Despite the heat he always wore the same clothes, day in, day out: A long raincoat, a homburg hat, and a pair of dusty torn trousers with ragged turn-ups - which seemed to emphasise those feet of his. The long, arching claws emerging out of his scaly skin like scimitars.
In the heat of mid-day he would clamber up the rickety drainpipe that ran up the side of the Town Hall entrance and climb to the place where the arch of the entranceway almost met the overhang of the roof. He would lie, or sit - I was never entirely sure how to tell which was which with him - up there in the shade as the sun burnt the dust on the ground, that was too hot for anyone to walk on, a hundred feet or so below him.
I lived across the street from the Town Hall at the time, in the ruined cinema. I could look out of the window and see his cold-blooded reptilian eyes, almost on a level with mine, staring down at the street below. Powerful sunlight and deep shadows can cause all sorts of tricks, especially when we look too hard. But I am sure I once saw blood on those huge white teeth of his. It was around the time we found the first bodies. Although, it could have been a trick of the light, or even a trick of the mind, though.
It could have been just wishful thinking, of course. He was the only lizardman in our town. He was one of those who’d had the money - and, yes, the courage - to get the operation done when we all discovered what was going to happen, and that it was far too late for anything to be done to save us.
I suppose we all need something to fear, to hate, especially now. The lizardmen make easy, and obvious, targets for that helpless rage we all feel.
About a month or so after the lizardman arrived in our town, Suze offered to let me watch the next time he came around to her place. She said he was no better, and certainly no worse, than most of her customers. She said he had never, even once, scratched her with his claws, no matter how ungain and dangerous they seem. With the shape of his face, she said, he did not attempt to kiss her. He has no lips, anyway. And, she said, his breath smelt no worse that the water-miners’ breath when they come back to town after months out in the Barrens.
I was tempted, very tempted, to take Suze up on her offer at the time. I wanted to see if he could show emotion, passion. I expected that he would need to show some degree of passion to kill, especially in the way those travellers were killed, with their hearts ripped out. I suppose I wanted to see him in... what...? I don't really know… a more animal state than the urbane way he strolled down the street in his dusty clothes, almost like some American private-eye in those black and white films from early last century. Not long after he, the lizardman, turned up in our town I found some catalogues and magazines down in the basement of the cinema from that time when the whole cinema nostalgia kick was in full swing, showing stills from some of those films. If he was not a lizardman, he could have been the star in any of them.
I found it difficult to reconcile visions of his reptilian skin lying next to Suze's familiar nakedness. I wondered if she ever joked and chatted with him as she did with me? A couple of times I even wondered if she offered to let him watch me with her? Or if he thought perhaps I was the killer and he climbed up to the Town Hall roof to watch me, to get some clues from my haunting of the empty cinema.
It doesn't matter how much time we have left. There is not much that to be said about that. It seems we just carry on living out of… out of habit – I suppose – rather for any purpose, or any reason. The buildings were ruined, and mostly deserted, when I first arrived in this town. The desert had already claimed them, blowing sand into the rooms, taking over all the buildings as it took over everything else that stood in its way. I was just a drifter at the time myself too, blown about the desert by the never-ending winds. I had lost all sense of the concept called home until the moment I saw the abandoned cinema. I came out of the desert and there it was, appearing out of the heat haze like some mirage. A relic of the past, like the bones of the unfortunate people and animals spread all over the Barrens, picked clean, then bleached by the relentless winds, scouring sands and the unforgiving sun.