SAXONS  ©2000 by travis

The time is 1522.  23JAN2000.  Darkness falls as I board the EC 57 Goethe from Frankfurt, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic.  This “long distance train” which runs between Paris, Saarbrhcken, Dresden and Praha, is a long, black, dilapidated machine which looks like the midnight train to hell.  It is a matte black spectre, devoid of color, markings or humanity.  I have no time to think about it.  My train from Frankfurt airport arrived in Frankfurt au Main at 1514.  Eight minutes to find Track 10 and board the Goethe to Prague.  Mind you the terminal is huge, filled with international languages echoing through cavernous passages.  Neon signage, in my hurry, blurs into the cold and frigid white winter sky.  No time for observation.  No time to wait in (“Information”) queues.  Nevertheless, I found track 10 with one minute to spare.  How?  People stand back and stare as I pass.  I can be sure that officials see me, so I ask questions of uniformed conductors.  I make the Goethe by taking advantage of empty spaces in the crowd.  ETA Praha:  2333 hrs.  And the Goethe is “always on time.”

                I enter the swaying car and my stomach sickens from cigarette smoke.  The car is half filled with chain smoking men.  Virtually every person waiting for the train from Frankfurt airport to Frankfurt Central Station smoked non-stop.  Aboard the car to Prague, I walk into a party that can only be described as a working man’s kingdom come.  Thirteen rowdy men point insistent index fingers at me shouting out cheers and chants in German.  They are between 25-50 years old; most wear golden wedding bands, and all are thick, ordinary men dressed in dark blacks and blues from the Mall of America.  Through their drunken eyes I look down at my red patent leather shoes, red bow tie, white shirt white sweater and white gloves.  We do not really see each other.  The jeering swells my head.  I feel particularly fearless.  I am larger than life.  I will ride this train for eight hours and 11 minutes?  Yes, this is why I chose Second Class accommodation.  I sit in the first open seat, facing all but four of the men.  Two bald heads face away from me.  Soon I realize there are 20 or so members of the group.  There are four women and several other men beyond them.  Other younger, bigger men come and go to and from the car.  I note that no one wears a hat or baseball cap.  Furstenberg Pilsner flows like water.  Then Beck’s all around.  Later Freibergers all around.  Loud!  Loud! Cheers serve each round.  The men chow down on very long sausages served without buns.  These bent, black German sausages are both longer and darker than the American foot long.  They are held between bare fingers and loudly chewed with open mouth wanting more beer.  I feel like a U.S. Navy seaman again, sailing to some exotic port.  I am transfixed in my seat and I am willing to suffer cigarette smoke to entertain the sheer longing that fills the atmosphere.  I am deeply attracted to the carelessness, the maleness and the openness of this scene.  The men sing constantly and loudly!  I wonder how long can the fever continue at the current level.  Unsuspecting travelers enter the car with burning cigarettes, heavy backpacks and luggage on casters.  They look around and then they keep going to the next car.  No jeers point at them.  No cheers greet them.  No chants.  No songs.  I wonder why was I selected for special recognition?  No one speaks English and I do not speak German.

                The conductor enters to a loud, boisterous cheer.  The singers point at me with open hands, presenting me to the conductor.  Everyone chants:  “HiHo” “HiHo “HiHo!”  I enjoy the adrenaline thrill.  The conductor, who seems tired, makes his way through the disorderly welcome.  He is a large man.  Except for his fat stomach, he is well proportioned with curly blond hair and a pale but youthful, boyish face.  He slouches in a dark blue uniform offset by a wrinkled white shirt and a green, light and dark blue pre-formed bow tie.  He does not request tickets from the singers.  He is, nevertheless, very firm with me when I accidentally present my schedule instead of my ticket.  He does not (or will not) speak English.  I feel deflated.  I feel hurt.  I feel threatened by the conductor’s flaccid authority.  For the first time I feel so very all alone I shiver inexplicably.  Over the noise of the men I focus on the cold wind whistling past barren, frozen fields.  Only snow grows here.  It takes hard, black steel to till this white earth.  I press my cheek against the cold winter pane.  Somewhere in the distance a solitary light struggles.  The light disappears into dead black without a hint of moon.  I think of Saturday night parties in my Wrigleyville neighborhood.  I wonder what do lonesome farmers think and want and do out here in this undulating treeless plain?

                Across the aisle, four men play cards.  The cards have no numbers, only letters and brightly-costumed men and women; painted kings and queens.  Although no money changes hands, the card players concentrate intensely.  A younger member of the crew arrives.  He stands in the aisle between me and the card players.  He carries an older model Sony Handycam.  I identify him as camera youth (CY).  Briefly, CY films the card game.  I wonder why is a local card game important enough for a native to film it?  Another round of Freiberger.  Someone makes another joke about me.  “HiHo” HiHo “HiHo.”  Another song follows a series of similar sounding songs.  CY aims his camera in my direction.  I look up; I smile; I keep writing, minding my own business.  CY returns to his seat, facing me.  He is staring at me, smiling.  I smile and keep writing.  Between long verses of drinking songs, I turn short pages written in Gregg Jubilee shorthand.  The snorting phantom lets out a long, lonesome warning.   I look out on bucking black countryside highlighted by ice, cold and bitter smoke rising out of occasional chimneys passing by CY’s fair but weathered face reflected in my frozen window.  CY is now eating a very fat meat patty without bread.  It looks like a quarter-pounder hamburger patty breaded and fried.  Another man passes another round of sausages.  This time the firm, chewy sausages are trapped in a short, fat bun only about a third the length of the meat. I have eaten similar sausages in Frankfurt.  I wonder where does all this food come from?  It magically appears with more beer.  Now they are popping Holsten Pilsner.  CY produces a bottle of champagne.  Group song in German!  Group cheer in German!  Big men bear hug and dance!  “HiHoHiHoHiHo!”

                The noise in the car reaches riotous dimensions.  Train stations come and go.  The Goethe stops and starts but we care not as we sink, ever deeper, in the hellish belly of our belching black mule flying through space.  A food and refreshments cart arrives.  I look over the menu and take a copy.  I realize I have not a single Deutsche Mark.  I imagine hunger on a car with so much excess.

                Two of the main ring leaders occupy the next seats facing me.  They instigate spectacular song competitions among the younger men.  Ring Leader #1 (RL1) produces a soft red travel bag.  Inside is a huge section of some animal.  The animal part is cut into chunks with two hunting knives.  Crude slices of black meat pass from man to man and are gnawed almost ritualistically.  It is dinnertime.  The car smells like slices of summer pickles floating in a large Mason jar full of vinegar and peppercorn.  I wonder what is inside the other bags that occupy every available overhead space in this section of the car.  As several men rise up and open their bags, I become aware that I cannot see my own luggage, which I left in a bin at the front of the car.  I want to care about theft.  But right now, I do not care.  I invent Chicago images of CTA theft:  One man enters the car and distracts me, while his friend pinches my heavy luggage and disappears into dark, slippery landscape.  Yes, I want to care.  But no, I do not care if my luggage disappears.  I have my Passport, my credit card, my camera and my United Airlines return flight ticket on my person.  I will go wherever these unclean boys go; within or without this cloudy tower of smoke.  I am in a perfect world at this moment.  No one talks to me.  I talk to no one.  They talk about me and I write about them.  “HiHoHiHoHiHo!” 

                A dark-complexioned 25-ish boy rustles with several carry-on bags over my head.  (I label him “Dark Youth” (DY).)  He is standing over my left shoulder unzipping one bag and zipping another.  The sound of zippers excites me.  Until now I have followed the lines of DY’s features as he dozed intermittently across the aisle one seat up from me.  His coloring is much darker than the rest.  His fresh-cut black hair is thinning and tousled but he does not care.  His sad, angry eyes rest nowhere for long.  He wakes, sips his beer, readjusts both his black jacket and his unbelted, black button-fly Levi’s jeans; then he cups his hands, prayer-like, to his right cheek; and, finally, he presses his right shoulder up against the bulkhead between his seat and the icy, black window.  This provocative dance is repeated every 15 minutes.  He does not sing.  He is detached and melancholy.  Occasionally he stares onto the steel beams below.  I want to cry as I watch him sleep.  But now he stands over me.  He does not catch my eye when I look up at him.  He joins the other men who, one-by-one, stand over me and unzip oddly shaped containers.  In no time, half-a-dozen jeans-clad crotches jiggle 5” from my face.  No one begs my pardon, and I do not care. 

                Standing in front of me, RL1 lets go a yell and raises his hunting knife.  My blood surges.  He has apparently cut himself.  He sucks his finger dry.  He gets rid of the hunting knife; pulls out a bright red Swiss Army knife; then he continues to carve and dispense chunks of black meat.  DY returns.  This time, he unzips and pulls out a jar of three fat sausages in a pool of yellowish liquid.  His sausages are lighter in color, shorter and fatter than the others are and the liquid makes me squirm.  He treats me as if I am not here.  I observe him as if he is still sleeping.

                At 1715 the party grows more intense.  I note that not one man wears a watch.  An older “gentleman” enters the car.  Special Cheers and Chants! I recognize “We are the Champions!” from the band Queen.  The newcomer has a high-spirited demeanor.  He is wearing khaki slax and a white shirt beneath a yellow v-neck sweater.  His hair is thick and white and he is relatively short in stature and very soft-spoken.  He speaks to the group as would a German shop foreman.  When he leaves, the dark youth collects all bottles, cans and wrappers and dispenses with them in another car.  Then a very strange event occurred which surprised my sense of timing.

RL1 approached me with a chunk of black meat at the end of his long knife.  He is standing in front of me thrusting it at my mouth:  “Gut!” he says.  I pull the meat from his knife and begin to saw through the meat with my teeth.  It is difficult to chew, but the salt agrees with me (possibly because I never add salt).  I signal approval.  Cheers go up!  “HO-O-O!  HO-O-O!  HO-O-O!”  I am startled in light of the fact that I am willingly taking into my body a foreign substance that tastes more foreign than it looks.  At first the salt seemed pleasant.  But it also had a rubbery dark brown skin that I chewed and chewed and chewed and it would not go away.  There was a very thin layer of what I assumed to be fat.  I peel away the fat.  The more I chew, the more familiar the taste and smell.  I silently thank my mother for offers of food from the altar of persons with whom I now feel frivolously comfortable.

                As I write, two men get my attention over the singing.  A thin, very pretty young woman dressed in Nike sportswear raises a toast and the two men include me in the toast.  I am happy I don’t understand the German commentary, but I like her brash presentation.  They remark something about a “bouche.”  The sound is deep and guttural.  It sounds funny coming from a man missing half of two front teeth about which he is not at all self-conscious.  I laugh at the way the phrase is delivered:  long and drawn out.  Ring Leader #2 (RL2) remarks:  “He understands!”  Everyone cheers:  “HiHoHiHoHiHo!”  A song comes on!  The song ends with a Wave!  Then: “HO-O-O!  HO-O-O!  HO-O-O!”  followed by another Wave-like “WOOOOoooo!  OOOOoooo! WOOOOoooo!  OOOOoooo!”  Grinning broadly, dental man waves “thumbs-up!”

                RL2 offers me a Dresdner Felsenkeller Pilsner.   “From Pilsen!” he says.  I signal satisfaction and a song with a nationalistic ring sounds out.  Things turn really rowdy as RL1 and RL2 conduct an endless string of sporting songs.  RL2  is incredibly handsome.  He looks like a Latin film star:  Immaculate flesh; shining black hair cut close but unkempt; and thick, black lashes.  He is rowdy, but he has a black-eyed gaze that forces one to silence.  His lips are thick and his cheek lines are simultaneously strong and delicate beneath light coloring and golden earrings.  Sitting together we decipher that this is a German soccer team and they just won a regional championship on the road.  “SAXONS!”  His eyes light up.  Striated muscles grab my shoulders.  He pulls me abruptly to his chest and kisses me, first on the left cheek then on the right, in the rhythm of the Saxons fight song. 

                An older man arrives wearing a bright yellow goose down vest.  He shares a tin of broken chocolates with me.  A dash of cinnamon is mixed with warm milk chocolate and coconut.  The chocolate is very thin and easily crumbles.  It is delicious.  It is surprisingly light, melting instantly on my tongue.  As I eat chocolate pieces from his hand, he gestures in German how it is made.  I am distracted by a huge explosion of noise erupting in the foyer near the toilet.  “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  CY is nearly naked near the toilet.  He is wearing only a thin white cotton Italian style t-shirt and light blue boxer shorts.  He flexes and poses.  He is not brawny, his chest and arms are strong, hairless and athletic but his legs are muscular.  “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  I stand on my seat.  Everyone heads for the vestibule.  The 12 non-Saxons in the car are moving in the opposite direction.  These 12 young men with cell phones, laptops and interminable cigarettes seemed to wilt beside the Saxons.

                RL1 has now produced a very serious mug of very serious alcohol he calls “caffee.”  He towers over me with that seductive, shit-eating grin known to all military men.  He dares me to drink from his mug.  I hold it in both hands.  I savor the warmth of a distant hint of an unknown spice.  It excites some expunged lobe in the back of my brain.  I also smell whiskey and I refuse.  “Gut!….” he says.  I say:  “I know it is good, but I don’t drink; I have beer.”  More gesturing.  After what seems like five minutes of haggling, I surrender.  I drink enough of the mug to once and forever secure my fellowship in the Saxons brotherhood.  Then I stood up; lifted aloft my empty mug; and I let out a loud “YEAH BABY!”  The crowd goes crazy!:  “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hand Claps!  Toe Taps!  [Kiss/Kiss]  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!” “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!” 

                The shit in that mug was nasty!  Maybe it was nasty because I swallowed huge gulps quickly.  Well, maybe it was not really that nasty.  It was very warm and smooth.  I did not care what was in it.  I thought of it as medicine.

                CY offers me pilsner to wash down the “caffee,” which he tells me is a mixture of Wilthener Goldkrone and rum.  I cannot read the label.  It does no good to decline, so I thank CY for another beer.  We have a chugging contest.  I win and then we touch each other at the waist.  I feel a wash of careless maleness.  I feel our cold bodies slow dancing wearing only underwear and laughing hysterically because someone has stolen our clothing.  Instead, RL1 and RL2 have their arms wrapped around me.  They are lifting me from the deck and demanding of me:  “Sing, Sing, Sing!”  I like the feel of their arms around me, but I refuse to sing my own song.  I realize at that moment that I don’t know any “team” songs.  On the spot, my brain produces only sad songs of melancholy conflict and death.  As my music teacher Ken Champion always says:  “You funeralize everything.”  On the other hand, the Saxons seem to have a dozen songs for every human emotion.  And they sing non-stop.  They sing five or six Christmas Carols in English to coax me to sing along.  In my drunkenness, I join in.  They love my voice.  Cameras turn on me.  Flashes and video footage blanket me in light.  I pull out my own camera.  We shoot each other.  A green and white “SAXONS” flag emerges from the card players across the aisle.  We are brothers and lovers.  I am in. 

                Although no one knows my name, they clap and cheer for me to sing my own songs.  I say I prefer to listen to them.  I videotape and playback one of their songs.  They dance.  They dance with me.  CY hugs and kisses me on my neck and if I could fall I would.  But I am lighter than air, so light I can clearly distinguish the hissing of steel on steel as our behemoth burns along electrocuted rails.  Inside, we are bawling for freedom. 

“Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  “HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!” “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  “HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  Clap/Clap!  Clap/Clap!  HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!”  High above the din, I note that our winged beast never encounters grade crossings.

                Another pilsner.  Another mug of “caffee.”  Another ruckus near the toilet:  “Hey!Hey!Hey! Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  “HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOOOooo!  HOO!HOO!  HOO!HOO!  HOO!HOO!”  CY is in his element.  This time he is parading in his shorts; then he dances down the aisle arm in arm with another man.  Men and women join in, dancing up and down the aisle.  CY makes his way to me.  He changes into his Saxons #4 football uniform.  More Beck’s all around.  A lot of commotion surges as Saxons offer drinks to the five or six non-Saxons in the car.  They get up and go.  My eyes burn and my clothing and hair smell of cigarette smoke.  It is difficult to breathe.  People are hacking.  We do not care.  Outside there is nothing. 

                Out of the blue RL1 screams “Labor!”  RL1 and RL2 concocted the entire scenario.  First, they strung up a Red Cross flag.  Then they faked marriage, copulation and labor.  RL2 dons a bright orange Red Cross jacket.  RL1’s Levi’s jeans and white cotton Jockey shorts are lowered without embarrassment.  Two players wearing rubber gloves and identifying the musculature, inspect and discuss both his abdomen and his pubis.  The object lesson is also fun.  The singers listen to the belly and also to serious instructions issued in German.  Several men kiss the belly.  They lovingly stroke the belly identifying pressure points.  The dark, smoky scene is so charged, so sexually exciting and so creative I can only gawk; I cannot think in German.  I silently praise these men for a liberal lesson in nudity and nakedness transcending the politics of homo-, hetero-, and foreskin. 

While the First Aid team crowds over seats and upon seats, the quiet, dark youth (DY) offers me a beer and at last we meet.  I stand there smiling, thanking him and trying to explain that I have a beer and I am drunk already.  He stares me down with tyrannical distemper.  His intimidating gaze kicks the smile from my teeth.  We stand staring at each other like rivals.  I inhale deeply then suspend breath.  I recoil my manipura chakra.  He searches deeply into my eyes and then, without a word, he casually drapes his beer-swilling right arm around my neck.  His left hand rests authoritatively in his left hip pocket.  Standing side-by-side, and without removing his arm from my neck, I rub his back applying only downward strokes aggressively kneading the Mount of Venus and the Mount of the Moon down the full length of his long-suffering spine.  At the end of the First Aid exercise DY becomes animated.  He breaks our embrace and inflates white rubber gloves by blowing air into them.  Another player explosively punctures the five-fingered condoms.  DY and I catch sight of each other across the aisle and our humors roll down the track heavier than crated cattle dripping of bile.

                Like some deceptive post-partum depression, all the lights go out in our car and remain off until we reach Dresden.  No explanations are offered and no questions asked.  We are not a train.  Our black ghost staggers through a silent, colorless galaxy spreading genetically altered seed.  I wonder how do the women react to the darkness, but the women have disappeared from the car.  I think of the “Orient Express.” 

                Although the lights are out, singing and partying continue without pause.  Eventually, Ronald (“Ronnie” Saxons #10), an uninhibited and massively muscular 20-25 year old athlete, appeared with a candle and placed it on the First Aid table.  This produces cattle calls.  The next labor was very erotic, conducted by fireside as the entire car is nearly pitch black.  Afterwards, Ronnie rolls up his sleeves.  He stuffs his form-fitted blue and white cotton shirt (and no underwear) into very tight, faded Levi’s jeans (size 38X34), and sings and dances with reckless, erotic abandon exposing his well-developed pectoralis major before sitting down beside me.  My heart pounded so uncontrollably I am sure he heard it.  And neither of us cared.  As his heat consumed the revelers, we sat with his right arm locked around my neck.  Then he pulled me into his private space while belting drinking songs onto my entire face and infiltrating my drunken mouth.  As cameras flash, my stomach feels empty and liquid.  It growls, rolling noisily over and over.  I feel greedy and aggressive and again I want to howl into frigid wilderness.  I want these men to moan with me until our tears turn to fire.  Then a woman much older than Ronnie snatched him and I trace the shape of his big ass cheeks as he slips into the darkness behind her.  All around us hand-clapping and singing.  I wonder did someone turn off the lights as some perverse, deconstructionist form of crowd control?  It worked.  Half an hour later, Ronnie returned with a cone of incense which he lit near the candle.  Again, he threw his massive frame into the seat beside me and thrust another pilsner into my fist.  Then the “swaying” songs began.  Soft and romantic swaying from side to side, the players rubbing up against each other.  I ached.  I had to urinate but I did not want to distract the group now on seats, on tables and on the floor in front of me.  I found my passport, my ticket and my credit card and then I went searching for the toilet in the opposite direction of the Saxons.

                Ronnie and RL2 chat me up about the Saxons football team.  I do not understand their German.  [I think of London and my good friend Mark Merchant who gave me the book Football:  Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper.  A wonderful book about what, for me, is an exotic political enigma.]  During the long conversation, CY delivers another case of pilsner.  He insists I try a Vernesgruner pilsner.  It is very good.  CY is chatty.  We have a strenuous conversation until there is another First Aid emergency.  “Labor!”  “Labor!”  The word goes out and the car swings into action.  DY and one older man join CY and me.  I tell them I am from Mississippi and Chicago.  They cheer Mississippi.  They do not cheer Chicago.  The first Chicago impressions from all three men are of men shooting guns at each other then mowing down everyone in the car.  Athletes pretend to die.  The gun songs spurt out and continue until someone mentions Michael Jordan in perfect English.  All rise up and raise a pilsner to “Michael Jordan!Michael Jordan!Michael Jordan.”  “Hey!Hey!Hey!  Ho!Ho!Ho!  Hey!HO!Hey!HO!Hey!Hey!HO!”  A tall, thin, swaggering player arrives wearing a full set of dark green fatigues.  As he is bent over the card table chatting, RL1 and RL2 constantly grab his ass.  He never flinches even when they explore his many pockets. 

                This environment changed dramatically some time around 1930.  Until that time I resisted singing except for Christmas Carols.  Eventually, under chanting demands, I sang a verse of “Dixie” and they were thrilled. Ronnie asked me if I knew “gospel?”  I was surprised he knew the word.  I issued a few bars of a “Kyrie” in Latin.  Ronnie explained gospel to his teammates.  They hooted and chanted for more.  I tried to explain that I sing blues, country and gospel.  Then I sang a short, expressive version of “Were you There When They Crucified my Lord?” and everyone became quiet.  Whispers of “opera ….” and “gospel ….” slipped through the crowd.  Now I fear turning the team festival into some discrepant necropolitan therapy.  I try to explain that I am an art student.  “Kunst” I explain.  [I love the phrase “gesumptkunstwerk.”] “Kunst” they understood.  I thanked art history.   From that point until we parted I became known as “Tra-veese:  The Singer.”  Saxons telephone their friends to talk about (and listen to) “Tra-veese:  The Singer.”  CY telephones his English-speaking cousin and she wants to speak to me. 

CY’s name is Klaus, she tells me.  She has been on these excursions with the Saxons, and she is happy to miss this one.  Although I am drunk, we enjoy an easy conversation.  Recently, she lived in Switzerland and worked in a primarily English-speaking community.  We talked until we could not hear each other any more over the hand clapping calls for me to sing.  Klaus moves me into the corridor between cars where, via cell phone, I promise the Saxons a copy of the video.  They are stroking me and hugging me.  People come to hear me sing.  I am embarrassed.  As I sang everyone became absolutely quiet; some dozed.  At 2040 we arrived in Dresden. 

                Under the bright white lights of the strangely calm and quiet Dresden train station, all order fell completely out of control.  More pilsner and song.  Saxons expected to change trains in Dresden.  I expected to remain on the Goethe.  Once in Dresden, the Saxons said goodbye and waited on the pier.  Then our new conductor told me to move to the next car ahead.  He explained that the Goethe would continue to Prague but the car I was on had another destination.  I moved and settled all alone in a very uncomfortable sleeping room designed for four.  In my isolation, I heard the Saxons singing on the platform like some surreal dream.  Soon I realized they were singing to me and calling my name.  When I emerged at the window to wave goodbye, they cheered and sang louder and louder.  I realize that if a car is not a train, a train is not a home.  The German Police arrive.

                The Police ushered the Saxons back onto the Goethe and this time the Saxons chose the car with me.  They broke out the beer and immediately loud, frenetic songs disturbed the sleeping car.  I glimpsed a couple of Saxons talking to the Police while pointing at me.  The police actually smiled.  It was a very strange scene.  Klaus gave me “souvenirs of good German beer.”  Dresdner Felsenkeller Pilsner and Radeberger Pilsner for now and for later.  Klaus is bold and confident.  His goodbye kisses are soft and long.  I feel sexy.  I think how perfect is this sexual experience.  I do not desire what the U.S. Navy defines as “penetration however slight.”  Yet I do not attempt to conceal my excitement.  At certain moments body heat and beer breath produces damnable erections.  I feel unclean.  I tell my sense of abandon that I can care when I am dead.  Klaus’s kisses disconnect my sexuality for they contain some sort of desperation.  I have no idea what he is trying to say.  Our kisses are coupled with untranslated German and untranslated English passing in the night.  We try to translate through continuous interruptions.  The noise is so rude I move the Saxons into my sleeping room.  At some point a Customs Agent arrived and quickly departed. 

                After half an hour, the Police return and clear the Saxons from my car.  Shortly afterward, however, the rear cars were changed and we were again traveling together in the same car aboard the Goethe.  Underway, the party began again.  And now there are young women.  Several Saxons are arranging flowers for presentation to their wives, which flowers, and songs, they use to entice women as they enter the brightly illuminated car.  The women accept. 

                Three additional German Policemen arrive.  The Saxons sing Police songs .  The Police huddle around my Passport.  “No surname?”  The Police say “It is not possible.”  A dozen players gather around me and admire my Passport.  Two more Policemen arrive.  More Saxons police songs, hoots and howls.  The Police give up and slam the door to the next car.  The Saxons celebrate with song and dance and hi-5; they slap me on the back and lift me above the crowd.  Ten minutes later two more Policemen arrive.  They check my Passport at length.  The Saxons sing about my Passport.  Louder, LOUDER LOUDER!  The well-armed Police leave us alone. 

                The next stop is home to the Saxons.  Hugs and kisses; deep hugs; family hugs.  I feel fat.  When they are gone, I sit down in disbelief waiting to get underway.  Then I hear fists banging on windows and deep voices chanting “HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!HOO!”  “HOO!HOO!  HOO!HOO!”  “HOO!HOO!” “HOO!HOO!”  “HOO!HOO!”  It’s the Saxons.  They bang on the windows until the Goethe pulls away.  The team is left standing on the platform waving and singing:  “TRA-VEESE!TRA-VEESE!TRA-VEESE!”.  I hear my hearse leaving the station.

                Without delay, the Goethe is once again whistling through dark, cold countryside.  Secretive mountains threaten as the long, black beast climbs deeper and deeper into oblivion.  Mile after endless mile without a groan of humanity; just the white bones of snow banks.  Feeling a poetic interlude coming on, I decide to read instead.

                I settle into reading Analyzing Social Settings:  A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis by John Lofland and Lyn H. Lofland to put me to sleep.  But first I confirm with the conductor that I am on the right train and that we are scheduled to arrive in Prague at 2333.  Before the conductor can respond, a young, male voice answers in English:  “Yes!  We arrive Praha at 2333.”  “And the train is always on time.”  I thank him very much.

                The Goethe pulled into Prague at 2333.  But I met one last person before we arrived.  Danny, the only other passenger in the car, introduced himself one station before “Praha Centrum.”  Danny speaks English with an American accent.  He witnessed the end of my affair with the Saxons and would like to email me back in Chicago.  Danny asks if I need assistance getting to my Praha destination, hotel or travel arrangements?  He confesses that he is embarrassed that he could not afford the time to talk to me on the train.  He is reading for exams at noon, and he charted train time to cover his reading materials.  We agree to meet in cyber space and later to celebrate the successful completion of his exams, maybe in Chicago.