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Let Me Draw You a Picture

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Blood wells up in the shallow cut as Ray slices lightly along his arm with his pocket knife. The arm on which he wears his silver bracelet is unmarked; the other arm bears the marks of several self-inflicted cuts in various stages of healing. As he looks at the knife-drawn line, he has a sudden thought about that drawing class he had taken at the community college -- portrait drawing -- an attempt at taking on an activity that would help him to focus himself and calm himself. He looks at the fresh line of blood and thinks "Fuck yeah, I'm drawing this...and this helps...."

Fraser pauses in the act of shaving...after stropping the blade against the leather and then putting the razor edge against his throat, he looks at himself in the mirror and thinks "this could be my self-portrait, this image of myself holding something sharp against my own throat"...it's the image of a man who by design lives a self-endangering life. And then an abrupt after-image: Ray! Fraser sees it with the mind's eye, what Ray had drawn in that art class and had labelled "Self-Portrait" : a still-life featuring a kitchen stove topped by a pressure cooker and a knife block with one knife missing. Completing his shaving, Fraser cannot shake off a sense of something distressing involving Ray.

Ray has been bleeding himself like bleeding steam from a pressure cooker. The complexity of his feelings for Fraser overfill him. When he's working the Chicago streets, there's the injured and the dead, there's the blood of others to provide focus; at home when he's the one bleeding, there's the brief deadening calm.

Then a day soon comes when Ray's arm is grazed by a bullet while Fraser and Ray are responding to a robbery in progress...and Fraser is too quick to be stopped when he pushes up the long sleeve of Ray's shirt to assess the injury...and Fraser sees the lines of injury not caused by the bullet. In that moment he recalls Ray's drawing and he thinks "it may be the wrong time for advice, but it's never the wrong time for concern"...so he staunches Ray's flesh wound...and then he runs his fingers lightly over the other lines and softly says "Oh Ray...what would you say that it's not, your having hidden this from me?"

Ray had tensed at the moment that Fraser saw the knife-drawn lines, but now he relaxes slightly at Fraser's soft tone and light touch, and then Fraser continues with "Ray...Ray...wouldn't you say 'that's not buddies'...and will you tell me what a buddy is to do now...."

Fraser's expression just then is so unguarded and Ray sees in it something so like what he has been seeing in his own mirror that he does tell Fraser all about what was hidden. "Yeah, Frase. Out from hiding, so let me draw you a picture...."

Not long after that, Ray is drawing portraits of two male nudes together, drawn from real life.