I'm about to tell you a story as best as I can remember it from many years ago back when I visited my Grandma in Oregon. Now keep in mind I was just a kid back then and things seem so much bigger and mysterious. But nevertheless it's something that should be told because childhood memories are fickle things and can grow more elaborate with time...
During my travels through the countryside of Oregon I stumbled upon a small open market in an equally small and unremarkeble town whose name escapes me at the moment. There were all sorts of merchants and craftsmen there doing their best to pitch their wares to the townsfolk. Cries of 'incredible exilirs' and 'rejuvenating cream' rang out through the market aisle while customers ooh'd and ahhh'd at all the products. None of this impressed me, yet something did catch my eye. Sitting in a nearly empty booth sat an old man with only one good eye. He was feverishly painting a picture and tho his hands shook with age the strokes came out masterfully. Colors and highlights graced the canvas as easily would a seasoned boatman tie down his mooring line. Those old hands held a remarkably strange brush and with all the colors in his palette I could see no other painting instruments.
Entranced I stood there watching as the painting unfolded before my eyes, that is until I realized the old man had stopped painting and was staring at me with his singular emerald ocular. "I aint got nothing you want. Go finds yerself some lass to fancy or some eats to fill your stomach, boy." His words jolted my gaze from the painting and I politely asked if I could just watch, that I was just beginning to dabble into painting myself and was intrigued. A shrug of his aged shoulders weighed in and he nodded. I also inquired about what he was selling, he obviously had a booth set up but I could see no goods, save for the painting he was working on. "They'll be here boy. They always come. I can't stop, no I can't 'til my work is done. Days be goin' by like seconds an' there aint time enough in the world...not for this brush. Not 'til it's taken its last stroke."
An hour passed perhaps as I chatted with this grizzled fellow until I saw him lay the last stroke down upon the canvas. He sat back letting out a withered sigh and no sooner as he had taken that moments of rest a happy couple walked up to the booth. The woman took one look at the painting and cried out, "Oh look it's perfect! Honey, that's exactly what I was looking for to go in the front room! Can you believe it? The colors match perfectly! Oh can we buy it?" The young husband of course agreed and the old man stood up to exchange monies. He packaged up the painting for them and the young couple went happily on their way. I could see the old man watching them leave with a sad eye, just standing there staring off down the market path.
A few minutes of silence passed and the old man turned to me, full well knowing I had questions. Before I could speak he said, "I'm tired, old and tired. Time's gave me an overlookin and I aint done nothing to make myself noticed. No family, no lass to hold me close. I'd always been paintin'...with this here brush." He held it up, his strange paint brush that looked like it was made of some sort of gray bone-like material. It was old, I was sure of that. A single green gem was affixed in the center of the handle where it rested between the index finger and thumb, the sparkle within it moving to follow the light like an eye. The material of the handle was twisted and gnarled as if had been grown, not carved. The bristles looked soft and brand new, like the fur of a deer's fresh summer coat.
"You take it... here boy, you take it. Take Yabmec's brush and you paint away." the old man said as he thrust the paint brush into my hands. "Aint no charge neither. It's taken its last second from me. An' you listen here, ol' Yabmec is a foul one so don't you be a mentioning his name now, not round here. Sum' people say his mind was so peppered with fools business he turned into a troll. I got this brush from 'im years ago but I can see now he tricked me, and now I can't see keepin' it no longer." With that the old man packed up his wooden stool, paints, and easel, leaving me with the brush. He turned and gave me one last look with his one, good, green eye and said, "I had an eye for these things... an' now you have my eye for em' too." Nodding, I waved goodbye and watched as he hobbled his way out of the market.
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