Berggasse 19 by FC Malby

The sharp, intelligent face of a man sits behind a desk; one arm supporting a chiseled white beard, the other placed carefully on his right knee – posed almost, ready for a photograph or a client. The beard frames a long, quizzical face and thick curtain eyelids conceal dark pearls behind a veil of round glasses – circular, unbroken. Bicycle wheels in duplicate.

My eyes are drawn to the camel on the glass cabinet, through the chink in the door to the study. The rooms imitate a North African souk. Row upon row of artifacts line the dark wood shelves – clay jars, Egyptian mummies waiting for the afterlife, head carvings watching the arrival and departure of individuals from the mezzanine floor of Berggasse 19, volumes of academic treasure decorate the shelves, and there is a smattering of monochrome prints and portraits. From Italy, he says.

'Herr Schwarzer?' His voice is lyrical, hypnotic, rising and falling with the gentle arch and swell of a wave.

'Das bin ich,' I say. This is me in all my colours. Dark, mainly.

He looks quizzical, eyebrows curling and writhing as worms unearthed from underground tunnels. The light catches the glass within the bicycle wheels, shimmering with the glint of glacial ice, distorting his face. I should feel anxious, but I am too intrigued – intrigued by the man and his methods.

His arm rises from his slender frame momentarily, summoning me to the couch. Persian rugs sprawl across its surface inviting me to rest and speak. I speak of the unconscious mind, of thoughts buried deep within the synapses. He is influenced by Shakespeare, they say, and Darwin. I understand them now. My lips speak of fears, of dreams, and of guilt. His response is silence. Moments vanish with a whisper of an understanding.

I rise and turn towards him. 'Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Professor.' I pass the plaque on the wall which reads, Prof. Dr. Freud 3-4, and glide down the stone stairs, my hand following the curl of the wooden bannisters, and wonder who graces these stairs for a slice of a moment with a man with a chiseled white beard and bicycle wheel glasses.

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