The train wailed and heaved as everyone involuntarily danced inside its rumbling hearth, gripping the innards and sitting on chairs just to keep still.
You certainly don't need to ride these trains.
You also certainly don't need source material for an art series.
Sacrifices have to be made and that's your safety when it comes to the streets of Gotham. It's always a give and a take. These funny tattooed walls and the thousands of stories these faces have to tell are perfect for your thesis. Gotham has always had such a coin flip between grunge and rich bungalows, there's no in between. There's no middle class like one would expect and you can see it in the deep lines etched in thousands of different and familiar faces everyday.
There's no way you can find that rich source at home. Even in your neighborhood, their hands are soft, lines are faded and smiles means genuine happiness there. There's no struggle to face like it is here in this concrete maze.
You want another perspective.
Is it because you were always sheltered with a nuclear family and roots that draws blood the color of green?
Whatever the case may be, this is far more interesting than cascading about in your Alpha Delta Pi sorority that your mom insists having for brownie points and more opportunities, that frankly, you don't really care about. You just want to make art.
The train squealed to a stop and you glare at those departing and those boarding. Your city Gotham clothes were from a consignment store, it's more like a uniform as you go about quickly sketching the next crew of people in the train. Through your shades, you glare at the scarred faces. They hopefully don't know you're glaring at them, observing them, and plastering them in your sketchbook.
You'll bask in this train for hours and into the night. That's when the more interesting ones come out.
Right now its 11 PM.
For a few months after you began to ride the train you've noticed a man.
Not necessarily anything outside of the interest in how he acts.
Yes, he's one of your favorite subjects to quickly sketch over and what's great is he doesn't notice anything.
He's lanky, and his clothing are either of warm color scheme or a neutral tone outside of his clown attire. No matter the colors he wears, the pain you see in his face is vibrant.
He's always calculating where he sits and if he's not far enough from others while sitting, he will stand as far away from them as he can. At first, you didn't know he was the same man in his clown attire, but you tagged him with his sudden movements of laughter and the greenest green eyes that would go wide with panic.
In your own head, you forgot the train moved until it stopped once more. You waited to see his appearance and straightened your form. You shifted your head for a moment, glaring at each person who boarded the train.
Is it him?
Ooh. What about-
Finally, after some time, he steps in and quickly places to the empty corner on the far end of the cart. Fortunately, you didn't have to quickly pace to each cart to find him per usual.
You're not obsessed with him.
It's just he provides more source material than much of the people here. At first, you thought his laughter was incredibly uncomfortable, admittedly. Until you found each time someone lurched back from the cry, he would quickly give them a card. At one moment, you were close enough to read it.
It was a condition.
A laughing condition, how funny?
Each time he laughed, there were clear tears sprinting down his face.
You silently pace yourself just close enough to him and take your seat. His head cranes against the metal wall as his body seeps against the corner. He was in his regular attire this time. A neutral tone of an earth vest, white long sleeves, brown slacks, and a jacket right around it. He would never fully get rid of the clown paint once it sheeted his face. It always hid under his jaw. Man, he's exhausted today. His brunette hair weaves against his bobbing head and the train resumes. His eyes begin to lazily close as he wraps his arms around himself.
As soon as you see he is in a bit of slumber, you quickly sketch his form.
His depression sings in this sketch today.
There's something so unfathomably strange about him. Probably it's just his laughter and awkward posture.
You focus on him as he is halfway into slumber. Your fingers flick the pencil as quickly as they can to mimic the image of him before the train screeches to a stop again. His eyes struggle open. His lashes cover his iris for a moment as he glances around lazily.
"Hey, that's pretty good."
You freeze for a moment and glare to the sound. It was an elderly man glaring at you red handed. His yellow winter cap and grey oversized trench coat didn't appear to be helping too much as he shivered for a moment.
"Ahah, thanks so much." You spoke quickly, trying to snipe the conversation from getting too loud and long.
"How long did it take you to draw that?" His voice croaked. It's not like you'd count the minutes. Nor, was it that interesting. Maybe this man should just mind his own business.
"Oh… ah- probably about 10 minutes, I usually don’t count-" You were interrupted
"It looks just like the fellow. Hey, Maury, Come look here."
It took no time to quickly get your shit together before the next one arrived. You cringe and snap the book closed as fear picked up in you when turning to glare at the subject. It's a straight mirror and he's glaring at you.
"Hey, can you show my friend your art?" The elderly man asked.
You quickly shake your head without thinking.
"No-no, it's fine. I've got to get off in this stop anyways-"
You see movement from the corner of my eyes and glare at the man you were drawing again when he leaned forward, almost curious of the scene. In that moment, you witness child like wonder. His eyes skate between you and the book.
Don't panic. Don't panic.
Fuck it, he's totally going to think you're a psycho maniac if he finds you1've been sketching him for some time…
For months. Making exhibition work out of him.
He's a goldmine full of emotions, you can't lose him. As soon as the train stops, you shoot up and pace quickly through the doors as the man yells:
"You've got great art!"
Who the fuck in this dopey city cares about anyone but themselves here? Nonetheless, a tiny sketchbook. Does that man have search glass in his lenses?
You're zooming as you quickly climb from the subway to the rough surface of Gotham.
"E-excuse me. Excuse me! Ma'am-"
How can this decrepit old man run this fast?
You turn around and instead of the yellow cap and the grey trench coat, it's the neutral hue of a thin jacket and its draping over a frame that's even thinner. His brunette hair drapes over his gaunt cheeks and strong jaw.
His body inhales and exhales from the run to catch up to me.
The subject slowing his way down to you with his jacket that's too skimpy for this cold weather. You raise my hands up and wave.
"Look, look, I'm sorry I know I seem creepy-"
Suddenly, through his small exhales, he lurches forward and snickering grows into yowling laughter that he throws out of his mouth. You nearly flinch until you remember.
"Haha! No, no! Haha! You're not-" He gasps and his brows furrow in apparent frustration. Fumbling through his pocket, he hands you his condition card. You ignored the writing on it and continue to glance at the thin, meager man.
He coughs for a moment until he's quiet. His body straightens once more and he glares away momentarily to throw the embarrassment from himself.
"You're not." He responds delicately. He's as frail as he sounds. He sounds much more gentle than his mannerisms. He holds out your artist .5 mechanical pencil to you.
"You dropped this on the way out."
"Oh, thanks." You say all too quickly and take it from his hand. You step back about walk again when he opens his mouth.
"Were-" he stammers and glances at your book the saddled between your palm and side.
"were you drawing me back there?"
You freeze and glare away from his face even though he couldn't see it.
"….I guess so."
You paused for a moment and eventually he beams at your sketch book. Almost in a similar childlike fashion, he inclines his head before hints of his merriment coughs through his voice.
"Ahah… That's really nice. Can I see?"
What is it today with people suddenly wanting to see your art? Well, you can't really blame him since it was him you were drawing after all. You sigh and quickly open straight to the page, noting to keep your hand around the rest of the pages. You thrust your arm out to him and he lingers with his eyes wide. When his hand goes for the book, you swiftly pull it away from him in fear he might grow peculiar of the rest of what's inside of it. He recoils.
His eyes are far paler and more emerald close like this. His hair that hovered under his shoulders flailed from the freezing wind. For whatever reason, he seemed more youthful than you. Although, you can almost count the years of the deep-set lines that crown around the corner of his lips. His voice is softer than yours but his frail, willowy body, and the tension in his face is the same as people who swig liquor under the sun's tears. It was possibly his thick char eyebrows or the rich, long lashes that line his malachite eyes. This conflict disturbs you because you don't exactly know what to get from his presence.
"I- I love it."
He speaks and then zips his lips as if it were a secret not to come across to you. You nod your head in confusion.
Isn't this creepy to the poor bastard? Wouldn't this offend him?
"Look, listen, ehm… I've got to go. So, have a good night." You speak quickly and pace away from him before he could speak. You glare back over my shoulder and he's standing in the same spot you left him.
His eyes are deep when they glare. His thin frame droops the farther you pace away.
You pass the corner and quickly scamper to the black limousine before anyone could even spot you. The squelching of the leather as you entered the back seat made you the most uncomfortable that night. It's a reminder of home. The pine scent misted with a new car smell made you grimace.
The alluding tone of Marcus made you glare at the mirror viewing his brown eyes. You mentally scoff, ready for him to always ask you questions that gaslight why you're even here to begin with. Like, you don't have a right to go where as you please.
"I've got what I wanted like always." You nearly snarled in annoyance.
"Like the brat you are, I take it." He snickered and revved the car. You glare at the trash that littered the streets. The people who are using old, tattered rags and quilts to cover their delicate paper skin.
"Would a brat want to come here, Marcus?" You replied to him with a question. The car slightly whimpered as it stops and the flash of red hits the side of you. A man leans on a wall as a sheet of shadow covers his upper half and smoke snakes away from him.
"No. Though, a brat wouldn't understand here."
This is not the only time he's done this. You wouldn't understand it here no matter how far of a venture you took. You're not trying to understand it; you're trying to feel what it is that's outside of your life. You don't want to repeat it like you always have. You shake your head.
"I'm not even going to answer you on this."
He scoffs again.
God, you hate that fucking scoff.
' Just go on with the reasons why you think I'm this and that. But, he scoffs and stays quietly judging me. '
"You think I can't take your criticism?" You sliced through the silence with annoyance.
"If I were to tell it like it is, honestly, you probably wouldn't get it."
You met him with a scowl in the rear-view mirror.
"Wouldn't get what?" The car revved again at the green light.
"Hm. Poverty." He says. You grimace for a moment.
"And how am I supposed to know that? You think we all choose where we grow up?"
He shrugged his shoulders and and shook his head. You both fell into silence from long drive home. The film of the concrete jungle slowly turned into evergreen and white picket fences to cobblestone and whimsical metal fences. Finally, the car stopped at my house outside of the soriety.
"Dont let the bed bugs bite. Haha. Like you'd have to worry about them" He retorts.
You slammed the back door and walked up the driveway to the house. It was a 2 bedroom, of course with you being here and your dad financing the majority of the place, you have the second room as my studio. You threw your coat on the rack and slug to your room. You let gravity coax your body and kiss the comforter that's draped neatly across your bed. You look at everything except your art that pieced together like a puzzle on four corners of your room. Both finished and in progress. The room goes dark and that's when you realized your eyes were closed.