Claude Monet, “Woman with a Parasol” 1875 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
“Thank you, Ma’am, for letting me sketch you. I will take my sketch home and paint it out. It should be ready for you to pick up by next Wednesday.” The woman nodded. Roderick handed her a note card with a fake address on it. He bowed formally to her and then watched her walk away with her son. He pocketed the coins she gave him.
That was quite convenient. Maybe I should sit in parks during the afternoon more often. She wasn’t rude to me at all. And she didn’t slap me just for offering. He looked at the sketch. This should build up my pocket just fine. I’m sure I can copy it several times and sell it as I walk through the rest of Virginia. Ladies and gents are usually sympathetic to a man who’s lost his dear dear wife and son.
Roderick put his sketch book and cedar pencil in his breast coat pocket as he stood up. He straightened his hat, pulled at his lapels and began walking. He had a tent on the outskirts of town and needed to change from his fancy clothes before they began to stink. It was another hot day. Oh, I can’t handle this heat all summer. He tugged at his collar.
Maybe I should head north after I pick up more pencils in Tennessee. I hear it’s cooler up there. He put his hand in his coin pocket and jangled it. It has been a productive week here, but I think it’s time to go. Never too long in one place.
“Hey there! You!”
Roderick turned around slowly, placing a big plastic smile on his face.
“It’s me! James Merriwether. I wonder how you’re coming along on my wife’s portrait?”
“Oh, hello, Mr. Merriwether. Well, it’s a good thing you spotted me. I’ve had an issue with my paints and I am missing a particular yellow that I need to finish it. I was actually just on my way to the general store to see if they carry it. Seems this is a pretty big town and I shouldn’t have to order it.”
Merriwether nodded in understanding, but raised an eyebrow. “Aw, that’s too bad. I was hoping to come by your house and get a glimpse?” He nudged Roderick with his elbow.
“Yes, that is indeed too bad.” Roderick put on his sad face. “Well, it’s been good to see you. Perhaps you could give me ’til Tuesday to finish? That is, if the shop has the paint.”
Merriwether looked at the ground. “Why, that is distinctly disappointing. But, alas, what can I do. I will come by Tuesday lunch to pick up the portrait.” With a lift of his hat and a nod he walked on.
I’d better get a move on. I really do need to get to Shelbyville for pencils. I’m getting a little too old for this game. Maybe with all the traveling I do, Zeb will give me some to sell. Humph. That’s it. I’ll try to sell the pencils. Maybe try to make an honest living for a change.