Friday, July 25, 2008

Have You Ever Been to Liechtenstein?

It was the summer of 1983, and we had no real plan other than hitchhiking through Liechtenstein. I don't mean the artist Roy Lichtenstein, I mean the principality, the one formed during the Napoleonic Wars a couple hundred years ago, sandwiched between neutral Switzerland and Austria, just north of hot-blooded Italy.

A black and sporty little car pulled up alongside us on a thin, curvy mountain road. A strange little man with moustache nodded for us to get in. Suzanne pointed to the back seat, so I opened the door for her and climbed in after. The strange little man sped off with us in his clutches. It was then we saw he had no hands, just some sort of white glove-covered nubs. He drove his black and sporty little car with his knees while we chilled in the back.

That evening, after the handless moustached man dropped us off with not a word and only a wry little smile, we walked around Vaduz, looking for place to stay. The monastery wouldn't take co-eds. We walked around some more. Dashed into a hotel and almost stayed there, but couldn't find an unlocked room. Walked around again. Found a hostel with strict rules. Curfew at 10 p.m., separate rooms, no hanky panky.

Went out on the town, drank some, sang some, took in the surrounding mountains. Tried to get back inside our hostel after 10 p.m. Got yelled out by the strict (probably Swiss) proprietor. Suzanne cursed him out, pissed off and ready for a fight -- our stuff was inside and we'd paid the equivalent of ten dollars to stay there! Bellowing from the second story, the proprietor slammed his window shut and drew down the inside shades.

I remember, just before dawn, huddling with her under the table of an outdoor cafe, startled awake from a dream of cold rain and a VW van driving far off into the mountains, but there she was beside me, sleeping fitfully.

Have you ever been to Liechtenstein?

Today's Rune: Wholeness.


Lana Gramlich said...

An interesting story! No, I've never been there. Never been across that pond, actually.

Charles Gramlich said...

That sports car driver would make a great character in a story.

Sidney said...

Good story!

Johnny Yen said...

I've never been to Lichtenstein, but my college friend Ray's father was from there.

Your handless driver reminded me of a story a friend of mine told me. In college, he went home with a girl he met in a bar, and when he got home discovered she had an artificial leg.

Andrew Faber said...

dfrance this was pure poetry!