In the latest chapter of “David and the Lion’s Den,” we learn some horrifying details of Hilda’s early life in Vienna. David narrates reluctantly, without divulging too much, but shows us that her story affected him deeply, and we suspect it probably influenced his art. Juxtaposed against that story, his own story begins to make more sense.
I’ve drawn Hilda mostly from real life. She was a friend of mine, and the story David tells in this chapter is the real Hilda’s story, down to almost every detail that she related to me. I’ve changed her character and her biography. The Hilda in 1980s and 90s NYC is fictional. The Hilda of 1930s Vienna is real, to the best of my memory and understanding.
The ice cream and coffee shop on the corner of Christopher and Bleecker was a Village institution for most of the 90s. I’ve displaced it in time just a little bit. It didn’t exist yet during the year this story is supposed to have taken place. The owner’s beautiful Colombian lover did not survive the HIV epidemic. The owner did, but he lost the will to run a store that required him to be a jovial host. He retired to a bitter solitude.
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