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"Frank"
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Copyright ©1998

But; although I flew into uncharted skies, there remained a part of me which still delighted in sketching pencil portraits of my friends.

Frank and I met in a strange manner. Each night, Christine and I would walk about three miles to the subway stop.

It being 11:00 at night, the walk from her house to the station was always a scary one. However, since we did this so often, eventually, the tough corner bullies learned that I was escourting Chris, and they approved of that so they'd leave me be. Once back at the subway, I'd enter more coins, then catch the West-bound train.

The ticket-taker saw me do this for months. One night, I didn't have enough change; but with a flex of his facial muscles, he waved me through. It being a very nippy night, he invited me in to the booth to chat; and, that's how the ritual began. Each night I'd tap on his window and he'd smile his sheepish grin and wave me in. Our talks both relieved his boredom and expanded the bounds of my life. We'd talk until we'd hear the nerve-wracking squeal that signified the last train's arrival. Frank would shout out to the conductor, "Wait up!" while I gathered up my things.

The position as ticket-taker was only his night trade, in the daytime Frank was a brick layer who had worked on a major building in the city. He had two kids and a great sense of humor. I still remember that wry smile, nearly shy in his brusque Italian way.