I have grown accustomed to these short walks—really short ones, just up and down the street. Some people take nightly walks just to stay healthy. They spend hours after hours wandering alone in some bleak suburbs, thinking that they are doing something in favor of their longevity. To me that's total bullshit. What's the point of living for so long if your life is as boring as heck? I take my walks because I enjoy them—nothing more, nothing less.

I came to New York about five years ago. Some say it's a city that never sleeps, and I can't agree with them more. New York is literally full of life, and evening is usually its best time of the day, when everybody has finished work, and is wandering lightheartedly through the neon-lit streets. It's a great pleasure for me to join them, and to take in the beauty of this magnificent city by walking among its people.

It was 8 o'clock that night when I left home. I walked quickly through the dark alleyways into the well-lit main street, my eyes narrowing against the blinding flashes of neon signs.

"Mommy!" a boy called out, "Look! There's a strange old man over there!"

"Johnny! What have I told you about being polite?" His mom—a young blonde in her early twenties—looked embarrassed. Turning towards me, she said, "I'm sorry, sir." 

"It's okay." I smiled warmly and waved the matter away. These children are always so energetic! Sometimes they remind me of my own childhood—which was, unfortunately, spent in a very unpleasant place.

I wandered through the busy streets, listening to the voices around me as I went.

"You know what? Jenny and I went to bed yesterday," a young man was saying. His friends all laughed and patted his shoulder enthusiastically. Well, young people are always open-minded and cheerful, which is good.

"What's wrong with people nowadays, Tom? Haven't you read the news today? Someone killed a poor old drunkard in Brooklyn. They say that the scene was pretty nasty," a middle-aged man said to his partner. Then they walked off complaining loudly about the deteriorating public safety conditions in the city and lots of other gloomy stuff.

Several teenagers were talking excitedly about a baseball game scheduled for tonight. Sadly, I was not a sports fan and could hardly understand what they were saying.

I passed a series of restaurants and coffee houses with brightly colored billboards advertising all sorts of food and drinks. Through the large glass windows of a cafeteria, I could see dozens of people talking and eating at their tables, all of them smiling warmly. I considered briefly whether I should join them, but then decided against it. As nice as it must be to have a conversation over dinner with these kind strangers, I was not hungry at the moment.

After a while, I decided to have a rest. Sitting down comfortably on one of the benches lining the sidewalk, I gazed up at the skyscrapers which stood like giant beacons of light against the night sky, marveling at their beauty and magnificence. I soon got so absorbed by the grandeur of the scenery that I somehow failed to notice the drunk young man shuffling along the sidewalk towards me.

The poor fellow stumbled over my outstretched legs and fell face first to the ground.

"I'm sorry," I said, totally embarrassed.

He stood up on shaky legs, and turned to face me with clenched teeth, his breath stinking of sweat and alcohol. "You bastard!" he screamed and threw a heavy left hook which caught me right under the chin.

The lower half of my face slid off like a mask, and fell with a wet slapping noise onto the sidewalk. The man stared at me incredulously for a few seconds before running away, screaming like a madman. I ran off in the opposite direction, holding up the collar of my overcoat to shield my bloody chin and praying that nobody would notice me.

Upon returning to my home in the sewers, I stripped myself of the stolen skin with my claws. It was taken from an old drunkard in his early seventies—that must be why it was so fragile. I felt really upset, for now I would have to find a new skin before I could take any more walks.

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