It was too hot. That was the one thing that was clear. Too hot to be out here. Too hot to be wearing three layers of clothing: the undershirt, the sweater and the regulation light blue button up shirt. Too hot to be standing and trying in any way that he could think of to look like he was actually busy, like he was concentrating on something, like there were urgent things for him to do, and not look like he was just standing, out here in the sidewalk, away from the cool tranquility of the museum’s halls, and just standing here alone, bored, tired, with nothing to do but look at the people walking by him, maybe wondering who had decided to put this poor guy out here, what was he there for really?
He stretched lightly and looked around, up at the slight rustle of the branches, at the tall thick trees that lined the sidewalk across from where he stood. He tried to remind himself that there was a reason that they wanted someone out here, as invisible as it might be, he was indeed serving a purpose. It was a strange dangerous world and right when you least expected it, something terrible could happen, and maybe then, they would say: “Thank god he was there to stop it! Imagine if he had been inside?” and then he would smile full of pride and they would look at him with great admiration, because he had saved them all, and that had been his role all along, if they had only paid attention, if they had only known, if they had only followed the chain of logic all the way to its conclusion.
He was in fact ready to be a hero. If the opportunity didn’t come along, well, that wasn’t really his fault. If he was truly ready, then he was a hero already, and as he thought of that, he puffed his chest out and ran his hand over his shaved head and breathed a little easier.
Just then, three girls in bicycles were about to cross the street, just a few feet away from him. He looked over at them. One had long curly brown hair and another had short blonde hair and a third was a little full figured but still pretty cute and he smiled at them and nodded but they looked right through him, as if he was a pillar on a building, just another fixture of the landscape. He looked right at them, letting them know that he was an avatar for authority, for the one authority that ruled over this little land of trees, and buildings, and displays, and air conditioning, and he was not smiling anymore, but still they didn’t look at him, even when they rolled by, so very close to him and even when they stopped their bikes only a few feet away.
They were discussing where to go next, and how much longer to keep on riding, and he could hear it all from where he was standing, and he was right there, so close, and he wondered if maybe they were looking at him off the corner of their eyes, maybe they were having wild thoughts about this handsome man in uniform that was standing right there, so close to them, so available, maybe their thoughts were not unlike the thoughts he had, but they wouldn’t dare to look straight at him, because he was so strong, because he was so powerful. If that was the case, then that was ok, he could understand that, he could see that he could be pretty intimidating, what with his blue uniform, and his radio, which crackled every once in a while, and his shaved head, and his strong muscular body. It was not in vain that he went to they gym four times per week, and he knew that any girl that was truly a girl would notice, even through the three layers of clothing that were making him sweat too much.
Just then he worried that maybe they had noticed the sweat on his forehead, even though they seemed to be looking up the street and talking amongst themselves. He didn’t want to disgust them, not at all. He reached up and wiped some of the sweat with his long sleeve and he was surprised to realize how much he was truly sweating. It was coming down his forehead in big long drops, and, if the girls were looking at all, they would have surely noticed. Maybe that was why they were now going away. He could see their asses pressed against the bicycle seats as they rolled up the sidewalk away from him, and he wondered if it was the sweat that finally had made them go away, if it was the sweat that had disenchanted them with the handsome guard that stood before them, keeping them safe.
If it had been the sweat, at least he could rest easy in the thought that it wasn’t his fault. He did not choose the uniform, he did not choose to stand out here, he did not choose the shift or the hours. He was just a man ready to be a hero and he would go wherever they told him to go. He couldn’t expect these girls to understand that. And it was just too hot, too hot to be out here.