Tanya has been ordered by her boss to write an article to attract investors to an underground arts community, and she’s discussing it with two of the community’s founders.
“You’re right,” I said. “You’ll read about it soon enough. You know the old cotton gin?”
“Yeah, down there on Indiana,” Rodney said. “What about it?”
“Cassia wants to turn it into an art studio with upstairs lofts.”
“That’s f****** cool,” Nick said. “How’s she going to do it?”
“She’s not. She wants me to write an article to gain interest from investors, and since Darren jacks off to her pictures, he’ll make me do anything she wants.”
Rodney looked off and hid his mouth behind his fist. While he sat there poised in thought, Nick lit up a joint.
“I told you, man. Not in here.” Rodney rose from his seat, pointing a finger at Nick.
Nick crushed the fire and then slipped the joint into his shirt pocket.
Rodney sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know. I mean it sounds like a good idea. Hell, I’d buy it if I could because I don’t want those investors coming in here messing with what we’ve built here. I get it. Artists need their space. You know I’ll do anything I can. But what if the wrong person sees your article? What then?”
“Didn’t you say that the people who need to read my articles will?” I asked.
“Yeah, but you know. Investors are already coming in and buying up these old buildings, turning them into expensive lofts and yuppie bars. They call this Deep Ellum, but it ain’t deep. This is Shallow Ellum. Once they turn this into a f*****’ carnival, the artists will leave, and then what? Once the fad’s over, the carnival will fold up. It’ll be a ghost town again, just like it was after the Jazz and Blues days.” He shook his head. “Man, it’s over. It’s Shallow Ellum.”
“Deep Ellum always comes back. It’s like a phoenix. It will rise from the ashes.” As Nick said this, he rose from his seat and waved his hands in the air.
“What are you two talking about?” I said. “This neighborhood’s not dead, and it’s not dying. Maybe Cassia’s right. Maybe we need that commune and studio.”
“I don’t know,” Rodney said. “I’m not a prophet, but I can tell you that if the bankers and investors buy up Shallow Ellum, it’s going to die. But go ahead and write that article. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll save it. Maybe you’ll kill it. Maybe nothing.”