I’ve teased you long enough. I dangled the promise of a story filled with European intrigue, violence, rage, sex, heroics and chicken, and you bit. Your silence has moved me. I’m starting the post today, if it gets too long (insert your own joke here), then I may make it a two-parter. Hell, maybe even three parts, I’ve got nothing else to blog about but cute kids and a dead cat.
Also, my lovely wife knows this story, but I’ve never written it out for the masses, and it does include a life I led years before she made me into the honest man you now know. So, with all apologies to Tricia, here is the story you almost asked for:
The train ride out of Dresden was pleasant enough. The scenery was green and lush. Prague waited at the end of the line- a line wrought with the romance and tragedy of history. So much had happened on these tracks, blood and metamorphosis.
In contrast to the old that engulfed us was the bright youth of the day. It was young, and so were we. We were full of promise and carried our heads heavy with lust and liquor. We carried them high.
We met some American girls on the train and found comfort in their kinship while drinking lazily, and entertaining thoughts that started at their smiles and drifted gently downward.
There were two stops in Prague, and ours was the second. It appeared to be the case with all of the tourists, as they started to straighten backpacks, check their reflections in the window and polish off whatever traces of open liquor that had got them this far.
A man appeared. Many men actually. They boarded at the stop, and it was easy to see that this was their livelihood, the constant commute between two stations, rubbing against the wanderers of the world and selling their wares. In the case of our visitor, it was lodging.
It startled us, to have someone offer us a room in a private flat. We had an unspoken plan that was basically get off the train and track down one of the many hostels that filled our traveling books, and the girls, as women are prone to do, were already prepared and had a hotel room booked in advance. They were much more organized than we ever considered being.
The apartment in question belonged to a jazz musician that was currently on tour. The room had three cots, one for each of us, and access to the kitchen, which we used as a place to sit and drink beer out of old jelly jars.
There was another room as well, and shortly after we unpacked and made ourselves at ease with what still felt awkward, but according to our books was normal and legit, it too was rented. We sat there, three friends from Tucson, drinking warm beer that we had always mispronounced (Pilsner Urquell is Ur-well, not ur-kell, despite every bartender in America insisting that it is for the past 12 years) and in walked our new flatmates, two guys from Scottsdale. What were the odds, really?
The three of us, D, M, and myself, decided to get something to eat. We stepped outside, took the first right and ran into the American girls stepping from their hotel. They smiled again.
We ate some bland food, drank heavily, and made our way to the main square in old Prague. It breathed deeply and felt old, not much different than what Kafka would have walked through, minus the neon.
There is a clock there, in the square, that is the most beautiful timepiece I’ve ever seen. In fact, the story goes that upon its completion, the monarch that had sanctioned it had taken the artist and cut his eyes out, so that he could never create anything more that might surpass its grandeur.
I can’t help but think that the artist thought it worth it.
There was a club there, downstairs and through a dark, damp hallway. It was once a dungeon, and now it was a bar filled with cheap beer and topless women. We went in and found a table.
(to be continued)