Walls 87 Comments

mud wall

“Just do your thing, man. It’s all yours,” he bellowed, dramatically gesticulating towards one empty white wall of his new condo’s dining room. It wasn’t furnished, yet. In fact, the place looked like it needed a lot of work. The wall-to-wall carpeting spanned the living and dining rooms, decorated with insolent stains and holes. The bedroom and bathroom to the side seemed limp, like paralyzed limbs dangling from their sockets.

I am still uneasy in my pretense. I am supposed to be an artist. Or some sort of person versed in visual creativity. It seems my visual creativity for most of my life may have consisted mostly of imagining the circumference of a random woman’s areola. Of course, that has its merits, too. Just not for a friend’s dining room mural.

Northeast DC is still foreign territory to me. I am not familiar with much of it at all, and I had no idea where we were. No clue about the nearest metro, bus-stop, or even 7-Eleven. I might as well have been washed ashore a random island.

How do I get out of this? What do I get out of this? Is this guy really serious about this “mural”? What if this conversation goes to where I’m afraid it might go to and I end up a corpse, sprawled on the insolent carpet of a random rundown condo in a part of DC that even cops don’t stop in if they have a flat tire?

“So I can do whatever I want?”

“Pretty much … just keep in mind it’s the dining room.” He chuckles, assuming that I may ejaculate something violent and disturbing all over his wall that might have his guests involuntarily ejecting their food out of their bellies in unison.

That would be quite unsavory.

The apartment needed some work. Well, a lot, frankly. Whoever had lived here prior to my friend’s purchase clearly had a handicapped understanding of cleanliness. The carpet was spotted with burn holes, stains, rips. The walls could use re-plastering and painting, while the bathroom and kitchen tiles looked decrepit, worn from years of shod abuse and careless spills.

Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile investment. And spacious, too. I stared blankly at the white wall that is to be the dining section. There is nothing more intimidating than emptiness. Its seemingly unthreatening blankness screams defeaning silence, its semblance of purity echoes sentiments of fascist uniformity.

I balk at my task at hand. This is really pretentious. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Staring at white walls, lost in thoughts of my own insecurities and superficialities while pretending to come up with something that’s visually enticing?


What seemed like an eternity ticks by. I blink at the wall. It stares back at me. Deadpan. Why the hell doesn’t it flinch? Should it not be petrified about having its pristine whiteness assaulted and stained into submission?

Apparently not.

One fat blunt and a few Pink Floyd songs later, I’m still staring at the endless wall, petrified of even dotting a far corner with a soft-tip pencil. What the fuck am I supposed to do?

Then I see him walk up next to me with a lug wrench that looked like it had two anvils for lunch. I knew this was going to happen. He is going to bludgeon my head in until I hurl my euphoric little brain out of my now trembling nostrils …


… simply because I’m dating the same girl that he still regrets ending things with.

But it hadn’t even felt like it was dating. Not dating dating. At that point, it was something without a label, for fear of making it an … well, an “it” … lest it should cease to be alive.

I could see the lug wrench from the corner of my eye, as he stands next to me, staring along at the white wall. Pink Floyd had just wrapped up “Any Color You Like” and moved on to “Brain Damage.”

Touche!, I say under my breath

“Hm? You said something?” He turns his slightly bloodshot eyes towards me.

“Oh no, nothing … was just talking to my dog,” I mutter back, quickly regretting my brain fart.

“Oh-kay then, dude. You ok?”

“Yeah, absolutely.” I clear my throat and look down at the lug wrench.

The lug wrench slowly stood up, and went about flexing its muscles, showing off every little inch of wrought iron into a steroided-out killing machine.

Snapoutofitsnapoutofitsnapoutofit! It’s just the weed, I tell myself.

I grab a piece of charcoal, and proceed to approach the white wall, like a SWAT team about to raid Pablo Escobar’s estate.

He chuckles, and walks away. I could hear him, hammering away at something in the kitchen. I sigh in relief, hoping that my skull and imagination stay intact through all this.

I draw the first circle on the wall. Then another next to it. In less than an hour, I manage to fill up most of the wall space with circles of different sizes. Some conentric, some adjacent … others rabid, rampantly dotting what seems like a geometric study of multiple women’s aereola.

Or maybe it was just hers. Or maybe it’s a drug-induced profound insight into the circular nature of life … but probably not.

I simply like circles. An irrational shape that is the ultimate outcome of adding an infinite number of points to a rational shape: sharp edges slowly birthing smooth, dizzying curves.

On the train ride back home, I wonder what the wall would look like once I finish my irrational doodles.

A few months later, he sold the place, my doodles incomplete.

Maybe the next owner/tenant can figure out what to do with a whole wall of charcoal circles.

87 Responses to “Walls”

  1. 1 emebet

    you’re quite brave going to the dudes house…alone…unarmed. i guess you could have chalked/circled him to death

  2. 2 Nolawi

    Haha aha ha hah hahah besak

    it seems you were paranoid… seriously if he broke up with her why would he care?

    btw, great great post, very poetic…

  3. 3 S

    It seems my visual creativity for most of my life may have consisted mostly of imagining the circumference of a random woman’s areola.

    what a quotable!

  4. 4 Ephrem

    Hey I know the feeling. Standing at an empty space scratching the heck out of your brains. Sometimes not even a drip comes out!!

    Toothpick! I have two beautiful thick square canvases right by my eye, and we have been staring each other for quite some time, so the other day Solomon and Mathewos (local artists) came by and suggested to do a painting marathon at Blen. If you would like to join us, it will be something.

    oh yah yal are welcome too, a group painting marathon. Bring your own easle, canvas and tubes….and brushes too…

    great read.


  5. 5 toothpick

    I’m up for it, Ephrem. As long as y’all promise not to laugh and giggle at my silly circles and doodles :) Let me know when and I’ll definitely try to make it.

  6. 6 nyalasmoke

    wow toothpick! hahah hahah why does this story sounds so familiar :) hahaha

  7. 7 Ephrem

    toothpick….will let you know on the dates…

  8. 8 toothpick

    cuz it’s true, smokey, that’s why … and you may have heard some version of it :)

  9. 9 Grand Ma

    Paranoia at it best! Between you & Bernos bloggers, were you puffing some goodies? There’s a finger print evidence on it.I like the wall picture that reminds me the house i grew up. I think the wall picture is more intersting than your story (i may add your name). Given my age, please disregard my comment.

  10. 10 kiki

    Circles!!! TP now I get why you like them so. I love reading you stuff. Keep ‘em coming.

  11. 11 injera

    Great read TP. Reminded me of that must have being a conflicted world war II American soldier who wrote “I WAS HERE’ all over the battle fronts of the Pacific. TP was here is the title of the story the next owner/tenent will read…

  12. 12 masinkomelody

    The bedroom and bathroom to the side seemed limp, like paralyzed limbs dangling from their sockets.

    I may ejaculate something violent and disturbing all over his wall

    Its semblance of purity echoes sentiments of fascist uniformity.

    Should it not be petrified about having its pristine whiteness assaulted and stained into submission?

    Absolutely love your play on words!!

  13. 13 zgent

    Great read indeed. First the stains and now the blank white wall with a semblance of purity. Ekule lelit alfual derasiw Sirak afTual….yemilew ye Bealu Girma “Derasiw” taweseN, only this one was not an artists m’T. Love the way you write.

  14. 14 nyalasmoke

    yes indeed toothpick… it brings back lots of memories and u know what I really hope that there are many more chapters to follow or precede this one. great work bro!

  15. 15 wudnesh

    oof, I wish you had a few more paragraphs!! I was following every word you muttered.

  16. 16 Sky

    Great piece TP, I wish it was longer though.

  17. 17 Kebebush

    beautiful piece TP

  18. 18 .mike

    i checked the dictionary and all words you used are in it. i have no clue how one can be so creative to beautifully lay ‘em out!

    damn, Robel. that was a refreshingly a great piece

  19. 19 winta

    Now ,that is what I call a good read ,I llllllllovvvvvvvveeee your Expressions .

    Belive me I know when I see a good one. Ever thought of working on sth bigger …like a book?. It would be Mega Super !!!

  20. 20 dabobshye

    i loved this article…it brought me to tears.

  21. 21 dabobshye


  22. 22 condo owner

    …I picked up the heavy lug wrench from the kitchen floor and started to proceed toward the dining room….Hahahahahahahahaha

    Wait til my version comes

  23. 23 chebrarawa

    I like, I like!

    Or maybe it was just hers. Or maybe it’s a drug-induced profound insight into the circular nature of life … but probably not.


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