Even though crime was way down in the inner city and muggings rare even in the twistiest of subway tunnels, Weirdo Watching still had its dangers. The weirdos in question could be armed, or mentally ill, or both; they could be pedophiles or convicted rapists or former city politicians. That element of danger, however remote, was behind Weirdo Watching’s recent popularity as an extreme sport amongst the spoiled and indolent, the bored and the teenaged.

“Where’s he headed?” Shaney asked, observing the transient that had drawn his attention by waving what appeared to be a stick of ladies’ roll-on deodorant like a symphony baton. He and Ash had followed their quarry down into the subway, surreptitiously snapping the most outrageous shots they could get on their phones for uploading to weirdowatching.ny.com.

“The dead end, he’s headed for the dead end,” Ash said. It wasn’t so much a dead end as a three-way junction where one of the branches had been closed off by a steel gate as long as Ash and Shaney had been alive.

“Keep your distance, then. We don’t want to back him into a place where he could get scared and stabby.”

Following at a car’s length, cell phones still merrily snapping, they saw the weirdo stop at a smooth tile wall just before the dead end. He paused a moment then rapidly smeared the deodorant baton over the wall in a frenzy. It rolled on clear, leaving no residue. Shaney could have sworn the man was casting a glance every so often at his pursuers, but before the idea could fully form the weirdo dashed off at high speed, vaulting over a turnstile before his pursuers could even snap another shot.

“Well, we’ve lost him. But I think we have enough shots of him deodorizing a random subway wall to make a good post. You want to go back up and try again?”

No reply. “Ash?”

Shaney returned to the dead end wall; Ash stood there, staring at the blank surface, agape. “Hey, you all right?”

To Shaney’s eyes it was a blank wall, but to Ash’s there was a message scrawled there, in bright neon green.