An Exchange In Wasteland

June 29, 2008
By Brit Wigintton, El Camino Village, CA

I just wanted to let go and relax my muscles for once after having to use them to stand as I was thrown around amongst other sweaty bodies for hours. From there I lied on the black painted cement, not caring anymore about the dirt that would stain my once-white shirt after the long day, I saw him only when he stood directly over me. I lifted the camera to my eye and captured what would seen to be upside-down but from where I was it was just what I was seeing, my viewpoint.

It would seem that on a night so late and in a place so empty and desolate, my intuition would be blinking, telling me that I should get up and move away from this stranger. But there was something in his honesty, in his exhausted gait as he slouched up to me, that made me stay on my stretch of cement.

And when I took that picture, he was looking down at me, the brim of his navy hat dark on the underside but color-drained from standing in the weakening sun and his unshaved face showed he wasn’t that old in the slightest.

The boy who approached me painted himself. Into the folds of my brain he crawled and began to stroke his brush as soon as he entered my sight. That exchange we had there, from when I took the picture on, it has stuck with me.
He shared with me his art, his last resort past the sunset. After a day of trying to sell the art that he created to those that were waiting anxiously in a seemingly endless line to see bands he only wished he was playing alongside, he was sharing with me just for the sake of letting me listen.
And as I did, as soon as I slipped on the very used headphones and drank in the sound, the guitar’s slow picking paired with a voice chock-full of emotion and pain, the pain and everlasting exhaustion I could just see on his face.

Another shadowy face appeared over me and I lifted the camera to my eye again. From my odd angle with the backing of the powerful music, I took another photo.

They had to depart. I returned their headphones and thanked them for sharing a slice of their minds with me, that it had left me very full from consumption. They nodded appreciatively, didn’t ask me for any money in return, they just offered me a goodbye and started on their journey to their van they had parked nearly twenty-four hours ago the one where their alternating sleep patterns took place through the nights as they drove, with the fast food boxes littering the floor. But with each step with each turn of the tires with each stoplight they watched change late at night I hoped it brought them closer to whatever each of them wanted.

I wished this in return for the gift the boy had given me, this simple exchange outside the deserted fairground, amongst the wasteland of band stickers and abandoned handouts, empty crushed water bottles and bright lights from overhead that illuminated the vast empty parking lot. As their silhouettes disappeared into the darkness, I lied back down releasing, relaxing, and wishing.

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