Fuck-Up In Dusseldorf

The days of December went into double-digits without my purchasing a ticket to Thailand. I was sitting with Vonelli in his Charleroi mansion sifting through the online travel sites. The Floridian suggested Air Berlin out of Dusseldorf. It was a four-hour train ride from Luxembourg, where I had been serving as ‘unofficial writer in residence’ to a foreign embassy. Thirty minutes later I booked a flight on December 20 and upon my return to the residence overlooking the Petrousse I informed Madame ambassador that my absence would last into the New Year.

“Bon Voyage.” Madame Ambassador was stuck at her post. Diplomats at her level are expected to be present at their postings twenty-four hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year. “Get some sun for me.”

I departed from Luxembourg a day early to visit Koln’s medieval cathedral and the Ludwig Museum. My hotel was close to the train station and I walked over to the soot-stained monument to a mythic messiah, which is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. The spacious interior impressed the gawking tourists. I stretched out my arms to test the mysticism radar. Not a beep lit up my 4D screen, then again I was no longer a Christian.

Winter was more winter in Koln than Luxembourg. I drank Glohwein at the Christmas Fair. The girl serving my mulled wine was the prettiest girl in the city and her beauty was enhanced by the glogg. I staggered back to my cheap, but cheerful hotel and crashed on the single bed to the sound of an argument between a married couple in the next room. Nothing says love better than a fight in a cheap hotel.

The next day I toured the Ludwig Museum for two hours. Its extensive collection was too much to absorb and such a short time and I exited the museum with my eyes burned my images of Yves Klein Otto Mueller, and Alexander Rodchenko. I had thirty minutes to kill before my train and I spent twenty of them at the gloog bar. The girl’s name was Helga. The twenty-year old came from Bremen. Her favorite music was punk. If only I had been thirty years younger with three more hours to kill, but I had a train to catch. I ran to the station and caught the 12:40 to Dusseldorf.

An hour later I stepped onto the platform of the Aeroport Station. A hanging monorail brought passengers to the terminal. I presented my ticket at the check-in.

“This is one-way.” The blonde Air Berlin attendant held up my ticket with consternation.

“Is that a problem?”

“Air Berlin won’t accept the responsibility of your getting refused entry to Thailand.” She was following procedure.

“It’s never a problem at the other end.” The passport control at Cobra Swamp was overwhelmed by the deluge of tourists spewed off 747 and Airbus.”

“Let me check on it.” She picked up the phone. A minute later she handed back my ticket and pointed across the terminal. “Talk to them. They will find you a ticket.”

Buying a last-minute ticket at the airport was daunting, but the counterwoman found a cheap flight back to Dusseldorf on January 16.

$500 one-way.

“Make it so.” I love quoting Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise. It almost turns economy-class flying an adventure.

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