The Dark Path

The Dark Path by David Schickler

Book: The Dark Path by David Schickler Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Schickler
we’re on board Graham discovers that I carry a rosary in the front pocket of my jeans. He’s told me several times that he doesn’t believe in God, and he looks stunned now, or betrayed, and he asks me questions. When it’s clear to him that I actually use the rosary regularly, he harrumphs.
    â€œWait . . . you haven’t ever prayed for
me
, have you?”
    I lie. “Um, no.”
    â€œDon’t you ever pray for me,” he threatens. “I mean it, Schick.”
    He has dark moods and motivations sometimes. One reason we stay friends is because when he gets a certain glare in his eyes, I leave him be.
    â€œOkay,” I say.
    Our goal is Greece. After Budapest, we get a train south but it stops at the border between Hungary and Yugoslavia. Intimidating soldiers in gray overcoats board and start yelling in Hungarian and looking at passports.
    They order off the train all Americans and everyone who’s not Hungarian or Yugoslavian. I’m in the train’s bathroom, suffering chronic diarrhea, but even from the bathroom throne I can see out the window a concrete building into which all American passengers are being herded. A knock comes on the door and I hear Graham.
    â€œHey, come on out, man, there’s a guard here. He needs to see our passports and they’re in there with you in your rucksack. I think we’re getting booted.”
    â€œI can’t come out,” I grunt.
    â€œHe can’t come out,” Graham tells the guard. He tries to explain my plight in German.
    â€œHim, name.” The guard raps the door, speaks broken English. “Him, in there, name . . . what is?”
    â€œYou don’t speak any German?” Graham asks.
    â€œNo.” The guard bangs on the door again. “Him name . . . what is?”
    I’m not sure why Graham says what he says next. I think he knows that I’m stressed about Mara. In any case he tells the guard, “His name is Delphin. Dell-fain.”
    The guard raps the door. “Delphin in there, you come out.”
    I’m still indisposed, but I start laughing, hard. It gets up under my ribs.
    â€œDelphin? You, out, now!”
    I clench my teeth and hold back howls. The guard keeps calling me a dolphin. He opens the door and juts his head in. He’s glaring, then his hand flies up to cover his nose.
    â€œOh
,
Delphin
,” he says.
    In hysterics, I slap the wall. As the guard ducks out, I can tell from his face that he won’t haul me off the toilet. When the train continues south minutes later, Graham and I are the only Americans still on it.
    We stop in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, for one night. There are visible bits of soot in the air from some factory or another, and when I sneeze into a white Kleenex, it turns black. We order food at a local restaurant and get served some cooked intestines that, as near as we can tell, are stuffed with other cooked intestines. Feeling like very ugly Americans, we end up eating dinner instead at a McDonald’s, where an old woman patron with kind eyes and zero teeth tries to sell me playing cards featuring pornographic pictures of naked gymnasts. Belgrade is not for us.
    We end up in Matala, on the south shore of the island of Crete. There are white cave-pocked cliffs. It is fifty degrees out at best. It’s early April and the season doesn’t start until May, and Graham and I are the only tourists in town. We sit shirtless on beaches of tiny round stones, shivering, indignant that the sun won’t warm us and that we’re not getting the dream vacation which we planned. Finally we leave Crete for Ios.
    I’ve arranged for us to meet up on Ios with Mara and two Alabama Boys (who are studying abroad as well) and their girlfriends. The Alabama Boys and their sweethearts arrive first, and while they settle at the hostel, I wait on the dock for the day’s last ferry. It arrives with a searing orange sunset at its

Similar Books

Mosquito Squadron

Robert Jackson

WinterofThorns

Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Tempting the Bride

Sherry Thomas

Moominland Midwinter

Tove Jansson

When Dreams Collide

Brenda Sinclair

Guns of Liberty

Kerry Newcomb