A Short Story

So, remember how I had that idea yesterday with the weird, crazy train? Well, I wrote a short story about it. It didn’t come out exactly according to plan, but, then again, when does anything come out exactly according to plan? At least I managed to write it in first person, like I wanted to.

So, here goes nothing.

The title of this short story is The Errant Husband; Or, How I Almost Was Killed By An Owl

Walking onto the train was my first mistake.

Not walking right off was my second.

Trapped between a rather hairy Gypsy woman to whom no had no meaning, and a kilometer deep chasm, I found myself wishing to be anywhere—even in the fires of Hell—but there. Believe in or not, folks, it isn’t the best situation to find yourselves in.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. How I got there, to that point in time, on the other hand, is completely relevant and probably the best place to start.

Of course, the best place to start is also usually the most boring, so I’ll just go on.

“Erm, madam, perhaps it would be better for us both if we stepped back inside the railcar…”

“No!” she boomed. “You buy dese neckelasse. It is good. Bring home to your vife. She will enjoy. Thirty euros.”

“I’m sorry, I just don’t—”

She grabbed my collar. “You buy dese neckelasse, or I will feed you to the conductor.”

Okay, wait. Maybe I do need to explain some things to you before I continue on. After all, you have to be wondering, “The conductor? Wait. What the f***?”

So, moving on—or, more correctly, moving back—earlier that day I had somehow “managed” to get onto the wrong train on my way to visit my sister-in-law and her family.

At first, I thought it was the best idea I’d had all month, but when I entered and discovered the oddest crew people and various animals one is always surprised to see outside of zoos or mounted to some trophy wall, not to mention the owl who seemed quite intent on pecking me to death, I changed my mind.

I stood in wonder, just barely noticing as the train took off out of the station and headed to who knows where.

“Erm, sir,” I said, approaching the conductor, “it would appear I’ve gotten on the wrong train.”

Tactlessly, he—or she?—laughed in my face. “We’re all on the wrong train, now aren’t we? Just get used to it.

Next stop’s H—,” the conductor said, naming a city I’d never heard of. “You can get off there, if you must.”

“Well, how long will it to take to get there?” asked I, becoming slightly peeved.

“An hour, maybe two, maybe a week, maybe a year. Depends on how whimsical the engineer is feeling today, really.”

“But I’m going to my sister-in—law’s for dinner tonight! I have to—oh, actually, now that I think about it, this might work out for the best.”

“That’s the spirit!” the conductor answered. “Now, I’m going to have to ask you to stop talking to me, please, so I can finish playing my game of gin rummy with Gaston here.” They gestured at their playing partner, a man who must have been six foot six at the least.

“Gaston here is French,” the conductor told me.

“Bonjour,” Gaston said, greeting me.

“That’s good to know,” I replied, walking away as fast as I could without seeming rude. I found an empty chair and sat next to the gypsy woman.

With empty chairs abounding, it still perplexes me why I chose there, of all places, to sit. Perhaps the minxish young woman near the front of the car wanted company, or the group of nice Hollanders drinking beer wouldn’t have minded if I joined them, or maybe even the hip—and no doubt high—young man staring out the window would have made an interesting companion. But no, I choose the strange, big-boned, hairy as King Kong, Gypsy woman. Perhaps it was, like entering the train in the first place, a temporary bout of insanity.

“Hello,” she said to me in her strange accent as I sat down. “Would you like to buy pretty neckelasse? It would go well on your wife. She might not be so upset with you for not showing up to her sister’s if you bring it home with you.”

“How did you—” I paused. “Wait, did you eavesdrop on me back there, while I was talking to the conductor?”

“No,” she said. “My owl, he did. He is a notorious gossip.” Suddenly, I looked up and saw that there was indeed an owl perched on her chair, staring at me intently.

“Ah, so it’s your owl. I couldn’t help but noticing it when I walked in…”

“Hey, buddy, you going to buy dese neckelasse or not?” she asked me. “Dirty euros only. Very cheap. Your wife will be so happy if you bring it home to her.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t. She doesn’t like jewelry; she’s more of a—”

“Are you sure? She may like dese neckelasse. You won’t know until you give it to her. Besides, it is de dought dat counts. So buy it already.”

“Erm…” I began, knowing that I wasn’t going to win this one. “Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.” As I began to get up, though, she grabbed onto my shirtsleeve.

“Oh no you don’t. You buy dese neckelasse, den you can go to de batheroom. Deal or no deal?”

“No deal.”

She gave an evil look. “Final chance—you going to buy dese neckelasse or not?”

“No.”

She sighed and said something to her owl in Romani and next thing I know I’m being attacked, head on, by what appears to be a raging tornado of feathers.

Screaming, I head away from the Gypsy and attempt to flee the train. By now, though, we’re—for some reason—in the mountains, and the car is not attached to anything else, merely moving on its own.

“That’s not good…” I cry out, remembering at the most inopportune of times that I’m afraid of heights.
To complicate matters even more, next thing I know, the Gypsy woman steps out behind me, and I find myself in the situation I described at the beginning of my tale.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes.

“You buy dese neckelasse, or I will feed you to de conductor.”

Erm…Why, this is peculiar. I told you all the events leading up to when the Gypsy woman threatened me, yet neither of us knows why the hell the Gypsy woman would threaten to feed me to the—Oh! Wait, I remember now. The bird’s name is the conductor. I must have forgotten that bit. Confusing, huh?

Moving on.

“Listen,” I said, “you can feed me to the conductor, but then how will I buy a necklace?”

“I will just take your wallet instead.”

I was stumped. “Damn,” I muttered under my breath. “Alright, you win. Here are your thirty euros. Give me the necklace and—”

Taking her by surprise as I brought out my wallet, I managed to do something incredibly stupid and altogether dangerous. Namely, I threw the Gypsy woman off to the train.

It actually worked like a charm, except for the considerable and annoying fact that the owl did not stop pecking at me and/or attempting to eat my hat the entire time I was on the train.

Eventually, though, I did come up with the bright idea to remove my hat and had about an hour to drink beer with the nice Netherlanders. After the third or fourth pint, though, the owl was smart enough to realize that I had simply taken my hat off and began to peck at me again.

After another two hours of travel, we finally stopped off at H—, and I rented an automobile to take me to my sister-in-law’s, only a town over.

I managed to make it there in time for dessert. However, seeing as I reeked of cheap Dutch beer and owl feces, my couldn’t help but getting mad at me, saying that it was painfully obvious that I must have ended up at one of those weird bars she always here’s her black sheep cousin talking about.

I’m beginning to wonder whether I should have bought that necklace or not.

So…Pulitzer-quality work, or no?

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