The silence was killing us. Well, not really.
It was just making the passing time pass by
slower and more uncomfortably. When you’re with
someone whose company you enjoy, time flies.
“Right now time is flowing like molasses,” she
said. I couldn’t disagree. “Why do you think
I speak English so fluently?” she asked. I
shrugged and jerked my thumb over my right shoulder,
“Lady, I’m past the point of being surprised
by anything I see. This isn’t real. This
is a dream or something. And sometimes it’s a
nightmare. I don’t even know how I got here.
I just woke up on a horse in the middle
of China being chased by Kublai Kahn and
about fifty thousand of his Mongol friends.
I saw a train coming around a mountain,
which, now that I think about it, makes no sense,
because the great Kahn died in 1294
and I think trains and railways were invented
sometime in the 19th century or so.”
The girl just nodded. “That’s pretty weird,” she said.
“I’m just getting started,” I stated. “That’s not
even the weirdest part. My friend Herman was
with me, and he was born in 1980.
We were helped onboard by a conductor who
looked just like Johnny Cash, then there were these three
brothers who just acted out The Darjeeling
Limited the entire time, even though
we were on the Transiberian railway
and not a slow-moving train through India.
Also, I’m pretty sure I saw Tom Bosley.”
“Who’s that?” the girl asked. “Richie Cunningham’s dad,”
I answered. “Or he was … a long time ago.
Before the dark times. Before The Empire.”
She just stood there staring, saying nothing. “You’ve
never seen Star Wars?” I asked. She made a face.
“Are you kidding? Look around. What do you think?”
I honestly didn’t know, so I just shrugged.
She pulled out a pack of hand-rolled cigarettes
from her back right pocket and offered one to
me. I just stared at it. “Does that taste like shit?”
I asked. She paused for a moment, then nodded.
“Thought so,” I said, waving it away. “No thanks.”
Again there was silence. She stood there smoking,
staring out at the water. I got tired
of just standing, so I sat down in the mud.
So did she. She crossed her right leg underneath
her left and rested her left arm on her knee.
Neither of us said a word for five minutes.
It was a wonderful moment, there by the
river, then she said, “Do you think I should go
out with Sergei?” I paused, then nodded. “Sure. Why
not? Give the guy a chance. See what he has to
say. Maybe the two of you will hit it off.”
“What if he’s an asshole?” she asked. “What if he’s
not?” I replied. She just sighed and lit up a
second joint, which she offered to me, but I
politely declined by shaking my head and
saying, “Guano. No bueno. No gracias.”
She shook her head, like she didn’t understand.
“Nevermind,” I said. “So … tell me about your
town. What’s it called again? Is it Bogotol?”
She nodded. “Have you seen our flag?” “No,” I said.
“It’s a unicorn resting a hoof on a
golden wagon wheel against a red and green
backdrop.” “What does that mean?” I asked. “I don’t know…”