We took a sleeper to Amsterdam from I-don’t-know-where because France derailed us with its wines and cognacs and armagnacs. And girls with Gauloises. I know we paid in Guilders (there was no Euro then) through a small opening at a small window to a shrunken woman with spectacles who then said, “Welcome,” but more in the “welcome to Europe” way than the polite response one usually gives after being thanked. Halfway through the night, the train stopped I-don’t-know-where, Utrecht maybe, Arnhem maybe, Tilburg, Eindhoven, maybe neither, but it picked up an armed band of English hooligans high on their team’s win earlier in the day, who stormed into the sleeper and started banging on anything that was made of matter—rattling, shaking, looking to destroy—all the time yelling in fascinating unison: MAN-CHES-TER! MAN-CHES-TER! They roused everyone to their feet and for one terrifying moment I thought it was 1942 and we were being transported to Dachau. Like cattle. But as suddenly and violently as the bald heads invaded the car, the wave receded down the line. Jesus, what was that, a man with crusty eyes said in solid English. Football. It brings people together.
Alex M. Pruteanu emigrated to the United States from Romania in 1980. Since then, he has worked as a day laborer, film projectionist, music store clerk, journalist, TV director, and freelance writer. A staff writer for The Lit Pub, Alex also works as the Managing Editor of an education assessment software system at North Carolina State University. His novella, Short Lean Cuts, is available in paperback at Amazon and as an e-book at Barnes & Noble.