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Trapped In The Tatras

"Is he actually walking out the door?" My cousin asks as I look outside the window. I carelessly dismiss his silly question, but  then something grabs my attention: The same man who walked out is now locking the main door....from the outside!  He cavalierly throws a cigarette butt to the ground and disappears into the night.  He
seemed to walk away with an eerie swagger. I ran down the stairs with my cousin and it was true: We were locked in!

     How could this happen?  This bizarre thing was not supposed to happen. We were on a trip to the majestic High Tatras mountains.  We were carefree and excited to be travelling to one of the wonders of the world. I have always had a love affair with the high Tatras.  There is something peculiarly sacred, and imposing about those neolithic structures.

   As we approached the hotel, we stopped at a supermarket to buy some orange juice, vodka, ice, and some other snacks.  We stocked up on the ice, buying out the entire shelf.  It was a historically hot summer; almost brutal heat. It was the kind of heat where you struggle just to breathe. Not even the so called "fresh mountain air" could relieve that stifling heat. Nonetheless, we were looking forward to a night of drinking, laughing, and having some good ol' sophomoric fun.

    So OK... why?  Why the heck did this weird guy lock us in from the outside. An even bigger question is why didn't we just ask someone about it? I don't really know why we didn't.  Instead, I hit the screwdrivers. I drank myself out of  the trauma about being locked in.  I felt like a bird in a cage. I drank to ease my uneasy mind.  After a few screwdrivers I felt great. I was clumsily invincible. "We are trapped in some remote mountain hotel?"  Who cares.  I laughed and I danced.  I jokingly screamed out the window for anyone to rescue us, but I wasn't really afraid anymore. I was numb. No one responded to my scream anyway, well except maybe the owls whoo-oo-hing back to my drunken outbursts.  It didn't matter. Lady alcohol did her magic. I was okay, I was one with the mountains.

   Sadly, as the screwdriver effects started to wear off, we entertained all the alarmist thoughts of being trapped in this hillside jail.  We drummed up all kinds of fiery scenarios that usually ended with Norman Bates waltzing down the hall at any minute to slice us to bits. At some point I guess we finished catastrophizing and drifted off to sleep.

   I awoke the next morning with an ugly headache around 8 am.  As I squinted to look out the sun drenched window, lo and behold there was the creepy man unlocking the outside door and walking back in. We were free! We had survived the night.  We weren't burned alive! Better still we heard other voices in the hallway.  There were other people besides us who were also locked in.  Relief was an understatement. It was time to check out of this death trap. I took my scant belongings and walked down the hallway. I noticed the drab, communist chic design of the hotel.  The walls were a combination of bright orange and military green. The floors were gray.  Stalin must have stayed here at some point. I made my way to the lobby and checked the door locks to make sure that the doors were indeed open.  We briskly walked out the door and headed for the hot box with wheels that was our car. We never looked back.

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