Roni's Party

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“We wouldn’t mind a lift to the S-Bahn.” Roni allowed giving me a hug.

“No probs, I get a few more minutes with gorgeous here.”

Yuck — I think? He is kind of cute if a lad who stands nearly twenty centimeters taller than me can be cute? Anyway, I’m not interested in boys am I, I am a boy - I think?

Roni's Party
- a Gabysode

by Maddy Bell

Copyright © 2009 Maddy Bell

 
"When?"

"Tonight, I did say Drew." Roni sighed.

It was true, she had been on about her birthday party for weeks and as usual he'd forgotten all about it.

"Okay already, I’ll be there alright."

"Brill, so about seven."

"Seven." he confirmed.

"Tschuss."

"Tschuss." he closed his phone and let out a sigh.

"What’s up kiddo?" Mum enquired.

"Roni's birthday party, I said I’d go."

"So what's the problem?"

"Well its tonight, I kinda forgot about it."

"You don't get any better."

"I don't suppose...."

"You know your Dad an' me are going to Mainz."

They’d been planning the day for weeks, a rare no bike, no kids outing for the pair of them.

"Guess I’ll catch the train then."

"If you're ready when we go you can have a lift to Remagen." she offered.

"Cool!"

"And don't forget something to wear when you get there." somehow she doubted he was listening at that stage.

"See you later." Dad called after him as he jumped out of the car.

"I’ll ring when I get there."

"Have a good time luv and give Roni our regards."

"Will do, byeee."

He hoisted his fleece and set off into the station. The bad news, for his wallet was that he had to buy a ticket, his VRS pass would get him as far as Ká¶ln but Mettmann is in the VRR area. A few press' of the screen and he was the proud possessor of a student NRW day pass, and his wallet ten euros lighter.

The Rhine Express pulled in and he joined the Christmas shoppers who piled onto the train. The train was packed, no free seats anywhere so he found a little corner at the top of the stairs and made himself comfortable - ish. At least he didn't need to change trains until Dusseldorf, he got a seat at Bonn, most of the shoppers decamped there, a degree of comfort for the next hour at least.

"Die ná¤chste halt ist Dá¼sseldorf Hauptbahnhof, exit rechts."

He joined the press of humanity departing the train and it was only then, seeing a woman laden with a case and bag of wrapped parcels that his brain fully engaged.

"Bum!"

His sudden outburst got him a few looks from other passengers but he was taking no notice. He’d messed up big time; no present for Roni and no idea what to get either. The station clock read two o’clock; at least the shops are still open. A quick check of the wallet, yup a few euros and my bankcard, my train ticket is good for the local transport too so let’s get out there.

Of course I haven’t a clue where to go but a tram towards Altstadt seemed like a good bet so I scrambled on board and found a seat. It was only a couple of stops until I reached FriedrichstraáŸe, the on board announcement said to get off here for the Altstadt so I did. Hmm but which way? I crossed the road to where I could see some shops; ooh is that a model shop over there?

It was and a pretty damned good one too. I drooled over the cabinets of model cars and departed the shop the proud owner of four new models to add to my burgeoning collection. The other thing I left with was instructions to reach the main shopping area; I’d been heading the wrong direction after all.

I hadn’t got a clue what I was looking for as I wandered around the shops. Nothing caught my eye, well nothing that with my budget I was gonna buy! I drifted along amongst the Christmas shoppers and Weihnachtsmarkt stalls and eventually emerged opposite the Galleria. Well it wasn’t my first choice but I was starting to get desperate so I crossed over and was about to go inside when I spotted a sign for Thalia, the bookstore. Why didn’t I think of that before, Ron’s been on about getting ‘Black Cat’ for months.

It didn’t take long or a rocket scientist to find the ‘comic’ section once I’d made my way through the Christmas shoppers and up three escalators. The biggest problem with manga is the length of some of the stories, twenty plus books is quite common so rather than try to get a whole series, (they didn’t have volume three of BC anyway,) I decided to get half a dozen assorted first parts. Black Cat of course but I thought she’d enjoy Ouran Host Club, Peach Girl, Vampire Doll, Negima and Instant Teen too. I got myself the latest Chibi Vampire too; I can read it on the train home.

One thing I really like is the gift service a lot of stores offer so Roni’s gift was even wrapped in some Hello Kitty paper! It was still quite early; the sun was even poking its head out from time to time so I decided to have a quick wander round the nearby Weihnachtsmarkt.

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The smell of sausages reminded me that I’d not had any lunch so I located the source and purchased the instant feast that is ‘currywurst mit pommes und mayo’, yum! I found a spot at one of the nearby tables and was soon making short work of my sausage and chips. The biggest problem with this culinary delight is that it can be messy, that big dollop of mayo and all that paprika sauce is a recipe for disaster. Well it wasn’t that bad but bright red curry sauce has a tendency to stain, especially expensive Chiemsee fleeces!

I’ll live and it’ll come out in the wash. I wandered around a bit more after buying a mug of hot chocolate to wash down the wurst. So of course some idiot foreigner, I think they were French, walked straight in to me. I avoided adding to my collection on the jacket, but a nice brown slop landed clear on my thigh. I could hear mum now, ‘and don't forget something to wear when you get there.’ And who only had what he was standing up in? Now I’m up the creek so to speak, my poor bank account looks like taking another hit.

There was an arcade that I passed on the way to the market so I headed there; surely I can buy some jeans in there. Well like of course I could, if I wanted to spend like a hundred Euros — not likely! After getting the same result in the latest store, the strangely named ‘mister lady’, I was about to give up when I spotted a rack proclaiming ‘Reduziert %’, aha, the sale rail.

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Well, it was cheap, no not jeans but a dress, like why are they selling off party frocks before Christmas. Look it was like fifteen euros, hose and shoes another twenty and the jacket was a snip at twenty-five. I can borrow a bit of slap from Roni and hey presto one party outfit for under the price of a pair of jeans. So okay it’ll be Gaby not Drew at the party but none of Roni’s friends know me so frugality wins.

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Time was by now getting on a bit so I set off for the Hauptbahnhof at a reasonable gallop. I still needed to actually change but I was pulled up short outside of one of those upscale hairdressers. Jules? I looked at the poster again it couldn’t be could it? I haven’t seen her for a few weeks, she’s at Uni in Bonn but the girl in the picture looked like her twin except for the blonde wedge of hair on her head, last time I saw my sister she was still all Gothy. I looked closer, it is Jules, that’s the mole on her neck, kewl, and she looks a right babe!

I took a picture on my phone to show Roni later then hustled along to the railway station. Hmm, I should change here really I guess.

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Ten minutes later I was stuffing my mucky jeans and jacket — well okay all my boy togs into a locker. I didn’t have a proper bag, just a clear plastic carrier from the shop so as I would be coming this way again in the morning — well it makes sense not to cart it all about. I’m glad I bought the coat; it was getting quite cold by the time I got onto the platform to wait for the S-Bahn to Mettmann.

It runs every twenty minutes and my destination is the end of the line so at least I couldn’t get lost. The white and red Regio Bahn sprinter pulled in to the platform and I joined the crush. I got a seat; apart from the colour it was the same as the Ahr Express back home.

“Tickets!”

I retrieved the bit of card I bought earlier and when the conductor, a bloke with an outrageous moustache decorating his top lip, got to me I proudly passed him my student id and ticket.

“This isn’t valid.”

“Eh?”

“The ticket, it’s not validated.”

“I only bought it this morning, honest.” I started to panic a bit; they can be quite harsh on fare dodgers.

“I can see that fraulein but you should have filled your name in.”

“I’ve never bought one of these before, I didn’t know you had to, can I do it now?”

“Well…”

“Please?” I whimpered.

“Okay.” He agreed, sometimes wearing a frock has its advantages.

“Um can I borrow a pen?”

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‘Die ná¤chste halt ist Mettmann S-Bahnhof, die zug endet hier.’

I did my coat up and gathered my stuff before joining my fellow passengers as they prepared to alight. The light was starting to fade by now; it was after four after all. Hmm, now where? I found my handy and paged through to Roni’s number.

“Grá¶nberg.”

“Heya Ron, I’m at the S-Bahn.”

“Gott! Why didn’t you say you were coming by train?”

“Well my er other plan fell through last thing, so like how do I get to yours from here?”

“Mom’s over in Haan, you alright getting the bus?”

“I got here didn’t I?”

“Well get the 013, they run every twenty.”

“Where do I get off?”

“Just after Aldi, I’ll meet you at the stop.”

“There’s one just come in, see you in a few!”

“Tschuss!”

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The bus wasn’t very busy and I easily found a seat. One nice thing was that it was warm inside; just those few minutes on the platform had got me chilled nearly to the bone. My transport dropped downhill into the town centre and after a short stop in the town headed off up the opposite hillside. The town is fairly unremarkable, a mixture of the old and what appears to be eighties investment. I kept an eye out for my stop and nearly missed it even then as I was looking out the wrong side!

“Drew?”

“Gaby tonight I guess, it’s a long story.”

“You’d best fill me in on the way home.”

By the time we’d walked the remaining 500 metres to the Grá¶nberg’s house I’d filled Roni in with the details of my adventure to get there.

It was probably less awkward me turning up as Gaby, all the other guests were girls and I think as Drew I might have felt a bit out of place. To call it a party might be pushing it a bit, Angela had laid on a bit of a spread (she’d barely blinked when she saw me in girl mode,) and I felt a little overdressed in my girly attire. After the traditional present giving and the food of course it turned into a typical girls night in, conversations about boys, school, fashion and the upcoming social season. I coulda stayed back in the Ahrtal for that.

I felt a little sorry for Ron, you’d think turning seventeen would be more exciting but I can imagine my own birthday in February being just as much of an anti climax.

“Anyone fancy going to the Blotschenmarkt,” Monika, one of Ron’s school chums suggested.

“What’s that?” I enquired.

“Its like our Weihnachtsmarkt in the square around the church.” Angela answered.

“There’s a live band tonight I think.” One of the others supplied.

“I guess I’m up for it.” I allowed.

“It does sound more fun than watching a chick flick here.” Roni agreed.

“If we get a move on we can get the next bus in.” Monika enthused.

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The Blotschenmarkt was heaving with bodies when we arrived, a good crowd were listening to the band, a local outfit doing covers of like ancient stuff from before I was born. Our little band of partygoers drifted around checking out the stalls and produce and like girls do, the local boys.

We met up with some other ‘kids’ from Roni’s school so our numbers were swollen from six to over a dozen including several lads. The atmosphere was great; people were here to have a good time, just one big happy party! No disrespect to Roni but this was a bit more exciting than some cold cuts at the house.

The band was quite good even if they didn’t seem to understand the English lyrics they were mostly singing! We all kinda gravitated to that end of the market and I found a cup of glá¼hwein thrust into my hand. Quite how it went from that to dancing with one of Roni’s fellow students, Markus, I have no idea.

“You dance really well Gab.”

“Erm thanks.”

“She’s in a Gardtanz.” Roni supplied from behind me.

“Whoa!”

“I just fill in really.”

“So how comes someone from the Eifel knows our Ron?”

“I race bikes with her, well for like the last couple of years.”

“She’s the captain Markus.” Paula, one of the other party girls filled in.

“Cute and talented then.” Markus grinned.

I felt the colour rising to my cheeks.

“Not really.”

“Which? Cute or talented?” he queried with a grin.

“Either.”

The music changed pace to a slow ballad and somewhere along the line I realised I had my head against Markus’ chest as we shuffled amongst the crowds of the Blotschenmarkt.
 
 
“Anyone need a lift?” Markus enquired when things started to break up just after ten.

“We wouldn’t mind a lift to the S-Bahn.” Roni allowed giving me a hug.

“No probs, I get a few more minutes with gorgeous here.”

Yuck — I think? He is kind of cute if a lad who stands nearly twenty centimeters taller than me can be cute? Anyway, I’m not interested in boys am I, I am a boy - I think?

The Nachtbus was waiting when we got out of Markus’ car a few minutes later and I surprised myself and Roni when I gave our chauffeur a quick hug and a peck on the cheek before we ran for the bus that would take us back to the Grá¶nberg’s abode. That NRW ticket really is good value as it even covered this journey.

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“Someone made a conquest tonight.” Roni noted as we waited for the bus to set off.

“As if!”

“I saw what I saw.”

“I was just being friendly.”

“If you say so but you two were like Siamese twins most of the night.”

“Were not!”

“Ask anyone.”

“We just had one dance.” I allowed.

“For like an hour.” Roni grinned.

“Erm, I just thought, can I like borrow a nightdress?”

“So what time do you need to leave Gaby?” Angela enquired as we sat down to Frá¼hstuck next morning.

“I guess as soon as I’m ready.”

“There’s no buses this morning so I’ll take you to the S-Bahn, sorry I can’t take you at least to Dussel’ but we have to go to Roni’s Gran in Essen.”

“It’s okay, I kind of like the adventure of going by train.”

In the end it was gone ten when the Grá¶nberg’s dropped me off dressed in more togs borrowed from Roni. Well I’d look a bit daft in a frothy party frock on the train on a Sunday morning wouldn’t I? So anyway I was certainly a bit warmer in my borrowed blouse and denim bibbed skirt. Angela lent me a um natty scarf and bag which as I waited for the train I was pretty glad of.

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It’s only about thirty minutes down to Dá¼sseldorf so it was still before eleven when I got off the train in the city. I checked the time of the Rhein Express; damn I just missed one so there’s almost an hour before the next departure — well unless I catch about three trains instead. So instead of collecting my stuff from the locker I decided to explore Dá¼sseldorf a bit.

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I walked down through the now closed shops to take a look at the river. It’s a bit like climbing mountains, if I know there’s a river I like to look at it and being the Rhine it kinda fascinates me. A big chunk of waterfront was fenced off for, would you believe it, a round of the cross country skiing World Cup! Like there’s no snow and the mountains are well I guess at least a couple of hundred kilometres away. Weird.

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So anyway by now the Weihnachtsmarkt were opening up for the day so I thought I’d take a better look and maybe buy a prezzie or two. Compared to last night in Mettmann there was no real atmosphere but I guess last night was in a cosier setting with some good company, hmm wonder what Markus is up to today?

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I headed away from the river and was surprised to find coaches unloading their passengers so they could visit the markets. Even more surprising was that at least one had travelled all the way from Blighty! Not that the untrained eye could tell, it looked just like all the German, Dutch and French examples.

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I decided to catch one of the elderly trams to get back to the Bahnhof; I didn’t really want to miss another Rhein Express! I quickly found my locker and recovered my togs stuffing them in a carrier bag cadged off Angela. I literally hit the platform running as my train arrived in the station from Duisburg.

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I found myself a seat and made myself comfortable. I had managed to pickup a slice of pizza and a drink as I passed through the concourse and you need a bag of Haribo ® bears to get you through any long journey!

By the time we pulled out of the station I was turning the first page of my Manga and sipping my lemonade.

What a mad weekend! And Christmas is still a fortnight away! Maybe I can manage to spend more time as me not Gaby this year, after all I don’t have the Weinká¶nigin stuff to do this year.

I wonder what Markus is doing over New Year? I’ll have to ask Roni to find out for me.


 
Maddy Bell 12.12.09  © 2009

 

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