It is nearing morning and I have been bent over, crouched, in this base way for several hours, now. My magnum opus, my current masterpiece stretches from His doorstep to the gutter. It is an analogy I relish in.

My worn, cramped hand dives again into a pocket. Dove Feather Grey - a piece I collected months ago, a color tossed by some child in a sandbox. The chalk edge frames the stark lighting of His face, smirking up from the sidewalk. Dove Feather is one of my favorites.

I realize my work is highly temperamental; at the mercy of wind, water, and any who wantonly cross her. But so is life, alike to chalk dust.

I have broken the sidewalk, the cement blocks. In colored dust the squares have been hefted away to show the labyrthine piping beneath, the dank sewer, and the specter of Him grinning up from the bottom. He edges something obscure, something blurred into the turbid river with a foot yet he winks towards the populus above, innocent faced and endearing. The river is bile. The heap, the thing I hunch over now, is a collective of cloth and symbols - dirty laundry and those who air it. Most striking is a crimson 5 partially submerged in the river, touching it but unaffected.

My signature, a soft-eyed puppy, eyes the proceedings. Puppy for fidelity. Puppy for honesty. Puppy for Laika.

I rise and stretch as the new sun filters through the twilight congealed in alleyways. I gather my broken pieces, tenderly swaddle them in soft cotton to tuck in an inside pocket. From this view, right at the top of His steps, it looks as if the sidewalk has crumbled open to reveal Himself glancing up from this vile sewer stream. From any other perspective the image twists into a mess of irrelevant lines.

By the time He skuttles out of his apartment to stand, gaping, over my work, I am already slumped heavy against the outer side of his stairway with my papers. He stomps, swears, smudging the face out with a fine sole. This makes me sad and I watch him with sleepy eyes.

Perhaps He notices, perhaps one of the hulking men behind him whispers something in his ear, but He spins and advances on me, spluttering. A thug, all noir suit and opaque glasses, grips me by the shoulders and swings me up.

He yells at me, too.

I just blink at him. Someone once told me I have "grave eyes, pools of ponderings and philosophy". This someone was a nice kind of person, until he went away one day gibbering about vitreous humor and how it really isn't funny at all.

This man isn't like that, but maybe he was thinking along the same lines since he shudders and puts me down again. I flop into my corner and He comes over. He is twitching, shivering like he's cold and he wags a finger at me. I think He asks me a question.

"Trompe l'oeil." It is the first thing I have said in several weeks. My voice squeaks a little as He stares at me.

He flushes, finger shivering. "Trump leeoal?" He garbles.

I motion to the sidewalk and draw my coat tighter around my person. It is going to be a cold day.

He seems confused, asks me if that was who did it. I shake my head and duck further in the cool brick crevice. People never ask me questions for nice reasons.

A thug points out the papers I am huddled on and He gets all flustered again, yelling some more. They are printouts of Rebel Voice that a nice lady with dark hair gives to me each week. She has the kindest smile around, much nicer than His or the thugs', and sometimes she smiles at me and that is even better.

But now He is getting angry again. I think He had been talking at me but I wasn't listening. That happens sometimes. I don't think it happens to Him much, though, people not listening to Him; and He doesn't like it.

So now the thugs yank me up again, grumbling something dark. One twists my ear as he throws me on the pavement, which makes my eyes pool with more than ponderings. And now He gets in his waiting car and slams the door and I watch as His thugs gather up my papers and tear them and burn them with lighters pulled from pockets.

Now they spill their coffees on my art.

Now the dust blurs and pinwheels in the gutter as they drive away.

I lay there for a minute, coughing whisps of color, when something buzzes against my hip. I roll on my back and fish the phone out. It is a special phone, someone told me once. This someone was headlight-eyed behind glasses and he spoke in fast blurbs about phone company this and politics that. I remember he waved his arms a lot whenever he spoke, so it seemed like he'd never lower the phone enough for me to grab it.

"Puppy. It's me. I need you at the bus lot. Now."

Sometimes I don't remember things. Sometimes people don't like me for it and scream that I'm lying or to get out. Sometimes people aren't very nice.

Sometimes I sign my work with my given name. Sometimes the puppy turns to face you and you can make out a name engraved on its tag. The name of Laika Grozny.

But so is life, alike to chalk dust: susceptible to a blurring of lines and mockingly simple to wipe away.

The End

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