Stress glowed hot on his forehead, veins bulging, sweat slick speed-bumps on the ruddy terrain of his face. His eyes glistened with barely restrained emotion. Food littered his beard like plastic cola bottles on the highway, unsightly, embarrassing, filthy. His yellowed teeth bared, his hair wild, his clothing in disarray. He screamed prophesy and admonishments at an unwilling public on the flower-lined promenade in the park filled on a hot, clear summer day. But today was no ordinary day for Argo Thistleblack, Lord High Chancellor of The Twelve Moons of Rhygosia IX, Mandate of Heaven’s Armies, Crowned Ruler of the Nineteen Layers of Civilization, for today was the day, he knew, that the world as we knew it would end.
“My brothers, my sisters! My loyal subjects! You must know what I know for the world is coming to an end! The tides of time space have been interrupted by the power pyramid and a great eye has opened up to swallow our reality! Be careful, for everything we know will soon cease to be!” he yelled, hoping to get through the New Yorkers’ natural standoffishness. He did not blame them for it was often a difficult city to live in, as he could attest. He had given up the splendor of his crystalline palace in the Oort clouds off the arm of the Big Dipper to live under the boardwalk at the place these humans called Coney Island. He had picked it because of all the places to sleep, he felt most at home there with its myriad folk whose variety and peculiarity reminded him most of the great ports of call on his native planet. That and he was often sheltered from the wind by the wooden boardwalk.
A small group of onlookers gathered around Argo, patiently enjoying what they took to be a bit of street theatre sponsored by Bellevue Hospital. “A sphinx has come to me in a dream and led me down the path of enlightenment! He told me that soon a handmaid’s bath would wash over us all!”
“Maybe you need to take a bath, buddy!” yelled a thickset man in a Knicks jersey.
“Yeah, you stink!” yelled his cohort, a man of equal girth in a similar shirt.
“Do not listen to these men,” Argo said to his growing crowd, “they seek only to lead you astray! Know that I, Argo Thistleblack, your Chancellor to the Great Assembly of Rhygosia IX, come bearing tidings of the worst kind!”
“You got fucking hot dog in your beard, old man!” yelled a voice from the crowd.
“I got your fucking Rolaidsia right here!” yelled another.
The crowd burst into laughter.
“You would deny my gift of foresight!? I bring you echos of the future, and you spit at me? Call me names?”
“You can’t have echos of things that haven’t happened yet!” a particularly lucid voice called.
“Well, surely, not in your primitive 4 dimensional understanding of the….” Argo said, but was cut off by a pair of burly young policemen wading through the crowd.
“Ok, folks,” the smarter of the two cops said, “get outta here. Nothing to see.”
“Be forewarned! The world will soon split in two as the great rhino emerges from its den!”
“Hey, gramps,” the cop said to Argo, “why don’t you get down from there and stop bothering these people, huh?”
“But officer, I just seek to warn them about the impending….”
“Sure you do, buddy. Now, why don’t you take a hike, huh?”