Excerpts from Summer 1959 Edition
A few of the "regulars" were playing cards near the door, but most of the people were visitors looking around to see all the strange people that were supposed to be in cellar coffee houses.
"Can I laugh anymore? Why should I laugh? I have no reason to laugh. I can't even remember how to laugh." Langhorne opened his mouth in an attempt to laugh, but a bitter grumble resulted. "My teeth get in the way," he mumbled.
Nobody ever bothered Langhorne. They knew he was an independent. He didn't care about anybody.
The door opened and a girl with straight brown hair came in and looked around for a table. Langhorne looked up. "Oh, no!" that looks like one of my foolish little students," he thought.
The girl moved within the ray of light given off by the single pink bulb hanging from the ceiling. "Good Lord, it's Linka Siffling — not only foolish but a miserable artist."
Linka saw Langhorne in the corner and hurried to the burly little bearded man's table. "Mr. Fork," she said brightly, "it's so nice to see you." She dragged up an empty chair and said, "Do you mind if I sit here, Mr. Fork?"
"Yes, I do," Langhorne grumbled.
Linka laughed -- a youthful, happy, open laugh. "Well, how am I doing at the school, Mr. Fork? Will I ever be an artist?"
"You're my worst student, Siffling," said Langhorne.
Linka laughed again and sat back in her chair.
The waitress brought Langhorne's coffee, and Linka asked Langhorne what it was. Langhorne sneered at her and said, "It's not for girls; it's only for fat old men."
Linka laughed quickly and asked the waitress for some of the same.
Langhorne turned to his book with a grunt and a sneer. Linka sat there quietly for a minute, and then she pulled from her pocket book a small board with red pegs in it. She didn't look at Langhorne but just proceeded to move the pegs around in a complex one-man game. Langhorne peared over the pages of Plato and seeing that Linka wasn't looking at him, he secretly watched the moving red pegs as he tried to detect the plot that made the game. The waitress brought Linka's "espresso" and left. Linka kept playing and Langhorne continued to watch secretly. Suddenly Linka looked up and said, "Do you want to try it, Mr. Fork?"
Langhorne fumbled around a second and said, "I'm trying to read, Siffling. Do I want to try what?"
"Mr. Fork, you haven't turned a page in five minutes."
"Well, what do you expect with all the confusion you're making? Here, give it to me," he said begrudingly.
Langhorne put his book down and began to move the pegs around. By his "secret" observation he knew exactly how to do it. Linka smiled and sipped the tar-like "espresso."
"Well," said Linka some time later, "I'd better be going. You can borrow the game if you want."
"No, no! Take your foolish game."
"You keep it," said Linka, laughing, "and I'll pick it up tomorrow night. Save me a seat." And she smiled and paid her bill and went out the door.
Langhorne Fork had a warm feeling inside as he scowled and threw the game to the side of the table. He picked up Plato and began to read. But he stopped reading and curled up his mouth and laughed an open happy laugh.