Random Scribbles · writing

West Side Boys



Freddy drew hard on the joint and continued to shake the paint can he held in his right hand. Ruben and Manny were watching. They had his back. He trusted them to sound the alarm if necessary.

For the hundredth time he wondered what the hell he was doing. What was he trying to prove? He took another hit and stood back. In his mind’s eye he could see what he was going to paint. He knew what it would look like and he knew it would take about two cans and a little less than half an hour to complete. But, the question remained; what the hell was he doing? He didn’t owe these west side boys anything so, that being the case he better be doing this for himself.

Another hit, hold the smoke deep, hold the smoke long. He was preparing to write a long winded diatribe about gang life on the west side. At least that was what he hoped people would see, in reality what he planned to paint was an abstract design; an abstract design that resembled the sharp-angled text that other graffiti artists were using these days to deface private property. What he intended to paint would say nothing but he thought it would be pleasing to the eye.

Alfredo knew that he was an artist – not a vandal. He looked down at Manny.

“Ese, Manny,” he called in a stage whisper

Manny looked up and Fredo tossed him the joint. He watched Manny smile when he caught it and then turned to the whitewashed brick wall while removing the top from the paint can.

Smooth, fluid strokes were all that he thought about for 25 minutes and just over two cans of paint. There had been no alarm from either Manny or Ruben while he worked. He jumped off the ladder and Manny moved in to fold it and stash it back in the truck. Fredo and Ruby backed away from the wall and admired the result. Ruby pulled his phone and snapped half a dozen shots and they climbed into the truck where Manny sat waiting. The group moved slowly and silently away from the monochromatic painting into the midnight fog.

The piece lasted exactly ten days before the city eradication team covered it. Alfredo felt pretty good that it had lasted that long. The city usually painted over large works quicker than that. The west side boys were happy because Fredo was one of them, they thought.

Over the course of the next couple of months Freddy kept walking past that wall every couple of weeks. He lusted for that wall. It was a perfect canvas and he longed to put some “real art” there. He wanted to work with more than a single color on that wall. He knew he could do it justice.

One day, about four months after his work first appeared there, he walked by. He wanted to sit and indulge his craving, at least with his imagination but the walkway was blocked off and a crew was digging, setting forms and looking like they were planning to take his perfect spot away from him.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked an uptight white guy with a clipboard.

“Prepping the site for some kind of public art project,” the guy said then he walked away. He either didn’t want to share any more information or he didn’t know anything more. Fredo suspected the latter. He spit on the ground to show his disdain for the pendejo and moved on. It was a couple of weeks later before he got back and found the sculpture.

Fredo knew what it was. He puffed his chest out a bit before he sat to study it. He watched it and the reactions of the passersby all afternoon. It was beautiful. The tapering line weights looked exactly as he had originally done it. As evening slid over the area like a glove he made note of the LED lighting that was positioned to feature the sculpture. Now there were two; the sculpture itself and the shadow of the same on the wall that he had lusted after for so long. Freddy sat there until it was good and dark before he called Ruby.

“Do you still have those photos of the work we did here a few months back?” he asked.

“Of course,” Ruben told him.

“Bring your phone and get your skinny ass down here,” Alfredo said and he terminated the connection.

Ruby got there about half an hour later with Tomás and Guillermo. They flanked Freddy and they all stared at the sculpture.

“Wow,” Ruby said softly and he pulled up the photos he had taken all those months ago with Freddy and Manny. The sculpture was an exact copy of what Freddy had originally painted on the wall. He showed it around, but now it was sanctioned by the authorities. Nobody was going to paint this bad boy out.

The next morning Freddy went looking for Ramon Ramirez, who according to the brass plaque at the base of his design was the sculptor. Fredo knew he had a lot to learn and he wanted to start today.

fredo's graffiti






Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · writing

The Outsiders

Daily Prompt; The Outsiders

Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

Do you truly understand the Dewey Decimal System?
Have you ever taken something apart just to see if you could put it back together again?

Have you ever been the only one of your gender in a building crowded with “them”?

Have you ever been the smartest one in the room?
The dumbest?
The oldest?
The youngest?
The tallest?
The shortest?
The richest?

Have you ever been the emperor parading your new clothes?
Had to be the boss when you just want to hang with the guys?

Have you ever been the only one who knows how to do something?
Bake a cake?
Rope a steer?
Fix a car?
Rewire a lamp?
Talk to girls?
Program a computer?
Operate the VCR?

Have you ever been the new kid?
Kept out of the club because it’s “no girls allowed”?
Not spoken the language?
Not had the money to get what they all have?

Have you ever been the only one singing?
Working with watercolours when the others are using acrylics?
Turning right when everyone else turns left?
Drinking beer at a wine bar?

Have you ever lived in a country/state/city/town/neighborhood where you are a minority?


Random Scribbles · writing

deus ex machina


It was after noon when Sue pulled over and offered the stranger a ride. That was so, totally, not, something she would normally do, but somehow she felt compelled. It was the day before Thanksgiving, after all. They had been driving all day and hadn’t even stopped for gas. She had moved to pull off the highway, for fuel, in Bakersfield when she noticed the needle was hovering just above ‘Empty’ but he talked her out of it.

“What are you doing?” he had asked.

“I’m getting gas,” she told him, “The tank’s almost empty.”

“Don’t stop,” he said, “I’ll take care of it.” He moved his right hand, palm forward, in an arc in front of him. “OK?” he asked.

She glanced at the instrument cluster on the dash and saw that the gauge now indicated a full tank of gas. It had remained pegged above the ‘F’ ever since.

He had been wearing boots, jeans, and a chocolate coloured western cut shirt with his thumb out and a small backpack setting next to him, when she pulled over at the base of the ramp in Salinas to pick him up.

“I’m trying to get to Alderaan.” He had said through the window, then he climbed into the passenger seat and tossed his pack in the back. His voice had cracked when he said it, like a teenage boy going through puberty.

“I’m not sure where that is,” Sue had said but I can take you east for a while. I’m on my way to Albuquerque.

“I’ll tell you when to stop.” He smiled and she immediately trusted this young man.

He didn’t talk much and they were now way past Albuquerque. Sue had driven right through town, right past the exit she would take for her mother’s house. Because her passenger hadn’t told her to stop yet; and he had said he would. She trusted him.

She had the feeling that he had been transforming during the ride. She studied him surreptitiously, stealing glances as they drove through the night. Now, he was tall, dark and sometimes, he spoke with a deep voice and an echo. It seemed that he had changed his clothes somehow without her noticing; and he wore some kind of black body armor with a helmet, a mask, and a cape. She could hear him breathing.

They were just outside Roswell when he unbuckled his seat belt and reached for his pack on the seat behind him. He couldn’t quite reach it so he turned around in the seat and got up on his knees, his butt waving back and forth while he wrestled with the back pack. He got tangled up with his cape for a moment before he finally turned back around he plopped down in his seat. He sat there breathing for awhile.

Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale

Finally he spoke, “I have cookies,” he said and he held up a blue bag of Chips Ahoy, “want some?”

Sue realized she was hungry, “Oh yes please,” she had answered and held out her hand. He carefully counted out three cookies and placed them, almost reverently, on her palm.

“The Force is strong with you.” He said as he watched her eat the first chocolate chip cookie.

“Huh?” she grunted.

“You can drop me just ahead in Roswell at the 285 intersection. I’m being picked up at the Allsup’s station there. My friends will take me the rest of the way to Alderaan. We have a death star.”


She pulled off the 380 into the brightly lit Allsup’s truck stop and parked her car. They both got out and he grabbed his backpack, setting it on the concrete while he rummaged in the top zippered pocket. He removed something and kept it concealed in his hand.

When he stood again, she realized that he was now almost eight feet tall. He leaned down with his arms spread and they hugged awkwardly for a moment. She patted him on the back as they broke their embrace. In his hand he held something small which he placed in her hand and closed her fingers around it.

“This is where I would normally say something profound like, I am your father. But, I don’t think that’s really the case here and besides that would be only half of the story, Sue,” he said as he looked down at her.

Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale

“You’ll never have to buy gasoline again.” He turned and strode quickly into the darkness of the desert behind the Allsup’s and disappeared from view. She never saw him again, but she would remember him forever.

She looked down at her hand and saw that he had placed a small gold coloured plastic trophy there, “Third Place” it said. She tossed it through the window onto the seat and headed back towards Albuquerque. She would still be home in time to help her mother with the turkey.