Who: Jake R and Flash T
What: Late night guerrilla graffiti
Warnings: None, unless Flash comes with language.
Late night there wasn't nobody or nothing bothering anyone in the streets. The kitchen had emptied out late, past three by the time the stove-tops had been scrubbed cleaner than they had been all damn week, ready for the weekend rush. The door swung open onto the street with a gush of steamy, soapy-warm air that smelled like old food and detergent and Jake flung the last refuse sack of empty bottles right on into the trash before he shouldered his bag. Late night like this one, and he took the long route back to the tuxedo house, way off across the park. Wasn't a hell of a lot of point in going to sleep real quick off, mostly because he'd have to do the whole thing again tomorrow, and he flexed his hands experimentally, testing all those wrinkles from the suds.
Thing was, the money from the kitchen and from the bar on Saturdays, it paid enough for groceries and for the bills to keep the lights on. It didn't go so far as the real fancy art stuff in the store downtown, the one where the oil paints came in white tubes and you had to go in and take them out of the little drawers to see what color was kept inside them. Jake itched for something other than pencil on cheap paper: it had been a real long time. Longer than a year, if he figured it right, because he didn't have nothing but ballpoint on notebook paper after he'd lit out to go looking for Vegas ghosts, stead of school.
But the walk past the trash sacks and toward the park took him past the real ugly, concrete buildings, the sides of the bridges and the kind of places people peed in corners and the cops didn't stop long. Maybe in daylight, it was real ugly, and maybe when the light was low and the people living round there were around in the street, just talking and stuff, it looked like someplace you avoided if you were skinnier than you had been when you played football, and you didn't have much to start with.
But at night? Street-light played over neon, and the arches and swoops of art that was right on show, no ticket for admission. And the money from the kitchen didn't stretch to oil paint, but it did go so far as aeresol. And he'd always figured you could do something with the brilliance of color and ease of shape and something with the real old, fine art that was in books he looked at in libraries, and mash em some together.
The bag dropped from his shoulder to his feet, worn Chucks on sidewalk, and the streetlamp sputtered and carried on, blinking over worn cotton shirt, damp some at the wrists. Jake arched one long streak of color, stood back, grinned strong and sudden in the oily orange light, and added another, real content.