Snakes Sex on a plane train, Part I
I stood on the edge of the platform and breathed in the cool, midnight air while trying to decypher the contents of the train ticket I held in my hand. There was German printed all over it, no doubt telling me exactly where I needed to go and what I needed to do while I shrugged my shoulders and pleaded at it with puppy-dog eyes, trying to tell it that I couldnt' speak its language.
For a moment I was overcome with anxiety. I had never taken one of these night trains before. What if there was some sort of unspoken etiquette that I was supposed to follow? In German, no less? If I were a cooler, more confident person I would just stroll in, find my place and plunk myself down, using my hat to cover my face while spouting out one-liners in a gritty voice to anyone who would talk to me, like something out of a Kurosawa movie.
Only I'm not a cooler, more confident person. I'm a nervous guy in a bright green T-shirt, standing in the middle of a train station in Das Bumfücken, Germany, with a small suitcase full of dirty clothes and no idea what to do in the face of the unexpected.
I was going to learn, though. Very quickly.
A rust-colored wreck of a train quickly pulled into the platform in front of me and screeched to a halt, and the sound of the aging wheels grinding against the tracks nearly split my eardrums. The doors to each wagon slid open, and I was able to see a small piece of paper with information (in English!) that matched some of the writing on my ticket. 2006-07-22, Duisburg-Copenhagen, Night train. I boarded, trying to look nonchalant as I did, and made my way to my assigned cabin. There were three cramped bunks on each side of the cabin and no place to put any luggage, so in the interest of not getting my shit stolen in the middle of the night I hoisted everything up onto my bunk, the middle one on the right side, and tried to lie down and get some rest. This was proving to be pretty hard, since I had a suitcase taking up a quarter of my sleeping area and, at the same time, there was someone repeatedly opening and closing the door to my cabin while muttering to himself.
The guy was 60 or thereabouts, and as far as I could tell he was having issues with the door, or he was a vampire and was expecting me to invite him in. Whatever it was, I couldn't tell, and when a girl around my age came into the cabin and gave him a furtive, confused glance I knew I wasn't the only one. Eventually the ticket inspector came and the crazy old German guy (cogg) mumbled loudly at him for a while. It was only after a few minutes that I noticed that the ticket inspector was just nodding and giving the guy blank stares because he didn't understand him either. Eventually cogg sorted out his business and climbed into the bunk above mine while the other girl settled in across from me. With that settled, I tried to get some sleep.
'Tried' is the operative word here. Mr. Cogg was still mumbling to himself about stuff that only he could understand, and interspersed with the mumbling was the sound of him coughing and choking on what I imagined to be his own plegm. When I got on this train the most I was expecting was for someone to talk to me in a language I couldn't understand; instead I was getting a front row seat to what sounded like a Kraftwerk concert as performed by Rammstein. With phlegm.
As I pondered my predicament I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the girl.
"Excuse me, maybe we can change to another place?"
"I don't know," I replied.
The girl looked at the cogg above me and visibly shuddered with revulsion.
"He smells so bad. I have to get out of here. I am going to talk to the officer and maybe change to another wagon. Should I tell him to change you as well?"
As if to anwer my question, the cogg coughed up some more phlegm and mumbled something that sounded like, "bubble dribble gobble sliver".
She left, and I was left to my own devices. In this case that meant that I was left to try and smell the cogg (I have no sense of smell, see, so I wanted to know what was getting that girl all worked up) and shift uncomfortably in my place. I was not living up to Kurosawa's standards at all.
Five minutes later, the girl came back in and gave me a look of sheer, unadulterated pity.
"I talked to the conductor and he found another place for me in a just-girl cabin. Sorry, I hope you're okay."
I was going to say something, but she had grabbed her stuff and wavedashed the hell out of there before I could.
Luckily, around that time the cogg had finally settled into something resembling sleep in human beings. Hey, this isn't so bad, I thought, finally drifting off to sleep myself. So I got off to a rough start. It doesn't mean everything's going to go downhill tonight.
Just then, a man and a woman barged into my cabin, ripped off their clothes, and started making out on the bunk below mine.
To be continued...