Bus Ride to Bucharest (part ix)

Chapter 9: So, Uh, No Funny Business

This day felt like the day she had fallen off her horse. Ginny remembered, when she was twelve, she had ridden her horse too hard one day and, pushing him over a hurdle neither of them had been ready for, found herself flung headfirst into the mud. The horse had skidded to a halt, but she had not. When she came to, he eyed her with a look of pure nonchalance, but she was covered in mud and shame. Her new riding pants were ruined. Explaining that to her mother was the easy part. Explaining her failure to make the hurdle would be the part that hurt. She dreaded the look of disappointment on her mother’s face that she could already see in her mind’s eye.

Today, she dreaded the disappointment she would hear in Dee’s voice when she called her for help. Oh, of course, she knew Dee would jump to help; she was just that type of friend, and no questions asked. But Ginny had badly wanted to prove she could be just as adventurous and street-savvy as Dee, and here again she had failed – just like at everything else in her life. Dee would never say tell her so, but then Dee would never find herself in such a mess like Ginny had.

Ginny had canceled all her credit cards and reported the incident to the German authorities, all with ruthless efficiency. Even with the language barrier, she had given them every detail about Eric she knew, calmly and without emotion.

But now, picking up the phone to call Dee, her hand trembled.

It rang twice, and when she heard Dee’s voice, she could not stop the tears.

“Dee, it’s me.”

Dee’s voice was like an angel’s. “Oh honey, what’s happened?”

Just hearing the concern in her voice made all Ginny’s hurt and sadness melt away. She launched into her tale of woe, and left no detail out and no worry unsaid.

Dee listened to every word, and when Ginny ran out of words, she said, “Honey, you need to stop beating yourself up.”

“But I’ve just been so stupid! How did I not see any of it?”

“First of all, you’re not stupid. It sounds like this guy Eric is far smoother than any usual rat. Second, this stuff can happen, even to the most vigilant. And third, I love you and I know this sucks like mad, but it’s not the end of the world. You’ll get through this just fine. I’ll wire you the money, and you’ll get on to Bucharest and have a fabulous time, and one day we’re gonna’ be sitting in Chatchky’s having a fat laugh over the whole thing.”

Ginny gave a small laugh through her tears.

Dee’s tone softened. “You want me to come out? I could fly out there.”

Oh, this is why Ginny loved her. Why on earth did she worry so much about what Dee would think? Dee never judged her. She always just said exactly what Ginny needed to hear. “Thanks Dee, but you don’t need to do that. I’ll be all right out here. It’s not much longer to Romania. I think I can manage not to get robbed twice in one trip. I just wish I were more like you. You’d never get yourself in such a pickle.”

Dee laughed. “Are you kidding me? Don’t you remember ‘Frisco?”

Ginny paused. “Oh yeah…” In college, Dee had taken a weekend trip to San Francisco, and ended up in a bar where she’d been slipped a rufie, and had her bag stolen, with her wallet, keys, and camera all inside.

“And that was Stateside. I wasn’t even in a foreign country,” continued Dee. “Look, this stuff can happen anywhere. You just roll with it and don’t let it ruin the way you see things. You can’t hole up and hide from the world. Imagine all you’d have missed if you had been too afraid to try. And it’s not so bad, is it?”

Ginny had to admit, all things considered, things weren’t all that bad. “I suppose not.”

“I know he’s a douche, but hey, at least you got a good lay out of it, right?” Dee joked.

Ginny laughed. “There’s that.”

“Silver lining, love. Silver lining.”

“Anyway, enough about me. Tell me what’s going on at home. How’ve you been?”

Dee hesitated. “Well, I didn’t want to bring this up while you were in the throes of misery, but there has been something. That jackwad, Michael’s been –“

BAM BAM BAM.

A pounding on the glass of the telephone booth startled Ginny so bad she cried out and nearly dropped the phone. She turned towards the sound and saw Eric’s angry face peering in at her.

“What’s going on?” came Dee’s voice through the phone.

BAM. Eric plastered a daily newspaper up against the glass.

Ginny gaped in shock for a moment before she could register the words on the page. It was in German, but she recognized the name Drehtermcafe, the tower with rotating views, where she and Eric had been the night before. Sure enough, there was a picture of the tower itself.

She looked up at Eric in confusion.

“It says, ‘Mass Robbery at Drehtermcafe’,” he yelled through the glass. “You were robbed, but not by me.”

“Dee,” Ginny croaked into the phone. “Dee, I gotta go.”

(to be continued…)

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