The funicular jerked to a stop between stations. Nothing here but the steep, heavily forested slope of the mountain, deep in the Swiss Alps.
“Is this usual?” I asked the woman across the aisle. She looked like she might speak English, my Switzerdeutsch being rudimentary. Her Nikes, the cut of her blue jeans, and her tight sweater pointed to her possibly being American.
When she turned to answer, I fell into her baby blues. A cloud flitted across the sun, revealing a double rainbow in the window behind her, framing her dainty face surrounded by a mass of tousled blonde hair.
“Not usual, but not unusual,” she answered, with a trace of huskiness, then turned back to the view, apparently uninterested in me.
When we got out at the top of the mountain, she headed for the restaurant. I stood alone, buffeted by the brisk wind swirling the tall meadow grass and the delicate yellow flowers beside the path. We were both here alone, about the same age, two attractive foreigners. She could at least be friendly. I shifted my backpack onto my shoulder and trudged after her.
I’d been camping out for a month, “sleeping rough,” some Brits had called it in Austria. Maybe I needed to clean up a little before she’d be interested in me. I headed for the men’s room and checked my reflection. Not bad. Someone occupied the lone stall, but I didn’t need it at the moment.
Outside the john, I stopped to fish my wallet out of my backpack.
“Excuse me,” said a low voice from behind that thrilled my insides.
I whirled around. The hallway was dark, but I could tell it was her coming out of the men’s room.
What gives? I wondered. She brushed past without a glance. If she was a she. Intriguing.
The waiter led me to a table overlooking a pasture dotted with grazing cows. The scene calmed me. I took a draw from the tall stein of dark ale that came with my bread and cheese.
“Is this seat taken?”
She hovered above the chair–warming up to me?
The “woman” fascinated me. She looked at me from under thick lashes and graced me with the trace of a smile. “Vous etes americain?”
“Yep,” I answered. “You?”
“I lived there for some years.” She switched to English. I was grateful. My French was no better than my Deutsch.
She waved the waiter over and ordered. My pulse quickened when our eyes met over the rims of the steins. We made small talk–where we’d been, what we’d seen. She was bumming around Europe, too. I was due at college in a couple weeks, but she didn’t mention a deadline.
She finished off her ale and seemed to make a decision. She asked, “So, are you my type?”
“I might be.”
“How shall we find out?” Her voice got lower, huskier.
“Good question. I don’t have a place in town. I was planning on the hostel tonight.”
“I have a place.” She batted those fabulous eyelashes.
I was ready. “When’s the next train?”
“The funicular runs every hour. Should be here in just a few minutes.”
She paid for the drinks. We didn’t speak on our way down the mountain. She exited the car in front of me and tossed instructions over her shoulder. “Follow me.”
Feeling like a dog at heel, I walked behind her through the narrow streets until she turned to a doorway flush with the sidewalk and opened the door with an old fashioned brass key.
The carpeting on the steps might have been red once. She led me to the third story and into a sparse one-room apartment with a neatly made bed pushed up under the one window.
She turned and faced me. “Well?”
“Well,” I said. This was the moment we’d both find out if I was her type.
She stripped off her sweater, flashing a moderately hairy chest. “Your turn.”
I slipped my backpack to the wooden floor and took off my thick vest, then slowly unbuttoned my shirt. I wasn’t wearing a bra, but she could see what I was.
She wasn’t a “she,” but then, I wasn’t a “he” either. We laughed for just a moment.
We got along fine. I was her type. She was mine. At least for the night.
The next morning, she was gone. So was my wallet.
Kaye George is the bestselling, award-winning author of: Imogene Duckworthy mysteries, Cressa Carraway Musical mysteries, People of the Wind mysteries, and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat cozies. Her short stories appear various places and in her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. She lives in Knoxville, TN.
Copyright © 2016 Kaye George. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.