The cardboard sign read “You’ve got the Pot, I’ve got the Pan!” I smiled when I saw it—my dad would have thought it was funny. Taking out one of my earbuds, I stepped closer to the homeless guy who sat on the low wall separating the high school’s lawn from the dirty sidewalk.
“Did you draw that?” I pointed to the cartoon frying pan that accompanied the text, handing him a dollar at the same time. A group of boys knocked me aside as they passed, hollering and laughing so loud it echoed off the school building.
“Thank you,” the man said, crumpling the bill in his palm. I strained to hear his quiet reply over the afternoon traffic rushing along Sunset Boulevard. “Yeah, I did all of these.” He indicated an array of crinkled cardboard signs covered in funny slogans and pictures. “I’m an artist.”
His white hair was cut short, his beard trimmed, his eyes hidden behind plain black sunglasses. He had a large camping backpack that leaned against the wall beside him like a faithful dog. If it hadn’t been for the signs, I might’ve mistaken him for a tourist.
“I wish I could show my dad.” I shaded my eyes against the glare of the sun. “He’d laugh his ass off.”
“Hey, well, you can,” he said. “I print T-shirts, and my buddy sells them out of his store for ten bucks a pop.” He pointed up the bustling street toward Hollywood Boulevard.
“Sure, next time I have ten bucks I’ll grab one,” I said. “Well, see you later.”
“I’m Larry,” he said, holding out his fist.
“Tyler.” I tapped his knuckles with mine, then ran to catch the city bus.
Adrien Kade Sdao earned their MFA in Creative Writing (Writing for Young People) from Antioch University Los Angeles, where they now teach through the Continuing Education program inspiration2publication. They are a reader and guest editor for Voyage, a young adult literary journal. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, K’in, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, and more. They live in North Hollywood with their cat, Shelly. Find out more at aksdao.com. Adrien recommends the NoHo Home Alliance.