Tomas. First-gen Puerto Rican kid I met in West Chester, PA, and I was his art teacher, and he could draw like an old master when he was ten.

TylerArt6He and his friends showed up at our third-floor walk-up early mornings before school. I’d answer the knock—a toothbrush in my mouth. Tomas, the leader, would say, “We just like to watch you, Mr. Brennan.” They’d line up on the couch, the five of them.

I’d asked if I could draw him, he said okay, and I did—him sitting in the alley behind his house. I went home and painted a narrative portrait. When he saw it he asked, “Can I take it? Show my family?”

“Okay, but I want it back.”

“For sure.”

I never saw it again, and that’s okay.

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