I was hitching from Leipzig, Germany to Paris.
He was a French man, a somewhat dirty and unshaven driver, small, shabby and snaggletoothed.
At the French gas station I saw his car in the distance, walked over and simply asked for a ride to Paris. He agreed to give me a ride;
where I needed to pick up my 5 small paintings from an exhibition I had there.
It was October. I was 29 years old and he seemed about the same age.
He spoke broken English, I spoke no French at all.
The day was mild, sunny and blue. It was a warm and comfortable French day. It was a great day to hitch- hike.
The time was around 4:00 pm when I first met him at a gas station somewhere in France. I hopped into his little old dirty car, happy to have finally scored a ride. We drove off onto the main highway.
After some small talk, mainly about me and where I’m from, why I’m here, he reached over my lap and opened the glove compartment.
He pulled out what looked like a bunch of passports.
They were passports. He handed me all 4.
1. The first pretty girl was his girlfriend who died falling off the back of his motorcycle, he said.
2. The second, his girlfriend who died in a car crash, he told me. The third girlfriend died from a brain tumor, and the fourth fell off a horse. He said,
“I’m such an unlucky man!”
I agreed he was “unlucky.” Something was off here.
The uneasiness started then, and only grew as the miles rolled on. He was in possession of 4 young women’s passports.
Soon after showing me the passports, the man said he was taking a short-cut to Paris. It wasn’t really a question to me.
Excellent, I thought, get me outta this car here ASAP.
I assumed we would cut through some French villages on secondary roads. Past houses and farms.
Instead, we turned off onto an implausible dirt road shooting off the main highway.
No. I thought. Not good.
But I kept silent. Why we keep quiet is a mystery, perhaps because of our dumb manners.
At first the road was out in the open, through a field. We drove through some really green French hillsides until we finally reached the oncoming heavy woods up ahead.
The road narrowed.
It grew instantly darker as we entered the forest road and drove in. The interior of the forest was dense, very dense and pine need-ly.
The woods looked like the perfect place to hide something.
It was at this point my French driver shouted,
“I dont wan tu speeekk Ingliss hanymower!”
This was definitely not a request. Then silence…
uncomfortable silence in the darkening forest.
I started to feel a small trickle of adrenaline in my body, my fight or flight soup warming up, coming online.
Communication had now officially ended! Silence.
I pondered this because I knew I would surely have questions as we would get deeper and deeper into the thickening woods. I knew that I wouldn’t ask anything, nothing! It just felt right.
It was now about 5pm and the sun was fading fast. The woods grew darker. Monsieur X seemed so tense and I could tell he was in deep thought. I noticed his lips moving almost imperceptibly. He was rigid, still.
I myself had moved my hand to the car door handle.
A movement I’m sure could not have been missed.
The car was slowing down. I did not say a word.
-the car suddenly stopped-
Did he have a gun?
Was I going to die now?
Those were my first thoughts as I looked over.
All these questions ran through my head…my life was now surreal. This was not my life’s plan.
Maybe I communicated with my captor in some secret way.
Maybe I gave off some kind of male pheromones perceptible only to men facing off.
Fear and crazy and ancient all rolled into some strange perfume. Tense, male sweat and body language.
Maybe women have it too, I don’t know, I’ve never had any reason to experience this before…
I possessed my own life long rage issues and I was not going down without a fight, that I knew. There would be no begging or cries of mercy from me. Not to this fucker.
I also had my own secret cache’ of dark soul.
I was big and strong at that time, and there was no substitute for my nothing-to-lose staring at him.
That is all I gave him.
Something very primitive transpired between us then, I think. Rather quickly.
In a manner of seconds.
It’s a sort of inner calculus as to whether one can overcome, stop, or kill the other guy or not; and all its peripheral considerations, not the least blood, gore, strength and alas – dying. I don’t think these calculations are the same when the victim is small and scared, begging and weak.
I think between those two uneven people it becomes just blood lust, power, panic, scratching and doom,
ancient reptilian human feelings.
With the car now stopped I entered a very strange and new place in myself.
I was transformed, with very little preparation, into a potential killer.
Maybe my crazy chauffeur could read my mind, or my body language, or sense my intent. Or see my hand on his dirty door handle.
It was the moment of truth.
After one hour long icy minute
we suddenly started to speed up and drive on.
Out of the woods.