TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #11

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Jane said, “I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.”

“Neither do I,” Bill said.

“What do we do now?”

“I don’t know,” Bill said, setting down his luggage.  Jane put down the pieces she was carrying.  Then they saw a train coming toward them, so they picked up all the pieces again, but the train zipped past them without stopping.    Down went the luggage again.

“The sign says Dusseldorf and then something else after that.  Maybe we were on a commuter train and the one that passed us was an express,” Jane ventured.

“That makes sense.” Bill made a full circle, looking in every direction.  “I don’t see anyone.”

“Do you think we should go find someone?”

“No.  I don’t want to leave you alone when I don’t know where we are and I don’t want tote this luggage all over the place.  Let me think about this.”

Demeter said, “Look Hera, the judges are giving them more points.”

“Well, they made a pretty bad mistake, but they’re recovering well.  Let’s go help them.”

“They’re not up to a thousand yet.”

“They will be by the time we get there,” Hera assured her, “We’re going to need some costumes.”

Standing just out of the contestants’ line of sight close to a nearby building, Hera caught Mercury’s attention.  He shook his head no and held up a finger. “Smiling towards the scrying screens he said, “Oh nothing, I just saw some locals, but I have to agree with you, the contestants have been pretty smart to stay put.  Oh look, the score just reached one thousand.”

The goddesses stepped from behind the building and headed towards the platform, but Demeter was sure no one would recognize them as deities.  Hera outfitted them as stout middle-aged women in non-descript black dresses, black hose and black shoes.  Just for good measure she’d found a pair of dresses rank with sour body odor.

 Hera greeted Bill and Jane in German and the contestants both smiled and nodded.  Jane asked, “English?” The goddesses shrugged.

Bill greeted them in Arabic and both goddesses started chattering away in the same language.  Jane stood by looking more than amazed. Bill said to his wife, “They’re going to help us.”

“Are they Egyptian like you?”

“No and I can’t understand everything they say, but I understand enough to know we’ll be OK.”

 As a train pulled up to the platform the goddesses motioned for the contestants to follow.  They each grabbed a bag as they climbed on the train.  Everyone found a seat and Bill kept up the banter, teasing them and even flirting a bit with Hera.

Arriving at the main train station, weighed down by luggage, the foursome got off the train.  Hera motioned for Jane and Demeter to stay with the luggage as she grabbed Bill’s arm and took him to the ticket window.  With much conversation and arm waving, the tickets were purchased.  Bill and Hera ran back to the other two and started grabbing up luggage.  Demeter and Jane grabbed up the rest and soon all four were running toward some stairs.

With Jane straggling behind, Bill jumped into one of the cars of a train and tossed his luggage away. He turned around quickly to catch the bags the goddesses threw towards him.  As Jane huffed and puffed up to the door, Bill drug her, still weighted down by her load onto the train.   Demeter and Hera gave her a shove from behind.  The automatic doors barely missed her. The contestants stood toe to toe, looking wide eyed at one another, as the train pulled away.

Before either contestant said a word, the goddesses were back in Demeter’s living room cackling like the witches they’d appeared to be in their black German garb.  On the face of the water, Jane said, “Is this the right train?”

Bill said, “I hope so.”  Both contestants melted into hearty laughter.  The other passengers on the train gave them wary looks, but that just made them laugh harder.

Gathering up their luggage and stowing it around a pair of seats Jane asked, “Did you get a whiff of those two?”

“Oh my god, did I ever!  I thought I was going to throw up.  That’s why I stayed ahead of them on the way to the train.”

“And left me to bring up the rear.  I nearly fainted when we reached the stairs.  A strong breeze carried the smell right into my face.  I actually stumbled and didn’t think I could get up.”

“I’m so sorry.  I didn’t dare turn around.”

“If we’d been one millisecond later, you’d have left me.”

“I’m sure those women would have helped you.”

“We didn’t even speak the same language!”

“They were really nice though. They would have figured something out. They wouldn’t have left you stranded.”

“I’m glad you think so.  Are you sure we’re on the right train?  This is the second time today we’ve hopped on a train at the last possible second.  If we do it again, we could end up in Berlin!”

About that time a uniformed railway employee showed up and held out his hand.  Jane said, “Dortmund?” The ticket taker nodded.  Jane smiled and Bill found his tickets.

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