The train whistled, and eerie whistle, a whistle with a loss.
They sit across the the other couple they met on this train to Prague, Elise and Paul looked at each other. How did they get this idea? Suddenly talking about life with two complete strangers made each of them think this was a wonderful, “live in the moment” idea.
Paul planned this trip for Elise a few months ago for their anniversary, like a second honeymoon! Little did he know they’d both be challenged for their lives.
The other couple, Jonah and Valerie, travel from place to place, modern day gypsies in a way. They like to talk to strangers and get to know the world, without ever settling in one place and never having the money to pay for what they do own. But they’re nice enough, talking about their childhoods and how they met, and what they plan to do in the future.
Now Elise, Paul, Jonah and Valerie all sat there at the round table facing one another. This is a game, a betting game, who’ll live to see tomorrow? What spouses will remain together and who will return to their daily lives alone.
One bullet in the gun. Taking a chance on life, for what? Why do this?
On the train Elise and Valerie talked about how they’d love to get a do over in life. When Jonah overheard this, he immediately agreed.
“We all deserve a do over at least once”, Jonah had said.
Paul on the other hand was quite pleased with the way his life turned out and he sat there quietly. He found something eerie about Valerie and Jonah, but they were nice and they were just on the train with them.
“I have an idea,” Valerie said. And she went searching through her bag for something. “Since we do deserve a do over, we should play a game.” At the bottom of her bag she found it and as she was pulling it out, Jonah held her arm immobile.
“Valerie”, he replied, as if trying to figure out if this is what she really wanted to do.
“What? They might like the idea.” She said.
She pulled out a tiny pistol, the clean silver looked as if it had never been used.
“Russian Roulette”, she demanded. “I propose that this be game of chance and whomever goes, their spouse gets a do over.”
Jonah seemed surprisingly okay with this. Paul and Elise however looked back and forth between each other and the other couple. Why did they want this? Paul and Elise were happy together, Elise was joking of course about the whole do over conversation. But what if she could have a do over, would she do it, even if she were without Paul?
Valerie gave them a few hours to think. But in the meantime it grew dark and as the night set in, Elise, Paul and Jonah dozed off, leaving Valerie awake to master a quite fine bulletproof plan.
She dropped some GHB powder in Elise and Paul’s drinks. As they began to wake up, they took small sips. Soon they starting hallucinating, and Valerie handed them the gun.
“Your turn”, she said as if they’ve been playing for hours.
“Okay”, Elise took the gun and pointed it at her head.
POP! the bullet went right through her head. Paul just looked at her.
“Paul, I believe you owe us the ten thousand euros we betted”, Jonah said, fully aware and seemingly knowledgable on how to handle this situation. Paul payed up, he emptied his wallet and wrote out checks. Jonah and Valerie stood up, “It was nice talking with the both of you”, he said diplomatically. Valerie gave him a sincere smile as she tucked the gun back in her bag. As Paul’s vision started to blur, Valerie and Jonah walked out.
Everything went black.
The next afternoon Paul woke up with a air mask attached to his face. He was still sitting in the train car and he was surrounded my medics and policemen. The drugs had worn off and he suddenly became completely aware of the smell of death in the room.
He looked over and saw a sheet covering a body. And though the medics tried to keep him seated, he stood up forcefully anyway and went up to the covered corpse.
He gulped. He slowly lifted his hand and pulled the sheet down. There lay his wife Elise. He became dizzy and couldn’t stand any more. He fell. The medics helped him up and the policemen started asking him questions. But his thoughts were blurry now and his eyes were creating puddles beneath him.
A month later, Paul was sitting in a police station in Prague, with a solemn sadness on his face, giving details about the couple him and Elise met on the train. But somehow he knew Jonah and Valerie would never be found.
“How ironic”, he thought to himself. “I’m the one who gets a do over, and I didn’t want one. We played the game of life with criminals who were in it for money and possibly a twisted life lesson.
I can never this place now. The last place my wife breathed. But what shall I do? Get a job I suppose. Try to forget the cause of her death I suppose. Make friends and move on I suppose.
But I suppose it’ll be difficult. I suppose It’ll take years to never actually overcome this doom and sorrow. I can pretend, and that’s good enough I suppose.”
He suddenly spoke up to the policeman. “It was a game, a do over your life game. I never wanted a do over. But what do I do with it now that I’ve got one?”
A train whistled lively in the background.
Picture from: http://www.euronews.com/2013/05/20/prague-metro-plans-to-launch-love-train-for-singles/