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Poenari Castle’s broken silhouette passed hundreds of feet above Jonathan, framed by the rising moon and the black branches reaching out in “velcome.” The handsome laid back, mellow, and easygoing smasher-of-heads-against-breakwaters-and-pavement ex-lifeguard peered through the glass, breathless. The rain, thick as plasma, began to block his view from the taxi.

Despite the increasingly narrow passages, looming mountains and biblical weather, he texted Mina another time.

Bună ziua! (Good evening!) I am now in Romania near Poenari Castle. Up until now there has been no actual Wi-Fi. Earlier the driver, who wears a black  mask, told me about a free service called Si-Fi that has to do with antennas placed on, of all things, bats! I am well. In fact, I am even cooler than I was last month…and that’s pretty cool!

Cele mai bune urări (Best wishes),

Jonathan

The driver looked into the rear-view mirror and wondered, Is my passenger still…alive? He turned his head 360 degrees around, then another 180 degrees toward Jonathan and asked, “Are you there…sir? Let it be known, young sir, that breathing can attract a variety of…undesirables.” In the Prince’s hemorrhaging neck of the woods, breathing was regarded as overrated.

A long exhalation of foul human breath rushed from the backseat.

What the heaven has this human been eating? Plants? “Look, young sir!” said the driver. “Ve’re almost home! Ve’ll get you some real food.”

“I’m on a vegetarian diet, sir. I no longer eat anything with a face.”

Oy. Vun of those! The driver thought. “No problem young man! You can alvays rip the face off first.”

“Driver? Do you know where I can find a Mr. Karoly Tepesthe? He has some money put aside for me.”

The driver only belched.

“You didn’t eat him, did you?” Jonathan joked.

“No. I didn’t, sir. Haven’t you heard about Mr. Tepesthe’s terrible accident?”

“Oh, no. No, I haven’t.”

“Apparently Karoly was on his way home from the bank after he withdrew a million dolari in cash, tripped, and stumbled onto a very sharp twenty-foot pole—sorry, of course you couldn’t have heard. It doesn’t happen until tomorrow.”