The early morning hours found us huffing our packs across the footbridges of Venice’s canals. We had an early AM train ride and the city was dead; just the way we liked it. The sun peeked above the horizon in a splash of color as we boarded the train bound for Milan. We picked out seats in the last car and threw down our bags. Still half asleep, we sat silently staring out the window. Five minutes went by and the train hadn’t moved yet. Glenna pulled out a package of olives we had bought the previous day… our breakfast. The olives were coated in oil, so she got up and headed to the bathroom behind us to dump out the juice. Meanwhile, I slumped against the window and listened to the groan of the train as it pulled out of the station destined for Milan! Glenna didn’t return immediately, but I dozed for a bit unfazed. She was probably having a stomach issue or something.
The train rattled along the tracks for another 20 minutes or so before I started thinking maybe there was something wrong. I got up, moved to the bathroom, saw that it was occupied, and sat back down. Ten minutes later, I repeated the actions, this time knocking on the door: “Glenna, are you okay?” A raspy voice responded in Italian… definitely NOT Glenna. I sat back down, a weird feeling creeping into my gut. Where did she go? In an effort to convince myself nothing was wrong, I decided she had walked past me when I was snoozing and she was, for whatever reason, in another car. I put some music on, trying to think of anything else.
Another 20 minutes went by. I couldn’t sit any longer. Trying to act normal, I sped through the train, car by car, scanning left to right. Every time I saw long, brown hair my heart skipped a beat, only to get closer and realize it wasn’t her. To my horror, I made it to the end of the car with no luck. Walking slowly back, I kept hoping I had missed something. When I reached my seat again, it really hit me…
MY GIRLFRIEND WAS GONE!
Inside Glenna’s pack was her passport, wallet, and money. She had also lost her phone a couple of weeks back so she was literally empty-handed. My head started spinning with a million ideas at once. I pictured her stuffed in the back of a van, blindfolded and tied up. Bloody and broken, I saw her lying in a ditch somewhere victim to a senseless attack. I heard her sobbing, I saw her crying, I felt her fear. Worst of all, I saw myself standing at the door to her house, meeting her parents for the first time, informing them their daughter was missing. Telling them how I had failed her and, subsequently, them. It is sheer terror what your mind can make up in the unknown.
And so I sat, for the longest 2 hours of my life, tapping my feet, twiddling my thumbs, and terrorizing myself with horrible thoughts. When the train pulled into Milan, I threw my pack on my back, Glenna’s on the front and exited the car. I found a spot at the end of the platform and plopped on the ground. Scanning the departing passengers, I hoped beyond hope that this was some sort of evil joke and Glenna would come bounding out the train. Instead, everyone eventually cleared and I was left staring at an empty platform. Then the worst thing happened… the train pulled away the other direction and left. Glenna was nowhere to be found. The creeping thought that had been eating away at me for quite some time was now a reality…
MY GIRLFRIEND WAS TAKEN!!!
In the original Taken movie, Liam Neeson’s daughter is kidnapped on a trip in Europe. Neeson threatens the kidnappers with a memorable quote that, just now, ran through my head:
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. What I do have are a particular set of skills. […] Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go no, that will be the end of it. […] But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you!”
The kidnappers ignore him and, in true Hollywood fashion, he goes on to kick some serious ass, getting his daughter back in the process.
Unfortunately, I am not Liam Neeson and I do not have any ass-kicking skills.
I was absolutely lost.
I circled the enormous station a few times, trying to gather my thoughts, but all I kept thinking was “This is a fuckin’ joke, this can’t be real!” With no other idea, I dashed to the taxi stand and got in the first available cab. Upon my request, he took me to the U.S. Embassy. A line had formed on the outside of a glass door. As I approached, the security guard asked me what was wrong. I told him I needed to talk to someone, I told him my girlfriend had disappeared. He asked me to put the packs away from the building and ushered me to an outside intercom. With 10 people behind me listening on, I repeated the story. Midway through, I finally broke down.
The embassy man’s response was very nonchalant. He asked me if she had plans of her own or if she had gotten off at the wrong stop by mistake. When I ASSURED him Glenna was not so dumb to get OFF the train, he stated there was not much to be done at this point because a missing person’s report couldn’t be filed until 72 hours later. Mostly, though, the man was overly concerned with the packs. Upon their assistance, I moved the packs to a neighboring restaurant and headed back to the embassy. I was told to wait for 15 minutes until I could see someone and explain more in person. In sad, soppy, pathetic fashion, I plopped on a stone ledge and stared at the ground. THIS WAS NOT HAPPENING. Then my phone rang…
“I got off the train in Venice to dump the olive juice and the doors locked me out. I’m at the Police Station inside Milan Central Station.”
An immediate wave of relief flooded over me. I went back to the intercom, explained that she was safe, got our packs, and rode the metro back to Milano Centrale. For 10 frustrating minutes I raced around trying to follow the confusing police signs. With some help, I found the station and found Glenna. I cried again. It was one of the happiest moments of the entire trip.
We had two hours to kill until our next train, so we devoured our weight in McChickens and fries. An entire bottle of Limoncello helped wash the stress away. Tipsy and happy, we caught the train to Lake Como and continued on our merry way.
It was good to know Glenna was alive and well.
Liam Neeson would not be needed!