During the train ride home the full implications of the day’s events began to sink in.
Where was Hunter?
The day had started with a good jolt of adventure, eating a Käsekrainer and running through the streets of Vienna to catch our train. Once we had crossed the Hungarian border, Hunter realized he’d left both his Eurail pass and his passport on his dresser in the hotel. He’d told me to have fun for the both of us, so against my better judgment, I rented an inappropriate bathing suit and spent an hour or two exploring the amenities of the largest medicinal baths in Europe.
I’d eaten dinner by myself in a Chinese restaurant with plenty of time to catch a train back home to Vienna.
Now, as the train finally pulled into the Westbahnhof and I took the U-bahn from Reumannplatz to our familiar stop at Südtirolerplatz, I grew more and more anxious.
I may as well have run I was walking so fast. I should have gotten off the train with him. What was I thinking? I was so shocked to see men with guns take him off the train that my thinking was sluggish. What he said had seemed like the best idea until the doors to the train closed in a rush of air. I had abandoned him.
I grabbed the first person I recognized and asked him if he’d Hunter.
“Sure, he’s upstairs in your room.”
I ran up the five flights of stairs and burst through the door.
He was sitting on his bed, looking calm as can be.
He looked up when he heard me and grinned.
“Well, they kept me in some building for a couple of hours. I just journaled the whole time. It really wasn’t bad at all. Then, they put me on a train back to Vienna and gave me this letter.” He showed me the piece of paper, an official-looking document in Hungarian.
He continued: “You know how Anna who works at the front desk is Hungarian? Well, I got her to translate it for me.”
“What’d it say?”
“It said I’m not allowed to go back to Hungary.”
On one glorious day in the fall of 2002, I rented a speedo in Budapest while my best friend of sixteen years was deported and asked never to return.
We both laughed until we cried.
Serious lapses in judgment become some of our best stories.