’s just everywhere in this town. It’s gotten so much worse since the last President left. I knew he had a soft spot in his heart for me. But now, I’m not so sure.”
I knew I was not going to get much more out of him. I’d had enough interactions with Slimey to know he was a reptile of few words. And armed as he was, I didn’t want to see any more of his actions. As he prepared to leave, I said, “Don’t be a stranger. You know where I live.” It was only after I said that, I realized it might not have been the wisest thing to say to an 8’ reptile armed with dual AR-15’s. But it was already too late, and Slimey was already striding down the path, heading towards the Memorial, ready to take on the next interloper on his path.