Ticket to Holland

December 1st, 2009
I decided that I did not want to take the plane. I’m really not sure why I agreed to take a month and a half off of work anyway. I keep trying to convince myself that it’s because need a break, and a change of scenery, so that’s why I decided to take this trip. But it could also be because I can never say no to my mother when she gives me her famous guilt trip. Or maybe because I haven’t seen any of my cousins, aunts, or uncles since I was twelve. But whatever the reason is, somehow I have left my amazing apartment in Chicago, and my job at the newspaper to go to Holland with my parents to spend time with my family over the holidays. Merry Christmas to me.
My parents and I left the Chicago airport and landed in France. And we were supposed to have a connecting flight to Holland, but I decided that I wanted to take a train alone the rest of the way. My reasoning to my mother was that I wanted to see the countryside that I wouldn’t be able to see in a plane, and maybe I could write an article about it for the paper. Thank goodness she bought it because I could not stand one more minute of her yapping on another flight. I am glad I made that decision too because I am going to have zero alone time when we get to Holland.
“Here is your seat sir.” A young waiter working on the train showed another man to the seat right next to me.
“Why thank you.” I was very surprised to hear that this man did not have a European accent, but a very American one. He was very tall with straight, dark blonde hair that hung just above his eyes. His eyes were a stunning shade of green, and he had an artist style. His jeans had a few paint stains on them and his long sleeve shirt hung to his body, showing off all of his muscles. He had on a few hemp bracelets, and he carried a sketch pad with a few pencils. And he smelled so, so good; kind of like one of those colognes that you would smell while walking by Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister. Before the waiter walked away, I ordered another cup of coffee. Medium Roast with two creams, two sugars, and hint of hazelnut (My addiction).
“Hi, my name is Brody.” He sat with his hand out to shake mine
“H-hi, I am Collette.” Collette? Why did I introduce myself as Collette, I hate when people call me that.
“It’s very nice to meet you Collette.”
“It’s nice to meet you too.”
“I haven’t heard an American accent in a while, where are you from?” Is he still talking to me? Why would he be doing a thing like that?
“Well I am originally from Ohio, but I live in Chicago now.” Why would he care that I am from Ohio? He doesn’t care.
“No way! I live in Chicago! I mean I have been in Europe for the last month, but that is so cool. What do you do?” I think I have found my soul mate.

“I am a writer for the Chicago Daily News, but I am on my way to Holland to visit family for the holidays. Why have you been in Europe for the past month?” He tossed his hair to the side and I caught another smell of his cologne. Ah he smelled so good.

“Well I am an artist, and I have been just traveling trying to get some inspiration”

“Have you found any?”
“Well I have painted and drawn a lot of scenery and things like that but I would like to focus more on interesting people. That’s why I came here and I am having trouble finding it.” We sat and talked for the next few hours about our lives and random things about ourselves and I couldn’t help but just be in awe of him. He is gorgeous, funny, and smart; and he had an incredible voice that just captivated me. He is 26, and he lives in an apartment 7 blocks away from me. I can’t believe that this amazing guy lives so close to me and I have never noticed him before. But it’s not like he would have ever noticed me anyway.
We sat and ate mediocre train food and drank coffee together while the amazing French country side went by. It was covered in soft, white blankets of snow; and there were tall trees, all with frozen ice hanging off of them. There were huge tall mountains that showed the setting sun behind them, making the sky different shades of orange and pink. We could occasionally see a small rabbit or fox go by, and then disappear into the sea of snow.
Our conversation soon started to change to our Irish waiter named Erik. I had noticed him when I first got on the train, and Brody and I had started observing him. He was a very interesting character. He was very tall and skinny, and he somewhat smelled of alcohol. He always seemed very nervous, and he was constantly scanning the room as if he was looking for someone. He had bright, fire truck, red hair, that was obviously recently died; and he had a very large snake tattoo starting from his collar bone and going all the way up to his ear. It made him look very mysterious; like he was hiding something. He made me very nervous and curious at the same time.

It was starting to get late, so I asked Brody to walk me to my room. We talked the whole way there and he stopped me at my door.
“I had fun today, Collette.”
“You can call me Colle,” I responded, “But so did I, it was really nice hanging out with you.” I smiled up at him.
“Okay Colle, I guess I will see you in the morning.” He grabbed my hand and gave it a light kiss.
“I sure hope so.” I responded. He winked at me and I watched him walk away and I thought I was going to pass out. I could barely sleep at all that night; all I could think about was Brody and his beautiful green eyes.

I woke the next morning, and ran around the room, trying to get ready as fast as possible so I could try to run into him again. I opened my door to walk down to the café, and Brody was already standing outside my door. He was waiting for me with two cups of coffee in his hands. He held the one in his right hand out to me.
“Medium roast with two creams, two sugars, and a hint of hazelnut.” He said with a smile, even more beautiful than what I remembered.
“You remembered my order.”
“Of course, I listened to everything that you said yesterday.” I smiled and he took my hand, and we walked into the café together and sat down. Erik, the waiter from yesterday, came to us and took our breakfast order.
“So Colle, how would I look if I got a huge snake tattoo on my neck like Erik?” Brody mocked and flashed his amazing smile.
“Even better with bright red hair, to go with it.” I replied with a giggle
“You have a really pretty smile, I like it.” Said Brody.
“Wow,” I was shocked that he thought so, “Thank you Brody.”
“Don’t thank me; you’re a very beautiful girl.” I couldn’t believe that he was saying these things to me. I was flattered and embarrassed at the same time.
“Remember how I told you yesterday that I wanted to paint more interesting people?” he asked me.
“Of course.”
“Do you think I could paint a portrait of you sometime?”
“Why would you want to do that?” I said with a laugh.
“Because you are the most interesting, and beautiful, person that I have met on this entire trip so far,” I listened to him in disbelief, and I think I have fallen in love; “You have gorgeous blue eyes, and shiny long brown hair. I think your glasses look adorable on you and your smile is contagious.” I didn’t really know how to respond to that.

After talking a little while longer, I excused myself to go to the bathroom, because well, I had already drank three coffees this morning. I stood and looked in the mirror and I didn’t really understand how a guy like him could call a girl like me beautiful, and I couldn’t even fathom why he would want to paint a portrait of me. I always thought I was pretty average. I thought my long brown hair is pretty boring, and my blue eyes aren’t anything special; I’m usually somewhat pale and I think I look like a dork with my glasses on. So I shook my head in disapproval and walked out the bathroom. But I slowed when I started to overhear a conversation between our waiter, Erik, and another waiter.
“You can’t keep running Erik. You know they are gonna find you, it doesn’t matter where you go or what color you dye your hair.” The other waiter said in a hush tone
“I’m aware of this Patrick, but if I settle somewhere, I would be just waiting for them to find me. This way, I can run and stay under the radar.” Erik replied
“There is no running from this. You aren’t dealing with the police or the government. This is the Polish Mafia; hunting down people is what they do for a living.” I was shocked. I didn’t know that Poland had a Mafia.
“If I stay on the move, and around people, they would be less likely to make a scene.”
“Do whatever you want Erik, all I’m saying is that you’re in trouble with them and you need to hide. You need to go to a different continent and attempt to start a new life. And maybe they will leave you alone.” Erik angrily picked up a plate and left. I tried to walk casually back to my table, but it was more of an excited hop; I couldn’t wait to tell Brody what I had heard.
“I was wondering what took you so long.”
“Shh. I have a story.” I was so excited I didn’t know how what to tell him first.
“Okay let me hear it.” Said Brody ready to listen.
“Erik is in trouble with the Polish Mafia.” I blurted out.
“Hmmm… say again?”
“Erik is in trouble with the Polish mafia.” I repeated. He took a moment to think about what I had just said.
“Are you talking about Erik, our waiter with the creepy tattoo?”
“Yes that’s the one.”
“No way!” He said excitedly, “I didn’t know Poland had a Mafia.”
“I know right! I heard him and this other Irish waiter talking on the way back from the bathroom. Apparently, Erik has been on the run for a while, and that is not his natural hair color.”
“That is so cool, what did he do?”
“I’m not sure. They didn’t say what he did.” So we sat there thinking of the different possibilities for why he could be in trouble. Ranging anywhere from owing them money, to dumping the Mob Boss’s daughter. We kept watching Erik move around the room like a scared mouse until he disappeared into a back room. And just as he did, three huge men, from different seats in the room, stood up all at the same time. They were all in grey suits and they towered above everyone else who was standing in the room. They all had matching rings on their middle fingers, and they all looked extremely strong. They all walked together into the back room that Erik had disappeared into just moments before, while one stayed behind and guarded the door. My gaze changed to Patrick, the other waiter, he just stood there in disbelief. He was shaking so much that I thought he was going to drop the plate he was holding. But instead he just darted off into the kitchen
“Did you see that!?” Brody exclaimed
“Yes I did, but could that really be the Polish Mafia? Here? On this train? I mean, we are not exactly close to Poland.” We waited and watched the door, hoping that Erik would return from the other side, unharmed. But he never did. The train kept moving and everyone else just sat and minded their own business, as if nothing was happening.
Brody tried comforting me, by holding my hand and tried changing the subject until the train started to move slower and we neared the Holland train station. We both grabbed our belongings and walked off the train together. Once we got off we saw Erik, with hat on his head, being escorted by the three huge men towards the exit, and into a dark car.
“I don’t think we are ever going to see him again.” Said Brody
“I don’t think so either.” I replied. I looked at him with some sadness because I didn’t want to say goodbye to him. I only met him two days ago, but I felt a strange connection to him; and I didn’t want that feeling to end, because I have never felt that before. He took my hand and looked into my eyes and smiled.
“I don’t want to leave you Colle.” He said before I got the chance to. “I have had the most amazing time with you, and I haven’t even gotten to paint a portrait of you yet.”
“Then don’t.” I replied. I think my heart had skipped a beat; I wanted to be with him so bad.
“What do we do?” he asked.
“Come with me and stay with my family. They would be ecstatic; they keep asking me why I am 25 years old and don’t have a boyfriend.” I smiled up at him.
“Well won’t they be happy when they see me then.”

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