What we were doing was toasting ourselves at the edge of the faultlines, toasting our sweet ironies and haute exclamations. But we didn't enter. We hovered at the periphery, again at the periphery, while the City smoldered slowly then burnt right through.
"I want to tell you—" Blackbird began.
Kiki interrupting bored, hostile: "This isn't going to be another Spider story, is it?"
Blackbird answering, all simmer and patience: "I want to tell you what I remember from the places I lived, the northern reaches of the City."
"Uphill of the Market, yes. Some nights I remember every rowhouse, every turn and every terrace. Because they were all the same, you see. Brown upon light brown. White. Red roofs. Or green? This is not one of those nights--"
--snorts of laughter from us.
"--this is more a night of remembering how we moved in the City, when the sun was up. And then how we moved in the moonlight. The further north, the more moon you could see. The houses were lighter and lighter, until nearest the wall of the City it was a great canyonmaze of bone heaps laid before the cobbles. Dotted with concrete scoria ejected into the earth from dead projects, forgotten pilings. Weren't these the newest constructions? I wondered. But it was the dirtiest, and worst kept.
"There we moved more boldly. Caution always marked the start of any of our walks, but we accelerated toward the wall, pulled to its shadows. It was me and the rest of the boys, and we liked to slink among the broken buildings, playing at secret struggles."
Kiki snickered. Thin smile. Sip. Deep breath.
Blackbird went on, "Robin was a climber and he reached the high tip of a pylon crested with rebar, thrust his chest, cried, 'We are kings!' I trembled always, watching him. And this time he fell. None of us breathed while he hung there for what felt like hours. In a moment we realized that he did hang there: his shirt had hooked one of the spikes of rebar, and he dangled by it, legs kicking!"
"Right! We gathered around the base, a perverse kind of maypole dance, hollering up at him while he struggled. We realized too that he was starting to choke, strangled by the collar. My boy Wren (such pretty eyes he had) searched crazily among the trash for some kind of stick, something to lift him off there. We tried to leap up and grab Robin's legs, they hung just above our hands, kicking. Wren found a length of aluminum, and we held it above our heads, tried to jab into the shirt. To lift Robin I suppose? We didn't exactly know, but we scraped his back and he cried out. We jabbed it into the shirt and finally the strain began to tear the fabric. It gave way and Robin fell directly on me. We collapsed to the dirt, sobbing."