14. A Hot Child

12

While I was drawing this, I was distracted by something from the corner of my eye, and turned to see an older woman standing there watching me.
The woman, who was wearing a grey fitness outfit that looked like it might be made of fleece, was carrying an aluminium baseball bat, and had a small grey dog at the end of a long red leash.
She also had on big black ‘Jackie O’ style sunglasses, and what looked like a fortune teller’s turban on her head.
The dog, which was long and white and had very short legs, stood completely still looking away from us while the woman spoke to me and absent-mindedly tapped the end of the baseball bat on the sidewalk.
‘Is it empty that house then?’ the woman said to me as I put my *music on pause.
I told the woman that I had no idea about the house, as I was just here to draw.
The woman said nothing in response, so I elaborated.
‘No one asked me to draw it, that’s what I mean,’ I said, ‘I’m just doing it because I want to.’
The woman, who had a Caribbean or similar accent, I couldn’t tell, stared at the house for a few moments, and then looked down at my drawing again.
‘Nice,’ she said.
I said thank you, and she nodded, said nothing more, and walked away.
Then a few moments later I was distracted again, this time by a woman with a stroller containing a small child.
The woman, who seemed, even when standing still, to be in a great hurry, had long dark hair, was wearing a running outfit, and smiling, showing off some great teeth.
I said hello to the woman, and she said hello back, but when I said hello to the child its expression didn’t change, so I didn’t make any more effort with it.
‘Wow,’ said the woman who was shielding her eyes from the sun with the back of her hand, and looking back and forth from my drawing to the house as I watched up at her from the gutter in which I sat, ‘just wow.’
I said thank you to the woman, who continued to smile.
Then on the woman’s back I noticed there was another child, a baby, this one strapped on by a cloth.
The woman was slightly hunched forward, and the baby’s face was pressed flush against her back, and its eyes were open, so I stood up to get a closer look.
‘Hello baby,’ I said, bending my head down a little bit and smiling and stroking the back of its tiny white left hand that lay just below the mother’s shoulder blade.
But the helpless infant’s expression didn’t change: the poor bound thing just stared back at me, intermittently blinking and squinting into a baking So-Cal sun.

Today’s music: Midnight Oil- Blue Sky Mining … and I found this about it.
Try this video from the ABC. Blue Death.

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 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 asked me what I was doing sitting on the curb outside her house.
‘I 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 house drawing.
‘Why this one?’ she asked, looking at the house I was drawing, ‘It’s empty and it’s going to be torn down soon.’
Well, it had good light. I look for houses that have good light and no cars parked in front of them.’
I then 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.
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.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.
I smiled.

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

1. Tony

1While I was drawing this a woman driving a small teal SUV stopped in the middle of the road in front of me.
She had short ginger/blonde hair and a frown, and was waving her hand.
I paused the podcast* I was listening to and called out hi to her.
‘Have you seen a dog?’ she called out to me.
‘What kind? ‘I called back.
‘Small! White!’ she said, her tone high-pitched with dog-loss anxiety.
‘Nope, I haven’t seen a dog,’ I called back to her, ‘and I’m sure if there’d been a dog running around I’d have seen it.’
‘Yes,’ she called out, ‘so if you see him, his name’s on the collar, and the phone number.’
‘Okay,’ I called calmly, ‘I’ll look out for him.’
‘His name’s Tony!’ she called as she started to drive off.
After she’d gone I sat there for a few moments looking up and down the street, hoping to see Tony come trotting down a driveway, or out from behind a bush or from under a parked car.

—————
*Today’s Podcast: Slow Burn- A podcast about Watergate