Thursday, January 10, 2008

Günter and Paul in Clichy

A break in the gray skies over the gray stones of Montmartre illuminates Sacre Coeur, which shines like a beacon above the snail shaped map of Paris.

Two men walking on the Rue Lepic look up at the beacon. The short, stout one, with a massive black mustache, makes the sign of the cross, while the tall, handsome one, pulls deeply on his cigarette, a Gauloise. They continue down the street, searching for a clean well lit café where they can share an espresso, a cigarette, and a chat about modern German poetry.

They stop in front of a café that the short stout man sniffs. He enters and walks about smelling the kitchen door, the entrance to the toilette, and the bar. He looks under the tables and runs a fat finger along the edge of the window sill. He grunts his acceptance and takes a booth near the window.

A waiter with a vulpine face, arrives with a huff, and frowns when he hears the German accented French of the stout one. He turns to the other who speaks perfect French, showing his disdain for the boche. The stout one ignores the man’s rudeness; he has accepted the French’s hatred of the Germans. Instead, he pulls a small moleskin sketchbook from his pocket of his tweed jacket and a pelican pen and quickly sketches the man’s fox like face with a few clear lines.

The other, the handsome one, extracts a thick wad of folded papers from the inside pocket of his jacket and places them on the table. They order espressos and a carafe of water and place their cigarettes on the table. The stout one pushes his drawing aside and reaches into his left pocket and produces another moleskin notebook. This one is lined and full of scribbles.

The waiter places the coffees in front of them with a bill, which they both ignore. They intend to order another later. The handsome one with the sad dark eyes begins to read in German, while the stout one watches a woman bend over in the doorway of shop across the way to pour some milk into a saucer for a sick kitten mewing on the sidewalk.

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