It appeared overnight, a purple noxious bloom plastered across my fence.
My wife came running out the house.
“Look what they’ve done!” I bellowed.
She put her hand over her mouth. “No. Not in our neighbourhood.”
We prided ourselves in our neat verges, trimmed gardens and pristine homes. I wiped a finger across the paint. “It’s dry. Must have been done hours ago.”
“Are you going to call the police?”
“You bet I am.”
The officers arrived a few hours later. Graffiti obviously wasn’t the most pressing concern of their morning. “There’s not much we can do, sir. We’ll photograph the tag and add it to our files but these artists are elusive.”
I photographed it myself before smothering it with grey primer and later with rich cream paint. That evening, I brought it up on my computer screen. “Look at it, Suzanne. He’s used a dozen shades of purple – there’s amethyst, lilac, lavender, mauve, plum ...”
“You spend far too much time gazing at colours.”
“You’re just jealous that I work with what I love.” We bantered like this all the time. Owning a printing business was great and greeting cards were my favourite project.
“And look here.” I’d never paid much attention to graffiti but I could see a word twisted into those blocky letters with their roughly blended hues. “V-I-O-L-E-T.” I spelled out. “We have a talented graffiti artist with a passion for purple.”
Over the next few weeks I noticed the same purple tag on walls, on crumbling warehouses and alongside train tracks. It sprawled like a noxious urban bloom but its unique shading set it apart. My anger subsided and curiosity led me to Google. “Did you know that Graffiti dates back to ancient Greece?” I questioned Suzanne. “And that it’s derived from the Italian word, graffiato, which means scratched.” I even photographed the tags and played around with them on the computer.
It was two months later that I awoke with a start. “Suzanne.” I whispered. “Can you hear that?”
She grunted. A dog howled down the street but I could hear the soft hiss of an aerosol can. What audacity. Without thinking it through, I slipped out the back door and over the neighbour’s fence. Night drained the street of colour and the figure by my fence blended with dark shadows. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed him from behind. “Don’t move!”
As the words came out, I realised he was a she. Her body was soft and curved and the scream that shattered my ears was definitely feminine.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I shouted, as I pulled her towards the house. By now Suzanne was up and warm squares of light fell from the front door.
“Should I call the police?”
I got the spitfire through the door, yelling and screaming.
“It’s a girl.” Suzanne stepped forward, surprised. “Don’t be so rough, Harry.”
I dropped my arms and the screaming funnelled into a sob.
“Are you alright, Sweetie.”
The girl nodded then shook her head. “He gave me a fright.” she said gesturing towards me.
“You were spraying my fence.” I shouted, getting a good look at her. She had short dark hair gelled into purple tips and studs through her nose and eyebrow.
“Calm down, Harry.”
“I’ll calm down when I get some answers!”
“I can explain.” The girl’s voice was ragged with fear.
“Tell us what’s going on.” Suzanne encouraged.
“My mom died a few months ago.” A sob came out like a hiccup. “She loved purple so much. She wore purple jewellery and make up and decorated the house in purple. Her bed covers were lilac and the cushions on the couch were lavender. The lamp shades were plum and the table cloths, mauve.”
A purple vision filled my eyes; a picture of a woman who loved colour and celebrated it in style. “But why the graffiti?” I asked.
“We couldn’t afford a headstone and she had all these spray cans in the garage. I thought I could use them to create a lasting memorial for her.”
Anger dissipated like air leaking from a balloon. “Was her name Violet?”
My mind filled with purple again, with the images saved on my computer. I sank into a chair as thoughts knitted and grew. “I have an idea.” I said slowly. “How would you like to create a range of greeting cards to honour your mom instead?”
Her smile was all the answer I needed.
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