Some words from my uncle, Bill Cannon
Walking the streets of Chicago at 3 a.m., my brother-in-law and I have the feeling that we are simultaneously well but not at all safe. There are few people out and those who are seem surely to be of extraordinary character, each advertently intent on being upon these streets at three in the morning.
Which leads me to ask, "why are we out here?" To which Rhodes replies, "Because it is Chicago and because it is 3 a.m. and because we are both goddamn hungry..."
Rhodes exhales smoke from a Winston and it drifts thin as we move through it.
I see him approaching. A quarter of a block away and I see that he has focused in on us. There will be contact. Get ready. When we are still 50 feet away he says, "How you doin' tonight?"
"Okay," we reply almost as a question.
"Can I draw your picture?" he asks, now face to face.
"No thanks ..."
"No, really, can I draw your picture, I'm a very good artist."
"No thanks, really."
"Look man," he says with intensity, "I just need some cash ... lemme ..."
Thinking that a panhandle was a probablitity, I already had my hand in my pocket. I brought forth some dollars.
"Thanks, thank you, " he says and we move to pass.
"No man," he says, "Don't go..."
We stop, a bristle of fear produced by his tone. There is danger, is there danger?
"Hey, I'm hungry, I want to get something to eat, but let me draw you ..." he says with near weakness. "I'm an artist, I appreciate the money, but let me ... earn it a little."
"It's okay," I say.
"No ... no it's not okay," he says, "just let me sketch a..."
And we fold, "awright, whatever..."
And in the cool spring night, on the cool Chicago sidewalk we stand quietly, wait patiently, hearing the simple scratch of his charcoal above the random city sounds. Horns, a siren, a distant voice and the artist sketching, a smile building on his face as he finishes.
"Thank you," he says, "thank you very much."
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