|Travel Is Fatal!|
To Prejudices and Biases
|In The Spirit of Mark Twain|
Virginia City, Nevada
My train from Augsburg arrived at the station in Munich in plenty of time for me to connect to my train to Italy. It was a warm summer night, and the smells of the rail station wafted around me as I struggled with about twenty pounds of camera gear, a tripod and some luggage of my own. It was a lot to carry, but I didn't mind until I got to the track where the Italian train stood waiting. Whereas before I thought I had plenty of time, suddenly I realized that I should have arrived about two hours earlier. The train was packed to the gills with people and luggage. Not a seat to be had anywhere, I had to squeeze myself into the passageway not too far from the door to the toilet and sit on my suitcase for about ten or eleven hours before I finally staggered off the next day at the railway station in Verona.
Beat to death, not having slept a wink, I slung the photo gear over my shoulders and headed out for the apartment of a friend to whom I was returning the equipment. Having visited his apartment several times before, I knew I could walk it. Perhaps I should have taken a cab, as it soon became apparent that it was farther from the station than I remembered. Trudging block after block over ancient cobble-stone streets, I doggedly pressed on, exhausted.
Not paying attention, and in sort of a fog, I stepped off a curb and out onto a busy street when I was jarred out of my wits by the sound of a car horn braying. To my horror, pressing down on me at high speed from the left was a green Peugeot. It was not stopping! I had to make a run for the opposite curb as it whooshed past me still honking furiously. I was shaken, but alive.
Finally I arrived at my friend's apartment and recounted the story. Later that night, I fell into bed and slept the sleep of the dead.
The next day, I had a most unusual experience. Like de ja-Vue, I found myself on the exact same street corner, and as I stepped off the exact same curb, to my horror, I was confronted by the exact same green Peugeot! But this time he was coming even faster, and there was no time even to run out of the way. With all my strength, I threw myself out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. I threw myself so hard to the ground on the opposite side of the street that I hit my head on the curb in the process. I heard the car's tires whoosh by me and he was gone. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I was gulping huge gulps of air as I could feel the blood rushing through the veins in my neck. I was shaking uncontrollably with fear and panic.
Then I tried to sit up. But suddenly, to my absolute horror, I made a shocking discovery. I couldn't see anything! My eyes were wide open, but I was absolutely blind! When my head hit on the curb, I saw stars and then nothing! A new panic overtook me. "Oh, my God," I cried out. "Don't let this happen!" I remember actually taking my hands and holding my eyes open just to make sure. No, I could see absolutely nothing. Suddenly another wave of fear swept over me. I realized that I had to get out of the street and up onto the sidewalk lest I be hit by yet another car. But which way was the curb? I threw my hand out before me and felt nothing. I wheeled around and flung it out behind me and touched it.
But something was odd! It was not rough and hard like those ancient stone curbs that are so typical in medieval Italian towns like Verona. It was smooth and slick. As I ran my hand across its surface, I realized that it was not a curb at all! in fact it felt more like a ... yes, there was no doubt about it. It was a chest of drawers! In Italian it is called a cassettone. "What in the hell is this cassettone doing out in the street?, I wondered. Well, I supposed that someone was moving, or that there was a furniture store loading a truck by the curb. But I still had to get out of the street!
Suddenly I remembered the photo equipment! "Oh, my God," I thought. "Where is the gear?" My hand flew to my chest searching for the straps of the camera bags; but they were not there! Then, another shock overtook me. Not only was the camera gear missing, but so were my clothes! I felt a T shirt, and to my horror only a pair of briefs. "What could be worse, what could be worse!" I wailed. "Here I am stone blind in my underwear in the streets of Verona!"
Still in a panic to get out of the street, I reached down to run my hand over the ancient stones. Perhaps, I thought, I could just grope my way to the curb from here. I laid my hand flat on the street. But something was odd! It didn't feel like those ancient paving stones... no, it was something different. It was .. yes, it was carpet!
A wave of relief swept over me. Wait a minute This is not the next day. This is tonight, and I am not out in the street. I am sitting on the carpet in my friend's guest room, and I am not blind, but, is this room dark! I groped my way around the pitch black room and found the bed once again I couldn't remember ever having had such a vivid dream before. That green Peugeot sure seemed real. Real enough for me to throw myself with all my might out of bed and across the room. For days I felt the nasty bruise on my head where I crashed into that cassettone. ~Tom Muzzio
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