A man watches me as I alternate between eating my pastry, sipping my tea, and drawing this cover. I’m not using one, but two pens to draw. I’m not using one, but two hands to draw. “You’re an artist, huh?” he asks me. Yeah, I respond. I like to draw. He returns to his book. I to my work. He puts his book down again. “How are you doing that with two hands?”
I push my small plate away. I set my tea aside. I grab a piece of paper. I draw him. He’s surprised, of course. He asks questions, of course. I answer them, while I finish his picture.
Then it’s back to my gift. My friend’s birthday is today. I finish the book jacket, and take another sip. I think through what to write inside. I write a few words. I cross them out. I write a few more. The man now has company.
He’s a big man with a beard. I recognize neither his smell nor his accent. The first man tells the one with the beard: “this guy next to you, he draws with two hands! Look, he drew me!” The bearded man now asks me questions. I pull out another sheet, and draw his picture. When it’s finished, I plan to return to writing.
“Amazing,” the bearded man says, holding his portrait so he could see it. “You know,” he begins. “I collect rare pictures.” The first man joins in: “tell him about your Merkel picture!” The big bearded man is happy to be asked. “You won’t believe it,” he tells me, “but I have a picture of Angela Merkel from the FKK days.” Freikörperkultur is a nudist movement especially common in 1980’s East Germany. He draws back, pleased with his find. “You wouldn’t think so today, but she was quite a looker then. And,” he leans back in to me: “she was completely naked.”
I try not to laugh. I tell him that’s an interesting find. I return to my work, and complete my dedication on Lee’s novel. Finished, I stow my things. “Will you be back here again?” the bearded man asks me. Maybe. “I’ll be here. Every weekend, right in this café.”