Saturday, August 24, 2013


“Wow, that’s awesome.”

“Dude was a genius.”

“Yeah, he was,” said Mystik. “A genius and a prophet.”

They were looking up at a huge mural that covered the side of an abandoned soda bottling plant on the east side of town. The mural was a wild riot of color, a giant psychedelic cartoon masterpiece that depicted angels and demons at war. It was titled “Heaven and Hell” and signed Roach.

Mystik had brought Jag and Zoop here because they were new in town and had not seen the mural. It was Roach’s last surviving work, but it would not survive much longer. The building was marked for demolition.

“So you knew him,” said Zoop.

“Yeah, he was my best friend. For four years. We went through a lot together. And I was there when he died. I saw the whole thing.”

“What happened?”

“He was tagging a KFC that had been shut down. Five pigs showed up. I was the lookout. I told him to run, but he took an extra minute to finish one last little detail. That’s how Roach was, a perfectionist. Nothing else mattered to him but getting it right. I was behind a dumpster watching. I kept saying hurry up Roach, hurry up man. But by the time he finally dropped the can, the pigs were almost on him. They chased him. Went all the way up Industrial. I ran after them. They cornered him behind the Wal-Mart and one of the pigs Tased him. Right in the chest. Then another one Tased him. They were all laughing and Tasing him. It was awful. They kept Tasing him. Then when he wasn’t moving anymore they stopped and started high-fiving each other and laughing. And one of them said how funny it looked when Roach’s butt clenched up while they were Tasing him.”

“Fucking pigs,” said Jag.

“What happened to the pigs?” asked Zoop. “They didn’t get away with it, did they?”

“Nothing happened to them. I told the media, man—I told Channel 22, told the newspaper, told everyone about the high-fiving and everything. And nobody believed me.”


“But if I’d got it on video it might have been different. Then the world would know the truth.”

“So that’s why you always carry the camera.”


“We got to start killing the pigs,” said Jag.

“No,” said Mystik. “Roach didn’t believe in violence. He believed you could change the world with art.”

“Yeah, and look what it got him.”

Mystik shook his head. “Roach still lives. I see him in my dreams. I see him painting. He’s painting in Heaven now, and what he paints up there happens down here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean what he paints comes true. Fukushima, he painted that before it happened. And Sandy Hook and the Boston bombing, and a bunch of other things. Terrible things. Listen dude, I’m afraid to look at the things he shows me, but I have to. They’re warnings. One time he painted a picture of me on my skateboard getting hit by a bus. Next morning I knew I was gonna’ have to be extra careful. And sure enough, I was flying down the street and something about the street looked familiar and I remembered this was the street Roach painted in the dream. So I slowed down and stopped before I came to the corner—at the very moment a city bus ran a red light, man. I would've been killed.”


“Yeah, Roach warns me about things. But sometimes he just paints beautiful things. I can’t even describe them, they’re so beautiful. They’re better than anything he ever painted on Earth, better than this mural, no shit. I wish I could paint the things he shows me, but I’m not good enough. That’s why I don’t paint anymore. The camera’s my medium now. Roach said that in a dream one time. He said keep that camera with you always.”

(To be continued)