It is the beginning of another month (more or less) and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (to catch up on the previous installments click on the Ohmygod menu up top). As you will recall, I used to be a cycling tour guide in Europe for several years. Through that job (yes, it is a bit difficult to call it a “job”) I met countless interesting people and have a few compelling stories to tell, but most of them pale to the story of Ohmygod, one of the clients that I had for three weeks. Some may wonder about the moniker, but the name chose itself really; it is what I uttered repeatedly during just about every interaction with him.
In the previous installment (Part Fifty-Six), Dinner at my favorite restaurant in Gent turned out like so many others during the past fortnight: it was a total disaster. Ohmygod had caused a ruckus, which ended in complete chaos and the end of any possible (albeit not yet established) torrid love affair between the head server (Zoë) and me. After dinner, I avoided Brad and Angelina (who had offered up the idea of a ménage à trots with me) like the plague. With a couple of glasses of Vouvray consumed in a wine bar along the river, and Brad and Angelina no where to be seen, I made my escape back to the hotel. I was joined by Maggie, who had grown tired of Adonis ignoring her.
The walk back to the hotel seemed surprisingly quick since Maggie did the navigating, and we were engaged in a rather interesting conversation. We did not talk about Brad and Angelina’s proposition (I did not ask for Maggie’s opinion as I wanted to limit the number of people who knew of it. My theory: the fewer people who knew would increase the chances that it actually had occurred.
Instead we talked about nothing—not in the literal sense, but rather topics that had no connection to one another nor to the previous thought. There was no mention of Ohmygod and only brief mentions of Anita (which provoked an eye roll from Maggie), Paul (less pronounced, but still an eye roll), and Adonis (at which point she thrust her right index finger far into her mouth).
With all of those topics off-limits, the conversation meandered, ebbed, flowed, with close to equal moments of seriousness and levity. It had served to take my mind off of Brad and Angelina (and Ohmygod) for the fifteen minutes that it took us to stroll back to the hotel. As I walked to my room, I pondered whether I had judged Maggie too quickly—she was smart, witty, funny, and fairly attractive.
Then I recalled how crazy she was—had been “dating” her married professor while engaged to her high school boyfriend, and now was all up and down Adonis trying to get him to notice her.
Nope. The original verdict may have been quickly made, but it was correctly adjudicated: Stay Away.
The following morning I woke with a sense of excitement as it was a fairly long day as it involved all three main regions of Belgium. Starting in Flanders, we were first to take a short bike ride to the station in Gent to catch a train to Brussels, and another train to pretty much the middle of Wallonia, followed by about 50 kilometers (30 miles) of riding. It also meant we were leaving the Flemish behind into the welcoming arms of the Walloons, who speak French (thank goodness). Wallonia is also hilly, which while certainly challenging, it would be a welcome departure from the windy Flanders flatlands.
Thus, the group would likely be split up, leaving me plenty of places to “hide” from my now three nemeses.
Our end point for the night was the tiny town of Poix-St-Hubert, which really only has one attraction: our hotel, or more precisely, the restaurant attached to it. It is by far the best restaurant in the region, an admittedly low bar, but it really is a gem with both a fantastic beer menu and a great wine list. The “town” only consists of a few buildings and the restaurant is the only source of “night life” for several kilometers.
Then it hit me.
With absolutely nothing else around, it would be close to impossible to avoid Brad and Angelina for another night. I had roughly ten hours before me to formulate a response that both conveyed my complete lack of desire to partake in any sort of sexual encounter with them (just writing that made me throw up a little bit in my mouth), but did not shut the door entirely for Brad to experience what he had anticipated this trip would be for him.
Ten hours? Not sure I could accomplish that feat in ten life times.
My more immediate concern, though, was facing them at breakfast. I was certain that Brad would feel as if I had avoided the situation all night, culminating in my disappearance. He would be right to feel that way, though, since that is precisely what happened.
There was also the stress associated with the day itself.
As a trip coordinator my job was to handle logistics, pay for dinner and hotels, make sure the bikes were in working order. It did not include waking them up in the morning or cracking a whip to maintain any schedule—they were on vacation, after all, and, theoretically, adults.
But today was not really an “ordinary” day. Before 9:00, there were trains pretty much every ten minutes heading to Brussels, with virtually all of them accepting bikes. After 9:00, the trains were half as frequent, and only one in three would allow bikes aboard legally. Thus, unless everyone was on the road by 9:00 at the latest, it was probable that the stragglers would arrive at the hotel after nightfall.
Adding to the issue was the fact that the kitchen in that night’s restaurant only stayed open until 9:00 p.m. and if anyone arrived after that time, they would be relegated to chips and peanuts in the bar (which stays open as long as there are people buying drinks). Thus, not being on the Gent-Brussels train by 9:00 a.m. greatly increased the odds of having Pringles and Goldfish for dinner.
At 8:00 a.m., after packing, I descended to the breakfast room to see who, if any, had heeded my directive the night before that anything resembling a late start would result in a day with a rather rushed agenda. There I found Paul, Maggie, Anita, and Adonis in mid-feast, all dressed in lycra, clearly ready for an imminent departure.
That left Brad, Angelina, and Ohmygod.
I went to the front desk and called Ohmygod first since he likely would need the most time to get his smelly carcass out on the road. No answer. I thought for a moment that he might be in the shower, but then I came to my senses. He was either passed out after doing his darnedest to drink every last Canadian beer in Gent or he was in jail. I secretly hoped for the latter as then he would be someone else’s problem.
Keep that room in hell open for me.
I then called Brad and Angelina’s room. No answer. I again thought that the local police might be involved, but in this scenario I would have to go into the police station to provide evidence that whichever one was accused of killing the other was most certainly guilty.
As I hung up the phone, I decided to take a more positive approach and assume that they were all three already out on the road, maybe already on a train to Brussels. So before going to their respective crime scenes, er, rooms, I checked to see if their bikes were still in the hotel garage. Brad and Angelina’s tandem was easy to spot, but after some counting, Ohmygod’s bike was indeed missing.
Now this did not mean that he was already en route to Poix, not at all. He could have once again taken his bike with him to his room for some reason I would rather not entertain, crashed his bike into the river, or traded it for a four-pack of Labatt’s.
I knocked on Ohmygod’s door. No answer. I tried again. Same result. After waiting a third time, I went back to the front desk and explained the situation. When I told them whose room I needed to open, the clerk shook his head, rolled his eyes, and muttered something in Flemish. I am fairly certain it was “Oh my god.”
Given my previous experiences with Ohmygod’s room, I took a long pause to assess whether I really wanted to open the door. I really had no idea what I would find. Realizing that the only thing worse than dealing with Ohmygod in person is potentially trying to communicate with him over the phone (although the second scenario did have the benefit of being odor-free).
I opened the door.
There was very little indication that the room had been used at all. As far as I could tell, there were no objects in the room that were not there before we arrived in Gent. In fact, the only clue that someone had been in the room since the maid had last readied it was the wrinkled bedspread, suggesting that someone had slept on top of the made bed. Clearly, that person had been Ohmygod since the wrinkles in the blanket were accentuated by a stain, reminiscent of a police outline or the Shroud of Turin.
And there was the stench.
Yes, Ohmygod had been there, I had no doubt.
Assuming he had actually left early for the train (which I know was a dangerous assumption), I headed back to the front desk to approach Brad and Angelina’s room in the same manner.
Once again I paused at the door, imagining the possibilities. Angelina, angered by Brad not coming through on her desire for a ménage-à-trois, could have left in a huff, making Brad pay for a first class trip back to the US. Inside I would find Brad, hunched over on the bed, clutching and occasionally sniffing, a dirty sock that Angelina had overlooked in her haste to leave.
Or, there could be a lifeless corpse in a heap on the floor, with a nearly unrecognizable bike pump, having been twisted and bent from the repeated body blows, beside the lifeless body. I wondered for a moment if a bike pump had ever been used as a murder weapon—if not, perhaps this would result in some notoriety for the company—all press is good press, right?
Those were really the only two possibilities that occurred to me, and I was not certain which of the two scenarios I would rather encounter.
Well, there was a third possibility, evidently.
As with Ohmygod’s door, I rapped my knuckles forcefully (but not violently) on the door. Once again, there was no response. Thus, I knocked again, a little more forcefully as I have seen countless television and movie cops perform over the years. With every second of silence, I became more convinced that the authorities were likely going to need to be engaged.
Finally, I heard a bit of rustling and a brief whimper. As I moved the key card that I procured at to front desk to the sensor, bracing for what I was about to see (I get queasy at even the hint of blood—heck even ketchup makes me nauseous), the door opened, but the safety latch was engaged, so it only opened a few centimeters.
There, in the crack of the door, stood, from what I could tell, a completely naked Brad. Instead of surmising the obvious, I continued to think that there had been violence and Brad was a deranged necropheliac.
Alarmed, I blurted out. “What the hell is going on in there?”
Brad immediately turned a rather deep shade of red and I heard a snigger from inside the room—surprisingly similar to the whimper I thought I had heard while knocking at the door.
“Um, well, we are just having a bit of fun in here” Brad replied with a hard wink. He also asked what time checkout was, and after I told him 12:00, he quickly said “Fine, we will be in here until then” and quickly shut the door.
I stood there for another moment or two, not sure if I should require a verbal interaction with Angelina before leaving.
In hindsight I should have just left, for the sounds that I clearly heard through the door in the moment or two that I froze, one can not un-hear.