I took the pills. Like everyone else, I took the pills and I sent in the hair and the piss to prove I took the pills. I’d figured something out, though: I could stop taking the pills for the first half of the month, then double up at the end. I still passed the tests; no one knocked on the door.
Thus, for twelve weeks a year, I spent whole evenings in the crawlspace. I cracked open the cache of brushes and watercolors under the light of a single incandescent bulb. I let the shapes and hues out to play, each season informing the work. Winter’s frigid breath demanded sharp lines and angles, while the steam bath of early August suggested lazier curves and smears.
When the knock finally came—more of a bang really, with the door splintered and wrecked—they found fifty canvases under the house. An audit had been prompted by a neighbor’s tip.
The institution at which they dumped me was clean and well-lit. The pills stopped: Painting was encouraged—sales kept the place open, nicely funded by the rich and the dull.