I am walking in a city at night, maybe it’s Indianapolis, maybe it’s Peoria or Des Moines. The orange glow of sodium street lights give everything a strange, sickly pallor. But it’s is a sickly pallor that we’re all accustomed to, so no one pays it any mind anymore. The people around me walk in and out of bars and restaurants, they get in and out of Uber vehicles, they text, they talk, they laugh, they move on. The jaundiced tinge to the world doesn’t disturb them.
I am carrying an oversized drawing pad and a pouch of pencils. Its large white sheets of heavy paper now appear a dull orange under the street lights. Without regard for the other pedestrians around me, I sit down on the sidewalk, cross-legged, with the sketch pad in my lap. I flip open the cover and find a fresh page to begin drawing.
I am interested in the buildings, the skyline, and various architectural details. The people around me disappear as my hand moves across the page. I see only the graphite lines I am creating nothing else until
A slurred, mush-mouthed voice says, “Heaaay there, buddy. Do you need shome money?”
I look up from the drawing pad. An inebriated man is standing there in front of me, fumbling with a bottle of beer in one hand and his open wallet in the other. His female companion stands next to him with her hands jammed resolutely into the pockets of her coat. “Don’t give him cash, Larry,” she warns him. “He’ll probably just use it to buy books…”