10. Benji

While I was drawing this, what turned out to be a very cheery woman came walking along the road with a medium-sized curly-haired white dog on a leash, and stopped and struck up a conversation.
The woman told me she lived in the house right behind me, and I asked her if she was the woman I had seen cleaning the front door earlier on.
‘No,’ she told me, smiling, ‘I’ve had someone come in for about 20 years, and if you saw us together you wouldn’t think we looked at all alike.’
Then the woman, who was dressed all in dark blue, dark sunglasses and had light brown shoulder length hair, laughed
‘You have similar hair styles,’ I said.
Then the woman wanted to know what I was doing sitting in the street outside her house.
‘I just go around drawing houses,’ I told her.
‘It’s not often you have an artist sitting outside your house drawing.’ she said and laughed.
‘I suppose not.’ I said, and we both laughed.
I told her I also write stories about the conversations I have with people I talk to while drawing and that because she had come along she would be today’s story.
‘Oh!’ she said and laughed.
Then we got back to the conversation about the house.
‘Why this one?’ she asked, looking at the house I was drawing, ‘It’s empty and it’s going to be torn down soon.’
‘Oh, I thought it looked empty. ‘ I said, ‘Well, it had good light, I look for houses that have good light and no cars parked in front of them.’
Then I asked her if the house is torn down will she get a McMansion and she said she didn’t know.
‘I think they’ve been banned,’ I said, ‘I remember hearing a radio program about them being outlawed.’
The woman again said she didn’t know.
‘And what will you do with the drawing?’ she asked me.
I told her about the hundred drawings I would do, and that I would have an exhibition when I had the hundred.
‘And what will happen at this exposition?’ she asked.
‘What do you mean?’ I said.
‘To the drawings,’ she said, ‘what will happen to them when you have this exposition?’
‘People will just hang about and look at them and maybe I’ll sell some.’ I told her.
‘Oh,’ she said, ‘Does that happen?’
‘Well, it is Los Angeles,’ I said, ‘anything can happen.’
She laughed at this, and then her curly dog, which had been intermittently standing close to the woman or walking in doggish circles near her, came over to me and stood right next to my leg, and I asked his name.
‘Benji,’ the woman said.
‘Oh, like the film.’ I said, and the woman told me she’d named him after the film dog.
‘We found him in the street 5 years ago,’ she told me, ‘he hates the postman, he still barks at him after all this time. But he likes you it seems.’
I rubbed Benji’s curly furry head and talked to him, telling him how lovely he was, and how sweet, and how I wanted to take him home with me, until the woman said she was going inside.
‘I’ll leave you the name of my blog before I go.’ I said to the woman as she walked away.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘thanks.’
‘Bye Benji.’ I said, as I put my earbuds* back in and went back to my podcast.
Later on, after putting my drawing equipment back in my car, I found a piece of brown paper and wrote ‘ahundredhouses.wordpress.com’ and left it hanging out of the cheery woman’s letterbox.
And as I crossed the lawn on the way back to my car a USPS postal truck drove past and I heard Benji start up his barking, and I started smiling.

*Today’s podcast-Weekly Economics Podcast; Middletown America

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