Authors: Kenya Wright,Jackie Sheats
That better not be who I think it is.
I turned around. “This is making me uncomfortable.”
Dr. Sheep/Wolf/Whatever kept his gaze on Pierre who was mumbling sorry behind me.
“Did you touch her?” my sudden hero asked.
“I only grabbed her arm,” Pierre said. “But it’s not as bad as it sounds.”
“Don’t touch her again.”
“I second that.” I spread my hands out on my sides and drew a huge circle around me. “This is my space bubble. How about both of you back up.”
I checked and both men did.
Pierre’s voice was more accusation than a question. “You told her your identity?”
“It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t believe I’m Wolf, anyway.”
matter. Part of your success is the mystery—”
“My success is the art.”
She’ll need to sign a form saying that—”
“No.” Wolf waved the statement away. “She’s run the streets with some of the same people I’ve known or mentored in this game. She understands the need for privacy and all the things that could happen if my identity is revealed. Besides, I know her identity too.”
I turned to see Pierre’s response, not willing to disrupt the conversation. Sometimes silence helped me learn the truth of most situations.
They are really talking about him as if he’s Wolf. Is this for real?
“She’s only starting out,” Pierre said. “If you tell the world who she is, it won’t cause as much damage for her. But, sir, if your identity is known. . .there would be many repercussions. Things that you may have never considered. Think about it. You’ve desecrated government buildings in foreign countries during a time of war when US citizens weren’t welcome, and I told you it was a bad idea, but—”
“Those Palestinian kids needed the unicorns and rainbows of the world more than I needed to play it safe. It was the least I could do. Too bad I couldn’t have taken them all. They needed to see something special instead of men killing each other.”
No. There’s no fucking way this is him. I mean. How the hell could this be him? I pictured a much older guy. He’s older, but. . .
Wolf’s unicorn stunt had been all over the news. CNN had even started its own Wolf section, updating the art world monthly on his recent stunt. He’d been one of the pioneers of the graffiti game. People were fascinated by his innovative images within clear critiques of society.
A year ago a cop had shot an unarmed black boy on a regular afternoon in front of hundreds of school kids. The cop never lost his job. No justice came. Everything in that town seemed lost. Death appeared like this black cloud over the whole area and the world sat back in their houses and watched on their television screens. A day later the boy’s life and town’s damage had been forgotten due to a celebrity teen getting drunk and pissing on a gate in front of the White House.
Wolf changed the tone. The next morning, a large controversial mural was painted all over the back of the police station. How he’d done it? No one knew. It took major balls. Police had to be there 24/7. In fact, the very idea of vandalizing a police station during a state of unrest was insane.
But, Wolf did it.
He’d drawn three laughing clowns, dressed in police uniforms and holding massive machine guns that were shaped like black, bulging penises. These haunting men stood on top of a big mountain of dead boys,
all with dark brown skin,
decorated in bullet holes,
and tears spilling from their eyes.
Their hands gripped school identification cards between their little fingers.
Blood spilled between the dead children,
At the top of the mural, he’d sprayed, “
Wolf represented more than street art. He symbolized social activism. He was my hero, why I shifted from Mickey Mouse penises to something more.
The things he painted targeted governments and the police, put them all on notice for their lack of humanity. He triggered social discourse.
And they hated him for it.
Pierre’s voice disrupted my thoughts. “Those unicorns almost got you killed.”
Sighing, his only response was. “Let’s finish this later. Red doesn’t have to sign anything.”
“Okay, sir.” Pierre nodded and then turned to me. “I’m sorry for grabbing your arm.”
“Apology accepted,” I said.
Wolf gestured for me to enter. “Come on inside, Red. There’s no need for me to dress up as Grandma. You already know that I’m the Wolf. However, I almost put on an old lady’s dress and wig, but I figured I would creep you out. And I’m trying not to do that.”
I raised my eyebrows and didn’t move.
“Are you really Wolf?”
My heart beat fast in my chest. “Prove it.”
My excitement faltered a bit. He was still someone I didn’t know. Idol or not, I couldn’t put myself in a dangerous situation. “Why do you want me in there?”
“It’s my private gallery. My actual works are in there. Murals I later took, due to knowing that the certain countries’ police were going to paint over them.”
“You took your murals off of street blocks? I don’t understand.”
“Come inside. You’ll understand then. It’s all in my gallery.” He stepped in. “The only reason why I bought this penthouse was for the gallery on the third floor.”
“I thought this was only two stories.”
“Most people do. I keep this gallery private. No one comes on this floor. You’ll be the fifth person to walk inside. So far only my buddy Tito, my mom, Dad, and Pierre have been in here. No one else. You’ll be the fifth.”
I’ll be the fifth. Oh my God. Is this really him? Wait a minute. I’ll only be the fifth person?
Suddenly it dawned on me why I’d come up here in the first place, and that if I was only the fifth person to walk in the gallery, then Coco and Mary weren’t in there.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Something is going on. My friends said they were here.” I glared at him and stepped back.
Raising his hands, he took a step back too. “Okay. I did that, but it was only to get you up here and start all over with my introduction.”
Annoyance replaced my fascination. I edged away again. “What did you do exactly?”
“I. . .okay. Understand, I’m typically very level-headed and a somewhat play by the rule sort of guy, but I must admit with you. . .I’ve taken it to the extreme. I want to apologize.”
I scrunched up my face in confusion. “What the hell did you do?”
“I had my buddy grab your friend’s phone.” He took it out of his pocket and handed it to me. “I needed you to come up to my gallery and just see the truth of who I am.”
I shook my head. “I’m not sure you understand what truth is, or the fact that no matter why you did something stupid, the thing you did is still stupid, and creepy.”
“Well, then Wolf is a controlling bastard.”
“Where are my friends?”
“With my buddy Tito. They’re fine. Tito is a good guy.”
“Yet, he’s the one who’s a thief?”
“Look. He did it for me.”
“So he’s a mindless lackey?” I unlocked Coco’s screen, pulled up Mary’s number, and texted her.
This is Red. Are you all okay? I have Coco’s phone.
We’re on the rooftop smoking from Tito’s bong. Hurry! It’s good stuff.
On my way. Are you both okay? Seriously, is everything fine?
Uh yeah. Are U okay? You sound a bit paranoid. Maybe, you need to drink some water.
I pocketed the phone and headed back to the stairs.
“You don’t even want to see what’s in the gallery?” he called behind me.
I showed him my middle finger.
“Red, I want to paint with you.”
“Find someone else.” I approached the door. “You’ve got the money and fame. There shouldn’t be any problem.”
“But there is a problem when it comes to finding someone to spend my time with. In this city no one is real.”
“You’re right. No one is real, including the guy in this hallway.” I pointed at him. “You want to paint and spend time with me? Come up and approach me like a normal man. That’s how you talk to me.”
“I’ve seen guys do exactly that. I’ve watched many men come up to you. It doesn’t work. You brush them away. Most of the time you ignore them. Your eyes are always covered with sunglasses. Your ears plugged in with music and your mind off in your art.”
I let go of the doorknob and glanced over my shoulder. “What do you mean you’ve seen guys approach me? When?”
“You’ve seen me in Wynwood?”
“I’ve watched you work.”
“You stalked me?”
“I wouldn’t say stalk.”
“It sounds like stalk.”
“I watched you work in a public area.”
“Still sounds like stalking.”
He shrugged. “I’m a wolf. We stalk.”
“Let me mentor you.”
“No. And we’re talking about you stalking me right now.”
“I already apologized for that.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Then, I’m sorry.”
“Fuck your sorry.”
“Fine. Fuck my sorry. Now let’s talk business.”
“Maybe,” he said. “But I get it. There’s no chance of anything more than a platonic situation with you due to my actions. Is that clear?”
“Clear with a capital fucking C.”
“Then let me mentor you.”
I opened my mouth in shock.
“Let me show you the business side of graffiti. I can introduce you to powerful people, help your brand, and fund what you need. You’re talented. You are the very essence of street art. That’s what made me crazy. It was those images all over cracked bricks that fucked up my head. I haven’t been able to think straight since I viewed your stuff. Can I mentor you?”
“No. I. . .I don’t trust you.”
“Do you remember the first artist you fell in love with?”
“Who was it?” he asked.
I bit my lip, not willing to let him know that it was him.
“Well, the first artist I fell in love with was Salvador Dali. Could you imagine? Seeing your first Dali painting as a kid? Double images—faces inside of faces that peer out into a desolate world of melting objects that drip color onto sand. I was obsessed with him. I read every book on him, saw his film short, and gobbled up anything that had his name on it. If he’d been alive at the time, who knows what I would’ve done to just be in his space.”
To watch Wolf talk about Dali was amazing. Excitement burst from his eyes. Passion lingered in his fingertips as he waved them around, forming invisible images in the air in front of him.
“I want to mentor you.” He pointed at me. “You, Red, are now my second love when it comes to art. Although many paintings and murals have captured my heart and made me act like a fan freak, your works have incited me with mania.”
“Think about it.”
“I don’t know.”
“Just think about it. I could be an amazing mentor.
I studied him. “How many times have you used the I-want-to-be-your-mentor line on some unsuspecting female artist?”
“I’ve never used that line. You’re in a small group of people who even know who I am. I’m at your mercy. I’ve confessed to you about all the things I’ve done tonight and in the past.”
“You didn’t confess anything.”
“I admitted to following you.”
“Stalking me,” I corrected.
“No, it’s not fine.” I completely faced him, ready to punch him in his jaw. He was lucky there were several feet between them.
He must’ve been feeling brave because he came closer. “I did everything tonight to get a way to talk to you. This whole party was to get you here. It’s fair to say that I would’ve had a 420 party regardless, but not to this magnitude. I would’ve just invited a few friends. But to get you here, I needed to make it a big event for stoners, something that would draw you out of your private world.”
“You sent the invitation?”
“And I asked you to do the mural on the roof to get some time alone with you.” He closed the distance some more, standing right in front of me. His lush scent filled the air around me. Only three feet existed between us.
You sure you want to get this close? I’m in punching range.
I curled my fingers into a fist. “And you grabbed Coco’s phone to get me up here too. What I want to know is what do you want from me? Is it really that hard to get laid these days?”