Previously: The first, well the only redeeming quality, was his ability to score the best Kazakhstan weed. It was probably its influence that made these “artistic” endeavors seem worthwhile. What the hell else could it be?
And now: What the hell else could it be? Indeed. What could make this worse? A veritable Brueggellian nightmare, that’s what.
I always thought there was more (or less) to Zoltan than met the eye, but I couldn’t put my finger on it though there were too many times I wanted to put my finger squarely in his eye! Not out of any prescient thought on my part, but I never did and am now grateful for that bit of reserve. Ginger informed me that he was going to meet us at the next bus stop and gracefully provide us with our transportation. Probably in one of the last remaining, clapped-out racing Yugos. She also informed me that Zoltan had something else going on the side as well. Why was I not surprised?
The good news is that I would get to leave the acolytes of Amway, the insurance salespeople, and the strange cult-types behind me. The bad news is I’d be riding with Ginger, Zoltan, and who the hell knows what or who else would be joining this not so merry band of pranksters. I hope he had some of that weed. I figured I’d be needing it. If not that, some of the industrial-strength, gut-enflaming booze called Palinka. It looked like water, smelled like the after-waste of some carbon/nuclear plant experiment gone horribly wrong, and tasted, well, let’s just say the description I gave were its good traits. But, a few shots of that and everything was in the past, probably never to be remembered in their entirety.
Thankfully, the next five hours on the bus were spent in relative calm. Ginger had her iPod on listening to Polka versions of Justin Timberlake songs, the Amway folks were quizzing each other on the merits of the newly formulated SA8 soap, and the cult was just gazing out the windows, up at the ceiling, down at the floor, or each other, the floor, mindlessly humming a generic chant from the 20th century. Did I say “thankfully”?
Did you ever wonder where time went? I was thinking just that as the five hours passed way too quickly because we were now making our final bus stop to pick up with Zoltan. Looking out I was gratified to see we would not be engaging in some version of a Yugo demolition derby. No, instead we would be cruising in relative style in a 1975 Cadillac Civil. Yes, Civil. That would be the Iranian version of the American Cadillac Seville. Who knew? Who knew this to be true but it is…look it up.
The Caddy was tarted up in Kazakhstan livery mode which meant it had every conceivable tschotske known to man including multiple air-fresheners which lent a veritable potpourri of wretched scents. It did indeed smell just like it looked. And behind the faux-fur-covered steering wheel, why Zoltan, of course in his faux-sharkskin splendor. Topping off his ensemble was an equally offensive shag felt fedora, favored by pimps in the ’70′s. Oh, this was going to be interesting… if we survived.
Zoltan signaled us all to get in the Caddy. Sitting next to him was his latest heart-throb, Pooch, a 17 year old Balkan wife-for-sale, Lindsay Lohan look-alike, complete with silver-lame shorts and a halter top that couldn’t halt anything even though it was trying. The back seat next to Ginger looked like the safest place for me.
Zoltan, turning around, hands each of us a handgun, saying these were for good luck. I have an aversion to guns of any size, with any predilection for luck of any kind. I started to protest when Zoltan made it clear in no uncertain terms that I was to start packing, and not my bags: we were going to the mall!