I was conspicuously taking pictures when he appeared out of nowhere and asked if he could take mine. “Of course,” I said. His face was set in an impish grin so I wasn’t sure of his intent but I was intrigued. He gestured towards my camera. I responded, “No, with yours.” He reached into his pocket and dug out an old iPhone. He looked genuinely surprised that its battery was dead. He had been partying since the night before and now that it was tomorrow he was out on the streets making art. Time for him was ticking at a different rate.
He reached into his pocket again and this time pulled out two pieces of black chalk. “These make the colors pop,” he said and then, as a further non-sequitur, tossed them onto the pavement. Then he found a green piece in the bowels of one of his jacket pockets and said, “Watch this.”
He drew a clean, straight mark. The chalk transformed into a line of powder on the pavement: colorful, incandescent, beautiful.
Then he hunched over and started drawing hearts on the the pavement. The HeArtist was a Heartist. Most people were oblivious to this and simply walked around him, just another obstacle on their way from here to there. But some did notice, especially the vendors and transients on the corner who were irked by his intrusion into their patch of universe. A little girl passing by skipped over the hearts.
One of the corner dwellers called out to him, “Hey man, stop doing that before the police come.” With the mention of the police the Heartist pricked up his ears and a frightful look took over his face. Then he slipped into the crowd and disappeared, leaving behind his handiwork - to annoyance, astonishment, indifference, and my appreciation.
He was gone before I had a chance to ask his name.