The Face on the Poster

He looks at the face – it’s drawn in black, a pen or a marker maybe – and clearly photocopied. The lines start off certain and fluid, but a little past where the cheekbones meet the chin, the ink begins to fade out, leaving a trail of spots and blotches. Do people go to art school, spend years attending lectures, drawing nudes, and paying exorbitant fees, just to end up with a job like this, their artwork pinned on soft-boards and taped to lampposts, he wonders. This must amount to a career of disappointments, surely. He imagines a band of suicidal artists being forced to sit across dank police stations across the country, fuelled by cups of cold tea and silent desperation, sketching criminals, putting faces where only fear exists.

He wonders what the artist was thinking while sketching this one. Was he given a low down of the crimes? Did he have a victim fill his head? Did he judge, frown in disgust at the deeds of wrong piled up, creating a monster? Or did the artist sympathise with the face being pulled out of police records, first the forehead, then the eyebrows, the thin hairline, recognizing the turbulence that fuelled the crimes. Surely the artist, stewing in cocoon of frustration, has an inkling of how quickly things can go wrong.

He notes the delicate softening around the curve of the lips; instinctively he reaches for his lips and smiles in recognition. He also recognizes the multiple dimensions in the eyes – this is a complicated man, with a complicated life, the artist tells him. He nods in agreement, pulling his cap further down, as he walks away, hiding those eyes, those spots and blemishes.

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