Fortuitous Art


caspian_icon.gif devi_icon.gif

Scene Title Fortuitous Art
Synopsis Caspian and Devi meet on a street between Red Hook and the rest of the zone and an offer of employment is made.
Date March 28, 2019

A well-travelled road following the border between Red Hook and Park Slope.

New York, even before the war, was a land of dichotomy.

Contrasts between rich and poor, haves and have-nots, gentrification and new buildings versus the old neighborhoods and their tradition were seen everywhere, sometimes on the same block, the same street, or the same floors of the same building. The city was the thing that kept everyone together, though. If you were here, either by choice or circumstance, you managed to survive in New York and give back as good as you got. That made you a New Yorker. Understandably, some of the people who migrated in after the war were given a long look before the moniker was bestowed, but others, like Caspian, who made himself a part of his community and offered jobs and training, was accepted pretty much the second he set foot in the city.

His penchant for graffiti helped, too.

Not the sort to brazenly scrawl his name across private property, Caspian was the one who managed to get the kind of graffiti he did classified as urban beautification, with a special stencil from the Safe Zone Commission that allowed his art to stay where it was for a good long while. The stencil was his promise to paint nice things on walls set aside for that purpose voluntarily by the owners and, when it was faded, painted over with neutral colors, ready to be painted again.

This evening, Caspian is busily painting in full view of the road, where passerby can stop and observe as paint is put to wall. Metal barricades are usually set up on the sidewalk, allowing passerby to stop and watch while others can wander by unimpeded, but today there are no barricades. He’s going old school. Dressed in paint splattered jeans and sneakers, a hoodie pulled up over his hair to keep the heat in, he could be mistaken for just about anyone. The latex gloves on his hands and the respirator mask covering his face, though, mark him as something different. Something interesting. An Artist.

A cardboard box filled with spray cans sits near the canvas that he works on, a few vivid colors already on the wall from previous tags and earlier work, poking up from behind the base coat he laid in deep green to compliment the foliage around the park. He’s drawing leaves, trees, and foliage, outlined in his colors with the graffiti behind as a base coat, making it look like the plants are growing graffiti-colored flowers. The outline of a girl, floating on her knees above the ground with a hand stroking through the grass below her is there too, ready to be filled in.

The aroma of cloves mingles with the gnawing fumes of paint - little tendrils of azure-black smoke drift up from the black cigarette pinched between fingers with matte black polish at their tips. The rest of Devi’s attire is a fair deal more colorful today, under the requist black Raven’s motorcycle jacket that is - black leggings with slashes of electric blue lightning following the curves of her long legs, a loose tunic of eclectic blues and violets that hangs off one shoulder beneath her coat and reveals a collarbone of entwining ink.

It’s no surprise the hooded figure hadn’t noticed her stop amidst the regular foot traffic, immersed in the embrace of an unseen muse that guides a stroke here and a sweep there. Devi finds an unfamiliar state of peace while simply watching for a time, letting passerby deviate around her. Finally, as shift of her weight gives a heavy scuff of her laced, calf-high boots on the gravel and draw her near enough to the painter’s personal bubble that she might very well break the mesmerizing condition of immersing oneself in art.

Her aqua painted lips pull a drag at the dark cigarette, so that her husky voice is made more so by the spilling of smoke… “Doing it legally almost takes away the edge.” She motions the glowing head of the cancer stick at the mural, a thoughtfulness turning down the corners of her lips. “But, somehow, you still manage to capture it.” After a moment’s more consideration, she nods approvingly, the motion and a breeze kicking up a few loose, black tendrils of her hair and cutting them across her pale face.

Finishing one last sweep of a dark, rich crimson, fine lines highlighting the branches of a tree in geometric precision, the hooded figure pauses and then stands, turning momentarily to glance at the woman who’s movement at the corner of his vision distracted, and then the speaking that caught his attention. Streaked liberally with paint, his respirator has apparently been with him for quite a few art excursions, both legal and not. brown eyes crinkle behind the edge of his respirator mask, the mouth behind it drawing into a quick, easy smile.

“Legal or illegal, doing it during the day sometimes gets me an audience. That's not something I could have on a highway sign or a tunnel wall. Then add in the fact that I happen to be an upstanding citizen of this fair city.” He says with a chuckle, reaching for another can, giving it a rattle, the top, a vivid blue, popped and tossed into the box specifically for such things. “At my age, getting caught performing acts of artistic vandalism would put a crimp in the art I do put out. Being known to the people in charge is normally a death knell for graff artists - I just adapted a little for the times.” Surely he’s joking - the man can't be more than 30. The can is tested, a mist of blue sprayed away from the woman, making sure the nozzle is clear before he steps in to paint, outlining the outline he just made, giving the piece depth and substance.

From her view, Devi can see the concentration on his face, even mostly hidden by the mask. The way his eyes soften as he gets into the zone, going almost out of focus as he can is rattled and sprayed until it's empty, another one brought up almost automatically, tucked into his hoodie pocket, and another color is taken. It's mesmerizing to watch, in fact, and as he steps up on something to get the higher branches of the tree, she finds herself looking up at him standing on…well…nothing at all. He turns to sit in mid-air, crossing his legs and looking down at her, reaching up to pull back his hood after removing his gloves, the respirator coming off to reveal a man that could easily be overlooked walking through the streets. Average height, average build, brown hair and eyes, but the colors left from the paint, outlining his cheekbones, marks him as an artist.

“I'm Caspian. Pleasure to meet you, miss.”

“Defensive much?” The words are a raspy tease of more smoke and smiles, a playful retort to the long explanation that was her reward for her earlier commentary. The cigarette is flicked away, shattering on the opposite side of the street in a miniature fireworks display of scattering embers. Devi doesn’t bother to look, or can’t be bothered, perhaps. Her dark eyes, shadowed in a smooth transition of azure to black, follow the man’s dance that summons imagination to two dimensional reality.

Her gaze slides from where his hands reach and give life and color to the wall, when something in her periphery rings just shy of the norm. She follows the line of his arms, his shoulders, toroso, and legs to… empty air. Taking a deep breath, pink tip of tongue visibly bitten between her pearly teeth, she combs back her wind blown, nightly locks. The deep inhalation is freed as a coarse chuckle with a subtle shake of her head. “Devi’ll do. Miss isn’t one I hear often and I have to say,” she tips her head to the side, consider a moment… “Nope. Don’t like it.” Her azure lips split along a bright smile, though.

“Nice ta meet you, too. What’s the word… fortuitous? Even. You say you do on the up-and-up for a price?” Again her gaze is brought back to the mural, her chocolate eyes dark enough to reflect the images as if in a nightly pool of water. For now, she avoids looking back to the man floating like a multi-colored cartoon monk over the sidewalk.

It takes a moment of sitting for her previous words to register, and when they do, Caspian actually looks sheepish. The teasing he deserves, the man raking a hand through his dark locks, glancing down the street. “It's a force of habit,” he admits, lamely. “Even with tacit permission to paint, there's still a few people on the council that see this as vandalism. They're in the minority, of course, but still…I get harassed sometimes and just…yeah. Sorry.”

All this is said with him sitting midair, as if nothing were amiss, the man finally scooting forward and sliding off something that is not there, his sneakers landing with a muffled thump. One of his spray cans tumbles out of his pocket to be deftly snagged and tucked away before it hits the ground. “Devi, then. Not miss. Blame my mother for telling me to always err on the more polite side when first meeting someone. She always said that if they didn't like it, they'd correct you. Case in point.” He taps his nose with a smile, divesting himself of empty cans and restocking his voluminous pockets, turning to look at the mural again.

“On the up and up, mostly. For a price?” He shrugs one shoulder. “Sometimes, but not usually. This is my meditation, and a way to bring some beauty to the city. It's more for the art than for the paycheck. If someone does want to pay, I generally have them donate to a food kitchen or a church, ‘cause with the way things are, there are people what need it a lot more than I do.”

Even half done, one can see what he's going for. Almost a fantasy scene of graffiti and wildlife juxtaposed, to fit into the place instead of clashing. To allow eyes to roam over it and discover new and hidden things in the mural, shapes, colors and forms not easily discerned on the first viewing. He glances down at a sketch held for the metal shutter with an old hard drive magnet, selecting a couple more cans that are tucked in alongside the others. “Why fortuitous? You looking for someone to paint a mural on a wall for you somewhere?” This is said with a chuckle, almost in jest.

“I ain’t going to blame your mother for jack,” she says, eyes still upon the fresh paint. “Anyone smart knows you never blame mama - you thank her.” The stars stamped in the porcelain flesh around her eyes shift gently, drawn up by her smiling. That smile, warm despite the cool tones of today’s ensemble, is turned back to Caspian as he explains his primary profession and reflects on those ‘more in need’. Slowly and subtly, dark penciled brows lift behind a few shadowy wisps of dark hair. Her lips move in a wave as she runs her tongue along her teeth behind them and turns her visage briefly to the sky. There’s a silent, thought-projected curse at the heavens - it’s always the evos with the big hearts. Always.

Clearing her throat, her chin comes back down and her dark eyes meet Caspian's paint-streaked face anew. “You got a little somethin’-somethin’,” she purrs. She waits a moment, letting the ambiguous words hang a moment for possible interpretation. Then, she reaches up makes a moment of rubbing her thumb along her high cheekbone while nudging her nose in Caspian's direction with a smirk. Chortling, she carries on, “Mediation, hm? That explain all the floaty voodoo?” Long fingers falling from her face, she wiggles them in the direction of the man’s sneakers before stuffing them into the pockets of her leather jacket to keep warm.

“Actually, yeah, I need a man.” Again, a pause and smirk. “An artist. My brother’s kinda M.I.A., you see - he’s usually the one that spices up the garage with tags and scenes.” A cant of her head indicates the mural work on display. “Your style’s different, and that’s kinda what I’m going for. New start, new garage, new look. Assuming you don’t mind the company of a couple grease monkeys, I’d be willing to strike a deal. Though, I gotta admit - you’d have to tell me where to find a food bank, cause me and churches aren’t tight.”

Call it stress relief, meditation, or a way to do something that turns Caspian’s brain off. Either way the end result are murals scattered around the city that Devi has more than likely seen in passing. Murals of inspiring words, nature, and people living life in happiness. Lots of fulfilling stuff - not the usual tags that appear bragging that Sofles, AdRock, or Q-Bert were on this block and happened to have a can of Krylon. Caspian’s art take more time and planning and a lot more money. His sketchbook, if it’s ever brought out to show, is filled with plans on top of plans, and there wouldn’t be enough walls in the city to fill with the art he wants to put up. Still, he smirks and glances back at the wall he’s working on, then to the box of paint where a shade of azure sits that’s remarkably the same shade as Devi’s lipstick. It’s grabbed along with a few other shades and, while conversing, Caspian climbs an invisible set of stairs where the outline of the woman in the grass lays. “I’m glad we’re on the same page.” He says with a nod, pulling his respirator mask back into place, the snap of rubber gloves following close behind. ”And I’m really pleased you’re not going to blame momma for teaching me manners. Far too little of that sort of thing in the world nowadays. Respect is earned, not given, and the best way to start earning respect is by starting out on the right foot. Besides.” He glances over, giving Devi a wink. “Getting on my bad side is the best way to go about not getting some art sprayed in your place.”

The muffled rattle of the can, the pop of the cap and the hiss of paint spraying can be heard, a cloud of pale paint - Bondi, according to the cap - drifts upwind of where Devi stands. The body of the woman he’s painting taking shape. Her comments about him having a little something and her needing a man? Those are left alone. Yes, he’s noticed, and unless he’s completely blind, that’s got to be a little bit of flirting. Right? It’s been a while since it’s happened, so he might be insensitive to such things. Still, he can play it coy too.

“The floaty thing, though? That I was born with.” So he’s evolved, admittedly. “As far as mural for your place? Sure. We’d need to sit down and figure out what you want. Let me sketch you out a couple of ideas before I start so you aren’t surprised with what goes up.” He paints a few moments more, the Bondi can replaced with Blue Shimmer, then Licorice back to outline even more. “If you want differences, I can vary the style. This is how I normally work, but if you want more old school, like a Wildstyle tag of a slogan, I can do that too.” The empty can is tossed down to the box below, sliding on an invisible slide to land with a clank, Caspian turning to look down again from his perch slightly above, sinking back to the ground after a moment.

“I’m an electrician. Those solar panels on Red Hook? That was the people I trained.” This is said with a little bit of pride, the respirator removed so they can talk a little easier. “Hanging out with people that work with their hands is par for the course for me.” He lifts his hands to show them, still hidden in gloves, streaked with paint. “I’ve got dirt and grime underneath my nails, same as them, and probably a few slivers of wire stuck in places to boot. Working in Yamagato or here on the street doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. Pride in your work, respect for your people, and knowing when to keep your mouth shut? Give me someone with those qualities and I could rebuild the whole damn city.” Caspian grins, looking up at the art on the wall for a second, then back to Devi.

“Now I’m not entirely altruistic. I’ll get a few bucks for myself or a favor or two for the painting.” He clarifies. “That said, I’ll point you toward a couple of places to fling a few bucks or some people who could use some work done on a motor or two. As far as churches and I go? Well, aside from the usual Easter visit that sometimes happens every five or so years, the only reason I mention churches is because they’re one of the main support systems left in the Zone. When you don’t have a society to cling to, you go for religion to make sense of the world.”

That wink above the respirator mask pops a dark brow on her pale countenance. Azure lips pucker with the effort to keep from smirking, an effort which ultimately fails. She listens, dark eyes taking in the artist's mannerism and with a curious cant of her head, dark hair a shadowy halo backdrop to her visage of contrast - alabaster flesh, dark tattoos, and somewhere between the wild colors painted on her lips and eyelids.

Devi watches the ascension of the invisible stairs and the can down the transparent slide with the intensity of a child trying to reverse engineer a magician's performance. Ultimately, though, she get gaze swivels back to Caspian. "Just when I think I've seen it all," she comments with a smile, but there's a bit of an exasperated edge to her voice. Being one of them has never made understanding Evos' abilities any easier.

"A city of hard working folks? The War didn't give us that fresh a start. Besides," she pulls her hand from her pocket and points a black fingernail at Caspian. "It's the idea of 'your' people,'my' people, and 'their' people that got us in such a mess." The pointed finger wags playfully at the artist before her other hand, too, is pulled from insider her leather jacket. She steps forward and holds up a small black business card. On one side there is an address and phone number, on the other white line art forms the image of a raven, a cyan roman numeral two superimposed over the bird's breast.

"Come by the shop. Take a look around at the space, get a feel for the canvas and all that." She gives the card an encouraging twitch in Caspian's direction. "Then we can grab a drink and talk 'bout the design. Don't worry, I'm not difficult to please." With that, the biker woman steps back and stuffs her hands in her pockets, shrugging her shoulders up against the early spring chill.

“Better together than apart.” Caspian says, taking his scolding stoically before snagging the card, leaving a pale thumbprint that nearly covers the top left corner of the face. A quick blow over the card to dry the paint and then it's tucked into his breast pocket, inside the hoodie, where it won't be lost. “A man can dream of finding the perfect spot, finding good people to stand with, that you stand with even if they don't deserve it. But what's the saying? Wish and crap in the same hand and see which one fills up first? Better to try and make the world the one you want it to be. Too many people out there that will take until there's nothing left.”

Caspian pats his breast pocket. “I’ll give you a call.” He says, going quiet and studying Devi for a few moments, the juxtaposition if dark and light, of pale skin and tattoos and the color of her lips and eyes that combine to form the vision standing before him. All in all, she's putting on quite a show and a lot of effort for just standing out on the street. Seeing her without makeup? That might be on the same level as seeing the woman sans anything at all. Caspian grins cheekily at the thought, pushing it down and trying to maintain his professionalism. “How’s Monday evening look? I can get some sketches together over the weekend in different styles. Stuff that fits your style, stuff that fits your greasemonkey friends.”

Her comment about not being difficult to please? That gets a shake of his head in the negative. “Devi, I find it hard to believe you're easy to please. Everyone I've met that says that is incredibly difficult to please, but the effort is always worth it to me. You said it was fortuitous that you found me painting today, and I'm not just going to waste my time to give you a simple throw up or two. Once we get together, be critical. Tell me what works, what doesn't, and what you really, really want on the wall. It's just paint and time. One I have a great deal of, and the other I don't mind spending on the use of the other.”

“I’ll bring the whisky. Single malt okay?”

A short, husky chuckle is reply enough to the fun old phrase shits and wishes. Devi finds herself smiling at the censored version and indulges a little nod. “An apt analogy for what’s left of NYC,” she comments before her chin is turned and her gaze is upon the mural once more. “But, it’s gettin’ a bit better every day,” she adds in a pensive, manner, her dark gaze once more reflecting the prismatic colors as it flits here and there, absorbing the beauty as if it can be stored up and saved for a rainy day.

She takes a half step back, hand coming up from a pocket to rest upon her sternum as she turns that devilishly sweet smile back upon Caspian. “Oh, don’t worry - I’ll let you know just what I like,” she retorts on the matter of her critiques to come. With that she turns back about, boots scuffing briefly on the sideway. “Whisky’s a start. See you then, Dreamer.” She waves a little peace sign over her shoulder, her dark silhouette drifting casually off down the street.

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