M was in Innsbruck, which is beautiful in snow and rich; the advent markets there are fancy and bookstores plush but the mountains around it are high and somewhat overbearing, and the hotel was a dump. His wifi barely worked. He befriended two silverfish in the bathroom. He named them Gregor1 and Gregor2.
Then it was decided that his little group would drive back to Vienna in the middle of the night, in the snow, which was crazy. But doing crazy things, he discovered, can launch you into an alternate universe. It did that night, he saw unusual things like rows of trucks stopped to put on chains, or whole flocks of them sleeping in rest stops and gas stations until the storm passed; or maybe they do that every night. And German police asked them for identification, M’s little group, and advised against eating at that truck stop and M wondered why. Was the food bad? The service? The clientele?
And M slept a little, and the others, except for the driver, and they arrived at 2.30 in the morning and he finally got to sleep at 4 and woke up in the wrong universe and he’s still trying to figure it out. Everything is pretty much the same, but only pretty much.
His daughter’s street flows with whiskey. Or smells like it at least.
His other daughter is a little bit funnier than before. Driving into town, he tells her about a friend’s trepidation at bathing in a spa said to have special curative powers for gynecological diseases. Gamma says, the waters supposed to cure diarrhea are probably pretty bad, too.
M thinks he has all his Christmas presents in time this year. Definitely the wrong universe.