I couldn’t say what his face looked like, the face which my peripheral vision identified he had; but my focus was towards his hands, at what they grasped, and then my brisk pace carried me past my instinctively brusque “no”, and I don’t look back. I didn’t look back in daylight hours prior, similarly ignoring the just-few-dollars asker or the for-a-slice-of-pizza pleader; before it was 9:45pm, much too early to be late, too late to be early, a Monday night on an Uptown block dimmed by streetlamps, neither alone nor accompanied. Drugs, I rationalized half a block away, half a block from the redline station, it had to be drugs; much much later- half an hour so, 4 redline stops so, within my own apartment so, writing down my reflections so- I added a 5% chance of prostitution.

My microsecond glance registered in his hands, in black binding, on white paper, lines on a dirty white pages, multiple angles of charcoal overlapping one another, each in a corner, shadowy figures which only resembled chaos. Whatever other intention they might have couldn’t be guessed without breaking stride; a fraction of a second was barely long enough to determine that the shapes were unfamiliar, leaving no time to consider their bearer, who with retrospect I assume had hair, wore clothes, had a race, had arms: but the only thing I could say for certain was that he had a voice and a vocabulary of at least 6 words.

“You wanna buy some art tonight?”