I asked Lucy from Lucy’smilesaway to write me a ‘short’ story about an interesting transport experience she’s had. In true Lucy style what I got was a long, yet amazing piece. Because of her awesomeness, I will not only allow it, but I will give her an entire segment of Crazy Transport Tales to herself!
A Woman Named Martha
When Crystal first asked me to do this piece, I was struck by how difficult it would be to narrow it down to just one crazy story. I could write about the time in Seattle that I picked up a hitchhiker who had legally changed his name to Nikolas StarCastle OneFeather and survived on a diet of lentils and acid. I could write about the time a Cambodian mother handed me her child on a bus, told me that she was possessed and watched as the child vomited down me. I could tell you about the time that my bus in India broke down and everyone on the bus was made to get off and push it for a good twenty minutes. But instead, I’m going to tell you the story of a woman named Martha.
It was 2013 and I was backpacking around Europe with my brother. We’d just spent a particularly heavy three days in Poland with far too many nights in clubs and nowhere near enough time spent actually sleeping. I was almost delirious with excitement at the prospect of a long train journey to Germany where I could sleep for the entirety of the journey. My brother and I hurried onto the train, bagged our own carriage and hastily spread our stuff around to make it look full. Just as we were drifting off, a female Russian voice snapped us into consciousness.
“Hello. I stay with you? There is degenerate in my carriage”
She was tall, broad and blonde, in her late fifties and wearing a red dress more suitable for a burlesque club than a train and had equal parts lipstick on her teeth and her lips. Before we could respond, she hurried in, gestured at my brother to put away her enormous bags and closed the carriage doors. She looked at me. “You look nice. Nicer than my daughter.” She looked at my brother. “You very handsome. Put my bags up there.”
Being British, we swiftly and politely introduced ourselves and rearranged the carriage so that she could sit down. Just as I was about to explain that we were very tired and would be sleeping for the ride, she jumped up and dashed out of the carriage.
Bewildered but still exhausted, we decided to continue the plan of extended sleeping. Martha, did not share our plan. She returned with three coffees, shook us awake and launched into a speech. “Royal baby born yesterday, eh?” (The future British King, George had just been born). We nodded. “Hmmm… not real baby though. I think maybe gift from government. Government training baby. Spy, you know?” We stared at her as she continued rambling through her theory that none of the royal family were actually related and were instead planted by various secret services.
After about twenty minutes, she switched it up a gear and began her theory that Spiderman was written by the illuminati. “Think about it!” She exclaimed. “It makes sense!”
We were both too shattered and too confused to explain that actually, it made no sense whatsoever. We nodded.
She paused and sighed. “You are nice children” she said. “More interesting than my children. They are so boring.”
The train slowed. She looked up and announced “My stop next stop. You will come and stay with me. You can live in my house. My husband will buy you gifts. You can go to Paris with me. Get my bags”. She snapped her fingers at my brother.
I’ve been invited into a lot of strange situations – but none troubled me more than this one – would we be forced to re-write Spiderman? Would she be starting a rebel group to take down the Royal Family? How on earth was she married?
We hurried her bags off the train for her, said we’d meet her at the front of the station with our stuff and went and hid in another carriage. The train moved out of the station. We never saw Martha again. Probably for the best, to be honest.