© 2004 Jesse Combs
7.25" x 17.5" - Pen & Ink on Paper
This one still hurts when I look at it. People in life go through various trials. When I was younger, the universe had me on a path to become residentially impaired because of my pride and pig-headedness (ah, the things we do when we're young.) In the beginning of my state of homelessness, I, being from the suburbs, had my eyes jolten wide open. Within eight months I started to get by, finding the "ins" and "outs" of Los Angeles, meeting insanity head-on at every waking hour. Literally.
One day, near dinner time at The Way In, a Salvation Army drop in Teen Center that feed & clothed the homeless kids of Hollywood, this small 12-year old girl introduced herself as Shauna. With friends maybe a dime-a-dozen, moreso when you live in a world of human piranha, finding a young one you think you can shelter does put a messed up kink in your head. Being in that lifestyle for three years endeared me to her. She was like a sister. I did everything in my power to ensure her safety, by any means - no matter what the cost. But with living nightmares wearing me down, I grew up and wanted to improve and better my life. She decided to stay in that lifestyle.
Five years pass and news of her comings and goings in & out of rehab, half-way housing and running from bad people town after town seemed to carry on the wind with ease to my ears. My heart was heavy but you can't save someone who doesn't want it. Then Shauna decided that she was finally sick of her life and settled down, got sober and heald a steady job at 19. I was proud from a distance. At 20, living in Downtoan L.A., she went into a hole-in-the-wall food mart at an odd hour in the evening and took 4 bullets in the chest from a freaked-out meth head robbing the store. When I found out, I bought a fifth of Johnny Walker, locked myself in my room, threw on the most aggressive music I could find and, while drinking the entire bottle, picked up a pen and cried.
This piece is a continuous line drawing that has small words pleading for her return and how much I loved her as well as her departure being anything but fair. The flower
is a flaming daisy; Shauna was always giving them to me because she knew they were my favorite flowers. The flames are an eternal memorial symbol and the slash across the wrist symbolizes her being torn away from this life. At this point, I have polished off the scotch and smashed the bottle against the far corner of my room. After a while I figured I should go and clean up the debris; in the process, I sliced my thumb open. But instead of going to wash up and put a Band-Aid on, I thought it best to finish the picture with garnishing it with my HAZMAT. And that's why it looks like blood.