I ride this through this to get to this…
It’s late but not too late so I sit and wait for my train, the WTC from Grove St.
It’s a 10 minute wait.
An older gentleman sits down close to me on the next row of seats to my left.
I’m staring at the flat-screen-of-fluff above my head experimenting with rudimentary mental time relativity, failing.
The Weather Forecast, Local Headlines, Horoscope, Hollywood News…
“Hello,” He says.
He’s got 4 minutes to make the pitch, I smile.
“I am an artist.” He tares off the sketch of me that he had just made and hands it to me… It’s not bad.
“Do you know Pablo Picasso?”
I know of him, of course.
“Chagal, I studied with Chagal! ”
“Today is my birthday and I want to give you this treasure.”
I smile and begin to dash his efforts with a slow, gentle negative shake of my head handing the treasure back.
“No this is for you on my 77th birthday, it is very valuable and you must keep it!”
I take the drawing back. He then pulls out his 5×7 pocket portfolio and shows me his work. It’s good, ok, it’s great and he has 3 minutes before my train gets here.
I’m guessing he’s from the Czech Republic… The work is impressionistic invoking images of starry nights and lonely bridges.
The train is slightly early, I can hear it pulling into the station as the people around me begin to gravitate to the track. I roll the treasure up in a tight cone and shake his hand. He has a firm handshake and I tower over him as I get up.
Happy birthday, I say
“You are a big strong young man,” he says.
I am 50 in two weeks.
“I have a son who is 50 also, happy birthday to you!”
I step onto my train.