by Julie Gengo
“So I'm supposed to just get on the train without any money
at all, and it's supposed to be okay?” Kristi shouted as she stepped into the
tiny green, slightly rusted Renault. Peter leaned over and said “yep.” She
gladly gave him the finger as they departed. “That fucking dick” she muttered a
little too loudly knowing that the driver couldn't speak any English. But the
driver probably knew those words, she
thought as she rolled her eyes.
At this point, she didn't care. I can handle this, she
tried to convince herself.
The driver smelled of vodka and she was pissed. “So what's
your name?” She said as she looked at him. He was a man possibly in his late 30's
and she, a spunky 26 year-old who had to remind herself that being an American
from a big city had its benefits, or so she was told.
“Yeah, just tell him you're an American and they will leave
you alone,” Peter said as they stood on the side of the dusty road with their
thumbs out. “Leave me alone? What the fuck do you mean by that?” “Well, when
you get on the train, just tell the guy who collects the tickets that you're an
American and everything should work out fine. They can't kick you off the train
once you've gotten on since it is an express straight to Madrid,” Peter said
with his pathetic British accent and a smile.
What did she ever see in him, she thought? She should have
made a commitment long ago to never have anything to do with him after he
showed up with another girl named Summer. Summer played the saxophone in a
band. When she smiled, sunshine came out of her eyes. Kristi should have known
that Peter would eventually do something like that – fall for a girl with
sunshine in her eyes.
The slightly tipsy Spanish man with a somber face turned to
her and smiled. “Como te llamo,” she uttered pensively. “Pedro” he said. Her
Spanish wasn't working that well but somehow he understood her. Oh fuck, she
thought. Isn't Pedro Spanish for Peter? She suspected she was moving from one
idiot to another, but this time the Spanish version. This was confirmed when Pedro,
the Spanish version of Peter, tried
to kiss her. She used to like it when Peter kissed her but then the seasons
She pushed Pedro away. She even thought she heard him say
something about marriage. Maybe he thought he struck gold with a young American
girl that would soon be his wife? How did she get into this situation? And then she thought of Peter and why she
never wanted to speak to him again.
Pablo began asking her a few questions but she didn't have
the brain capacity to translate and she really didn't want to know what was on
his mind. Her mind was preoccupied with safety as they swerved in and out of
the narrow two-lane road that cut along the Spanish coast.
Kristi couldn't relax. Sitting on the edge of her seat, she
clenched her belongings (which included an overstuffed bag of clothes, a purse,
a tennis racquet, sunglasses and a hat - she always wore a hat).
She also ran through various scenarios on what might happen
on the rest of her journey. Would he try to kiss her again? Would he take her
to an abandon place and try to do more things with his stinky breath and body?
She also thought, if she didn't have the confidence to speak the little Spanish
that she spent years studying, how was she supposed to even get on the right
train -- the train that would get her to
Madrid in time to catch her plane back to London?
Did Pedro even know that she needed to go to the train
But Kristi had no choice. She was in a car, with a man, who
smelled like vodka, whose name was Pedro, the
Spanish version of Peter, who was her only option.
After a short while, she eased into the journey allowing
herself to relax, in an upright position,
but unclenching her belongings so
that they now rested on her lap.
The man kept talking with his mouth and then began talking
with his hand. She watched the talking hand, that wasn't on the wheel. Made
sure the other hand stayed on the wheel. But when the free talking hand started
wondering over to her side of the seat, she quickly whipped out her tennis
racquet and executed a nice back-hand slice. "No mas, no mas" she
said frantically. "Lass mich allein. "Oh shit, wrong language"
she spurted out, but Pedro somehow complied. Kristi then called in her American
feistiness, uttered a few expletives, then looked the other way. Her heart was
racing, but she somehow knew nothing horrible would happen. This was coastal
Spain after all and not Bed-Stuy.
A few 100 meters later, she,
now positioned as far away from him as possible, realized he was pulling into
the parking lot of a shabby green building that was covered in dust. It was a
cafe or a bar or something like that. It looked like a place you would see
along the street of ghost town, but one that even ghost hunters avoided.
Why did he stop, she thought? She didn't know how to
Kristi got out of the car, fumbled her belongings and
followed him in. He walked towards the bar and ordered a shot. He held up his
glass and looked her in the eyes to see if she wanted a drink, but she beckoned
no. She couldn't believe he was drinking again, but then again, with the way
things were going, she wasn't surprised.
Was this her chance to escape, she thought? She took a few moments, then walked to the
window and thought about her next move. The next thing she knew, she was moving, following him back into the
car. "You better take me to the train station," she said as she
slammed the door shut.
Once on their way, Pedro started talking about marriage
again but this time she ignored him. She felt as if she had been through a bad marriage
and was now ready for divorce.
It was a speedy ride and within 15 minutes, Pedro pulled up
to the station and she got out. That was it, and she yelled out a big ole'
"adios" and waved goodbye.
Getting on the train was another venture waiting to take on
a life of its own, but somehow she knew it would work out just fine too. After
all, she is an American.