# 50 – Mick

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“Are you one of those…” he waved a nicotine-stained finger in circles.  It was as if he was trying to get his memory running.  They were sitting in a gazebo in Adams Square.  Liza wasn’t ready to go home, so she had decided to sit down and see if she could draw something.  A homeless guy who looked like Mick from the Rocky movies sat next to her a few minutes later.  “Um…”

“Artists?”

“No.”  Mick squinted.

“Illustrators?”

“No.”

Liza sighed.  Maybe she should have gotten up when he sat down.  Was she that hard up for company?  No, she could have hung out with Brad longer.  Mick had seemed interesting, and truthfully, he was a welcome diversion from the sketch that she was struggling with.  “Painter?  Sketch artist?  Cartoonist?  Designer?”

“No.  One of those people who draws the funny pictures of people.”

“A caricaturist?”

“Yes!”  He smiled wide, flashing one lonely tooth at her.  It wasn’t a bed tooth, straight and only slightly yellowed.  She wondered if he was nice looking when he was younger and (presumably) not homeless.  He was nearly toothless and his skin was like worn leather, but he had these lively blue eyes.

“Nope, none of the above,” said Liza.

“So what’s this then?”  He waved the stained finger at her sketch pad as he pulled out a pack of little cigars.

“A hobby.”  She shook her head when he held the pack out to her.  “No, thank you.”  Liza fished a cigarette from her pack and lit up.  “I have some.”

“That your boyfriend?” he asked.

Liza stared at the picture.  It was supposed to be Casey as an angel.  Liza was no da Vinci, but damn, was it that bad?  “It’s my niece.”  He nudged her with his elbow and pointed with the little cigar.  Brad was standing near an entrance about twenty yards away.  He was looking at her.  Darn.  She felt like a mean girl.  Liza thought about going over and telling him the truth, but the way he was looking at her gave her a sick feeling.  Mick looked like he was thinking the same thing.  “That’s not my boyfriend,” said Liza.

“But you know him?”

“Yeah.  Kind of.”  Liza watched Brad, trying to decide what to do.  She wished that she had remembered to put the knife in her purse.  It wasn’t doing any good back in the glove compartment.  Mick turned his head.  He was probably getting ready to bolt.  She didn’t blame him.  Liza stuffed her sketch pad into her bag and pulled it over her head so that it sat across her body diagonally.  She put the pen in her front coat pocket.  It was better than nothing.

She was trying to psyche herself up to make a move when Mick turned back to her suddenly.  “Come on,” he said.  He stood and waved her in front of him with one hand.  The other was extended toward the nearest opening in the gazebo’s railing.  He was ushering her out of the gazebo in front of him.  Liza flicked her eyes in Brad’s direction and back to Mick.  She didn’t know what to do.  “Liza!” he snapped.  Liza jumped up and walked out of the gazebo ahead of him.

# 13 – Ink

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Liza watched Bruce disappear up the street and wondered again where he lived. She glanced down at the clock on the dashboard. It was ten twenty-four. Casey would be asleep by now, so she circled around until she found a parking spot. She grabbed her bag and headed into the square.

Adams Square was a big park that took up a city block. It was meticulously landscaped with various bushes, trees, and flowers. Cobblestone walkways dotted with benches cut through the vegetation. Statues and fountains were scattered throughout. The trees were strung with big round Christmas lights that gave the square a festive atmosphere at night. It reminded Liza of a wedding she’d been to as a child. It was at an apple orchard outside of the city. The trees were all lit up, and she had spent most of the reception wandering up and down the rows, mesmerized by the lights.

She sat down under a tree and pulled out a pencil and the parchment. Liza began to sketch Bruce sitting on the bench in the garden at night. He was leaning slightly forward, arms out, palms flat on the marble. His long legs were bent in front of him. He looked like he might be getting ready to stand up. She put him in shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. Between the tattoos and the setting, at first glance he looked like someone you would cross the street to avoid. She spent a lot of time adding subtle details, more details than she usually included in her sketches. Each brick was a book cover. The ones closest to Bruce were books that had inspired his tattoos. If you didn’t look carefully, the words just appeared to be shading. A slim object was intertwined in the long fingers of his right hand. It could be a knife, until a second glance showed that it was a quill. Liza drew some bushes and flowers around the bench and then added ivy. The ivy grew every which way, snaking up the sides of the bench, around a tree, and across a few of the brick books. When she finished, the bench was almost completely ensconced in ivy.

Liza dug around in her bag for the black fine point pen she used to ink in her drawings. She carefully went over the sketch, spending extra time on Bruce’s face. She wanted to get his high cheekbones and dark, heavy-lidded eyes just right. As an afterthought, she sketched a full moon partially hidden from view behind a tree. Its light cast most of the left half of Bruce’s body in shadow. She slid the pen into her hair and held up the parchment to inspect her handiwork. She was happy with the way it had turned out. At first, Bruce looked somewhat menacing, but the details revealed themselves the longer you looked. The knife was a writing tool. The scuffed bricks were works of literature. The cocky sneer was a tentative smile.

Liza wished that she could give him the drawing now. Class wasn’t for a few days and she realized that in addition to not knowing where he lived, she also didn’t have his phone number. His office number was probably on the University’s website, but that seemed too stalker-like. She sighed and carefully tucked the drawing into her bag. It would have to wait. “Mysterious bastard,” she muttered under her breath.