[PART ONE] Graffitied Faces
THE sound of rain falling on the concrete street matched my heartbeat as I sat down near the brick courthouse, unnerved. I felt the rain as it slid down my face as I grabbed the spray paint cans out of my backpack. I walked out of the street, going near the alleyway. I turned towards Old McCartney, an apartment complex abandoned years ago.
Graffiti had always interested me at an early age. It combines the emotions and powers of words with another layer of art and somewhat pushes the viewing audience to except the words as well as the context of the background artwork. My whole life, walking down the streets of my neighborhood, the colorful illustrations and ideas painted a different view of the world for me.
I moved slightly, just so that I was under the jutted bricks; maritime red and full of lively colors. The muffled voices of the court wandered to my ears as I walked behind the old alleyway; a forgotten part of the city near one of its busiest places. I had picked an abandoned apartment, next to the courthouse to display my art, and hidden enough so I wouldn't be found. The ideas coursed through my mind; the words, phrases of truth and innocence, words of hope and peace. Of undefined serenity.
I heard sirens in the distance, growing eerie with each second that passed by. I slowed down my breathing, and angled the can, so that the color slid down the old, worn down brick walls, ever so slightly. I turn my head to the side. Something, movement, caught my eye.
A police officer was approaching. His police car has been nudged towards the corner; camouflaged in some way. He wore the traditional police uniform. A MPD badge on his shirt. He wasn't walking towards me, was he? I looked to see any clues of why this could happen to me. I leaned forward to start putting away my supplies in an hurry, and then I realized my common mistake. It clicked: I forgot my tin water basket.
I grabbed everything I could get my hands on, and quickly shoved it down my backpack. Usually, there are no marks on my hands as I draw carefully. But this time, a long, dark bluish line ran down my own hand. I shoved the remainder of supplies, the various spray paint cans, into my side pockets.
He walked towards me, and the only thing I saw was an already written ticket- a freshly ripped out piece of lined paper.
"Man, why are you giving me a ticket?" I stood rigid, to match the police officers stance.
"You are destroying public property, sir. Trust me, a ticket is the least of your worries."
"I'm an artist, not a criminal!" I proceeded to turn, and put my remaining supplies away. When I turn back around, the police officer is holding my tin water basket in front of my face.
"I believe this is yours, yes?" I try to respond, to tell that it isn't, but he must see the look in my eyes as he settles it down. "You know," he whispers, spinning around in circles, "this is some sort of signature of yours, this old, rusted water bucket." He looks at me, stares right into my very soul.
"You tell everyone that stops you that you're an artist, that's what you tell us every single time Kennedy- when will you stop?" He sighs, putting his hands within his pocket. His car stands idle, waiting for its rider. "We keep stopping you all over the city, only to find your back hunched and art supplies at hand." I shrug.
"It's my way of expressing myself to the world.."
"And we are are tired of playing this game with you- its a game, right?" I stand taller, straighter.
"My art is not a game, sir, its a masterpiece. Its.. its.. a vision, its the fire within my veins and the air that I breath in-"
"And its vandalism. And I don't think you'll be able to quit this habit on your own."
"I'm nineteen, sir! And its not a habit, its my-"
"Yes, yes, your art. So instead of giving you the ticket.." He waves the ticket in the air, like a soldier holding a white flag. "You might as well have to serve community service hours." I bend down, acting exhausted.
"Community what-now?" The officer than steps forward, seeming as if he were analyzing me.
"You can see the community as its best- helping people in need." The trees covered the block I was in, so the sounds of feet walking on chipped pieces of bricks and concrete didn't seem to distract me.
"And how exactly am I going to consent to your terms?" I smirk, leaning against the brick wall. The officer then waves the ticket over my hand, clearly amused.
"I don't suppose you want to pay 400 dollars, correct?" I paused, acting as if I had to contemplate the issue. "I mean, that is the minimum. It could easily go up to three thousand." I quietly answered the man in uniform, as he slowly walked back his car, shaking his head.
[end of part one]