Month 2 of 12 Teaser Tale #8 by David O’Boyle
Illustration by Ashley Schwann

“Go home then. Nobody’s forcing you to be here,” he said in between brush strokes.

The helper holding the bottom of the ladder wiped a drip of fresh paint from his forearm. It’s not that. It’s just risky.”

“What is?” he shouted down.

“Vandalizing a billboard.”

“It’s not vandalism. It’s art.”

“It can be both.”

“Not when I make it.”

“And you just do this for fun?”

“I don’t know if fun is the right word. More like nostalgic.”

“Why can’t you just draw it on canvas like other artists?”

“It doesn’t have the same effect,”

“It won’t have any effect if you don’t finish. How long you  going to be?”

“As long as it takes.”

“To finish or get arrested?”

“Maybe both? Hand me the second stencil, will ya?”

“There’s a second stencil? I don’t remember a second stencil.”

“In my bag, over by the road,”

“Over by the road is a big area. Whereabouts?”

Blue and red flashing lights lit up the bag. .

“Right there.”

The helper scrambled to dispose of the evidence. “Leave the bag where it is,” the Painter said. Then he leaned back on the ladder for a better look at his work.

“Suit yourself man. You’re crazy.” A moment later he disappeared into the night.

A dented police car with a broken windshield hobbled forward and idled by the stencil bag.

“Cop tonight Oberyn?” the Painter inquired.

“It’s rare I get to ride in the front of one of these. Wanted to see what it felt like before we crush it,” Oberyn said.  “Did he recognize anything before running off?

“Nah, he’s getting worse.” Eyeing the second stencil still in the bag, the Painter left the ladder and grabbed it himself. “Doctor said that deep-seeded memories are hardest to forget. We’ve been painting this billboard for the salvage yard together since we were kids. If he can’t remember that, it’s all .

“We still have to find him,” Oberyn said.

The Painter zipped up the stencil bag. “How far can a 70-year-old Alzheimer’s patient get in the dark on his own property?”

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