Moscow – Riga
I got to the platform at 18.30 after a day of running about in search of a ticket. My holiday was already three weeks old and as of yet I had done nothing to make use of it. My girlfriend had broken up with me the day work had finished and the slow healing process had come to fruition. Each day she slid further from my mind and happiness lowly filtered back in. Three weeks of moping around, drinking and smoking is not healthy. Not for the body nor for the mind. I couldn’t help it though; when I get stuck in a rut nothing can extricate me from it save the passage of time. I needed a break to fully cauterize the wound. New places that didn’t remind me of her. and when Liz messaged me that morning that she would be in Riga on her way down through Eastern Europe, I jumped at the opportunity to join her. I left a note for my flatmates and quickly packed a bag with clothes, cables, and a couple of condoms just in case. I had only stayed in one hostel before, but I heard that they’re full of horny travelers. I was getting sick of the whole miserable brokenhearted loser act, I wanted to get back in the game.
The train to Riga left at 19.00 exactly so I had half an hour to spare. I could thank my father for teaching me the maxim; ‘everything takes longer than you think.’ It meant I was never left fidgeting in the backseats of taxis nervously checking my phone, no leaping over airport barriers. No exciting life, but I always made my journey. I was punctual and a man to be trusted. When I said I would be somewhere, people knew that I would be there. I also inherited the other side of this coin; the irritation felt when others weren’t up to my level of punctuality. It shows such great disrespect, everyone knows this, so why do they continue to do it, to let me down? A grown man should be able to control their time, to predict what may happen and account for any event. I had done well on this one, aren’t you proud? Even got on early enough to procure myself a bed. Obviously though, I couldn’t predict everything. Once I got on the train it was not my realm anymore. My punctuality counted for nothing. We were slaves to the whims of the driver or the suicidal man laying on the tracks. My journey was out of my hands and that made me feel strangely nervous.
I hooked the curtain back behind a peg and gazed out the window. My ears were plugged with my music. Another train stood still beside us in the station and the carriage slowly filled with passengers. Next to me, on the other side of the aisle sat four people. They were immediate friends, I could see them in my peripheral vision, hand shaking, back slapping, faces red from laughing so hard. How strange people are. Sit them on a metro or a bus and no niceties are exchanged. As soon as they get on an overnight train though everyone becomes best friends. They are happy to share their life story, their food and their drink. Why? Cynics will say that it is to protect their valuables during the night, an immediate pack is formed who will look out for each other. The friendliness in one compartment creates a hostility to the others: their common enemy. Other cynics will say that it is simply the done thing, so we will all follow suit as we are sheep. It would be rude not to so we must. Me, I’m of the second opinion and I don’t mind participating. If I am forced to though then this ruins everything. God forbid I will be seen talking to some sad cunt due to an outdated social code. We have gadgets now that makes these rules obsolete. We can cocoon ourselves behind our screens and headphones; we can politely ignore social advances.
Outside of Moscow the forests flew by. They looked lush in June’s greenery. Great sumptuous trees bayed over the algae covered ponds; all shades melded together. The midday rain still remained hanging tentatively in the leaves. What a sight! The harmony of nature. Surely this is the greatest advantage of traveling by train, you go on a private path through the heart of a country. A plane sees nothing, a car sees petrol stations, a boat sees fish. A train sees all; nature, cities, farms, the whole beauty and ugliness of the world from the window. If you’re lucky you even get people waving to you.
I could hear the murmur of amiable conversation over my music. An occasional joke would spark off a domino scatter of laughter. At each instance I would twitch my next towards them yet was careful not to establish any eye contact. I felt mildly irritated by the fact I was allowing myself to be distracted from the beauty outside the window. The four of them, up to now engrossed in each others company suddenly quietened down. Those on the aisle looked down the carriage as a single strong and calm voice bowled through the air. I took my headphones out, yawning in fake restlessness. I wanted to hear the voice which had shut down the friendly conversation, some kind of of leader no doubt. I quickly learned that they were a tour group. I suppose it explained why they were so chummy already; perhaps they weren’t weird freaks, uninhibitedly and sickeningly friendly.
By the end of the leaders speech I had discovered their true nature. This was a Christian group and I was slap-bang in the middle of it. My eyes widened in horror. It was all so obvious now. The friendliness was so natural, pure and virtuous. I saw the crosses glistening under the artificial light and the bibles scattered on tables. I recoiled in my seat, hunching into the corner. There was the reason for their strange behaviour. By now they were mingling all through the carriage. New, beaming faces strolled past me by the minute. They were inexplicably happy and there was not a clinking bottle within earshot. What was this strange cult doing going to Riga and why did they think OK to take over this whole carriage. Why was I not warned? What did these freaks think of me? Admittedly, they seemed like nice people. They were happy. But why did they not follow our social codes, so brazenly infringing on each others space like an extended family of sixty members. I became scared and a little offended. With the help of one of the Christians to unfold me bed I retreated up top and once again looked at the passing countryside to calm my nerves.
I wondered what the Muslims would be like. Inherently scarier due to the colour of their skin; what is different is always scary since it is unknown. These people were weird but known quantities. They were sheep that had strayed from the flock. What about the Buddhists? The only religion I had seriously considered, if you can call it a religion. Peaceful but not patronizing. They had clearly reached a higher plane, you could see it on their little yellow faces. Their serenity is palpable. All I could see and hear here was a nervous devotion to their God’s principles. These weirdos didn’t embrace their ideals, they just followed them for the eschatological reward.
What if this was a cult sect? I didn’t know much about Christianity, but I had heard about a lot of suicide cults a la Jonestown. The absurd thought that I was on a death train crossed my mind. We could be about to plunge off a cliff. These cunts would get eternal salvation but I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be joining them. Sweat began to creep from my skin onto my eyebrows. The countryside had changed little, it was still stunning and a welcome distraction from the unsettling events unfolding before my eyes. Churches perched on hilltops in the distance, sparkling in the early evening glow. I loved to visit them before, much like people visit the zoo. To look and to observe these strange creatures. When you are locked in the cage with them it is not so enjoyable.
What if this was a conversion mission? Not only had the Russian cunts enslaved the Latvians before, now they wanted to take their personal freedoms again! Maybe it was even me they wanted to convert! My stomach turned inside me and I rolled over on my simple bed. I had thirteen more hours before I could get off. I tried to think about Riga, a city I knew nothing about, and look forward to the adventure I would have there for the next few days.
The moon was high in the sky, a half crescent staring me in the face. It was much more comforting than what was on the other side of me. I gazed into it deeply and practiced my trick of turning my mind blank. It is far easier to escape unpleasant experiences by ignoring them than to think about them. A new man entered the scene, by the looks and sounds of him the most charismatic man alive. Every word from him was waited on, replied to with tweaked cheeks and flashing teeth. I had to leave and went for a walk. I had seen a restaurant carriage from the platform earlier – what now seemed like a lifetime ago.
Moving down the train, the other carriages reinstated my sanity. Little kids peered out the windows, their tiny feet arched up on a rail. So engrossed were they in the outside world that I didn’t see their beautiful faces of awe. Parents were playing cards and drinking like good normal people should do. Who really knew who these people were though? These Christian cunts had ambushed me the train. The signs were there admittedly, but all the same it was a surprise. Maybe these regular people would surprise me as well.
The bar lady in the restaurant was beautiful and I considered trying to chat her up; maybe I could have a good story to tell to Liz, in addition to the religious onslaught. I decided not to though, I was in no state to come across charming to anyone. I was a bundle of nerves, claustrophobic and scared. I was sure that she could tell this. I chose three Latvian beers to acclimatise to my destination and paid her in Rubles. I had no idea what the Latvian currency was, but I was sure I would soon find out. I wandered slowly back to my base with the beers gently rocking in a bag at my side.
I opened my first beer an turned opened a new book: After Dark by Haruki Murakami. Quick glances of disappointment glared at the hiss of escaping air. I looked back unflinchingly. Having had the conversation briefly interrupted by their judgement, it quickly returned to the topic of how one of them looked identical to a sportsman. I found the very topic bizarre, and even more so from how amusing they found this observation to be. I tried to ignore them and read but I became irate at the inanity. These people can’t discuss anything interesting save they offend God. It is human nature to want to fuck and to drink. These freaks couldn’t enjoy either of these basic rights, denied to them from their overseer. Such a cull of human nature, a repression of our earthly rights to gain celestial rewards. They were pretending to be something they were not. The moonlight was becoming dim and many had already retired to bed, exhausted from their thrilling observations.
I had to to do something about this. There had been a great injustice to me, invading my personal space. Also, a great disrespect had been served to our social codes. It had left me chilled yet they were even more smug than before! The cheek of it! I spotted a young Christian maiden leaving the carriage and made up my mind. I had eleven hours left till Riga and knew that I could not put it any longer. I waited a few seconds to decoy the others and tried to pull a curtain over my face to hide my emotions. Rage was flowing under my skin, lust and appetite were trying to pry out of my mouth, somehow I managed to keep cool and look normal. I arose with my beer bottle and followed her out the carriage.
Waiting outside the toilet I listened to the flow and splash of her piss against the porcelain. She flushed and spent some time making herself beautiful again. I was hopping from one foot to the other, bubbling with excitement. I swigged at the bottle in my hand and steadied myself.
She came out and gave me a huge smile. I lunged at her mouth with my hand; plugging her lips. Her eyes engorged as I had hoped; I wanted to see the fear in her heart. I grabbed her waist with my other hand and pulled her back into the toilet, locking the door behind us. She struggled and lashed out. I felt no pain, I could not in my state of excitement. That tang when you do something bad. I could feel it in every cell of my body. This was something that those people will never experience. I pulled down her trousers and pants exposing an enormous unkempt bush. She screamed and I panicked. The bottle came down and smashed on her head, she crumpled onto the toilet, her forehead came to a rest on the seat. I took the remnants of my beer and wet her vagina with my fingers. Slowly, savouring every moment I stroked myself until I was hard as stone and hoisted her onto the sink. The tap pushed into her hips and she slumped down into the recess. I put myself in her and felt the vengeance of two hundred crusades coursing through me into a single point. Her face was pleasantly still. I looked at it occasionally in between catching glimpses of my gnashing face in the mirror. I didn’t care about the consequences as I pumped away. Maybe I would go to prison. Maybe I would be forgiven by these loonies and treated as a lost soul. Whatever happened I didn’t care. Justice was being served.