I watched him do it—down there in the alley beside our house. “Up to no good,” my wife said. “Can you handle it, Sam?” she asked of me. “I’ll handle it,” I told her. But I just watched. I watched this tall man from our bedroom window standing in the alley, near our things, near my wife’s car she’s almost paid off, near the flowers finally blooming from finger-painted pots, near my daughter’s purple tricycle we won in a raffle just last week, near all the things a husband is supposed to protect. I opened the window and leaned my head out. I cleared my throat to sell it to my wife that I might have it in me to yell, just how a man has it in him to yell. But I just watched. I watched this man spell his name with pee on our red brick wall. He had two hands on it. He moved left to right, knees slightly bent and angled outward so that his jeans wouldn’t drop any further. His long flannel was pulled up and stuffed between his teeth. His hips thrust forward like he was doing the limbo. He shuffled the length of the wall like a number of things that might shuffle the shoreline: a fisherman, a photographer, a lifeguard — no, not just a crab. He traveled a great distance, something I’ve never had to do being given such a short, weak name: Sam. But this guy, he really moved. The full length of the wall, like I’ve said. Two hands on it, like I’ve said. And just like that, it was over. He opened his mouth and let his shirt hang. Pulled up his pants, buckled his belt. He stepped back from the wall. Centered himself in front of his work. Admired it briefly. Pulled out his phone to take a picture. Held the camera sideways, had to. The wall lit up, eleven letters dripping down red bricks: Constantine. Now that’s a name.
Darren Nuzzo and Toddy Smith are the authors of I’ll Give You a Dollar If You Consider This Art, a collection of stories, essays, and comics. They have work anthologized, featured in, or forthcoming with Wigleaf, Gone Lawn, Crack the Spine, and Okay Donkey.
Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower