RODNEY opened one eye and glanced up at the sky when the first drop of rain hit his nose. He sighed. Well, after all this unrelenting heat, a little rain was probably a good thing. Still, it made for an unpleasant night, particularly if the storm blew over quickly and left nothing but a steamy, sauna-like atmosphere behind.

As was his usual habit, he scanned his surroundings as best he could without actually moving just yet. The last rays of light were fading from the sky, the cars below beginning to turn on their headlights. Across the street, the skyscrapers began to light up from within. He could make out the movement of people inside some of the windows, like ants behind a wall of glass. Not that he’d ever seen an ant farm, but he’d read about them.

It should be safe enough. People seldom came up to the rooftop these days, especially now in the summer’s furnace of heat. Cautiously, he turned his head. Yep. Empty. The rain began to fall in a steady patter, slicking his skin and darkening the tarpaper on the roof below him. A small gust of wind stirred up the remains of some dead leaves and sent them skittering against the balustrade.

He glanced down at the supporting stone structure at his feet. The cement beneath his toes clearly showed a wide crack. Was it his imagination, or was it bigger tonight than it had been the night before? He didn’t know. All he knew was unless someone patched his base, at some point soon he’d go tumbling down thirty floors to the street below. Never mind the pedestrians and traffic; it wouldn’t be so good for him either.

Carefully, he eased himself off the damaged pedestal and, gripping the balustrade, swung lightly over the low rail to land on the rooftop. Ah, well. There was nothing he could do about it. It wasn’t as if he could head into the nearest hardware store and buy the necessary supplies needed to fix his own perch. The idea amused him, however, and he pictured himself walking into a supply store, his claws ticking on the tiled floor as he made his way to the information desk and asked for assistance. In his mind’s eye, salesgirls screamed and fainted, dropping inelegantly to the floor, while customers turned, white-faced and horrified, to shrink against the walls. And he, Rodney, walked out of the store with a basket under one arm, everything he needed to repair his base and get on with the next hundred and fifty years or so of his life.

Unless, of course, his building was torn down. Then it wouldn’t matter if his support disintegrated right out from under him. It could happen; he knew that. Older buildings like his were knocked down every day to make way for newer, larger, shinier ones. Was that such a bad thing? He didn’t know. Maybe this was all there was. Maybe he’d lived all the life he could have reasonably expected to live and to want something more was merely crying for the moon.

He stared out across the Hudson River, feeling the cool rain moistening his skin, and he sighed again. It was too soon to stretch his wings. His tail flicked up over one arm and coiled itself around his bicep as he sought the protection of the shadows and waited for darkness to fully descend. It was going to be another long night.