The summer of 2013. After hitchhiking whole day, a friend and I were having dinner in a trucker's hotel in the outskirts of Sofia. To our surprise, an old chubby beardy man started talking to us … in our mother tongue, with an accent. We were positively surprised. He seemed nice and also a bit lonely. We were naive young women, subscribed to socialist magazines and had a soft spot for old cute men. Back then. We had clearly grandfathers-who-died-too-early-issues.
He told us he had bought a mobile home in Bulgaria. Because they are apparently good there. Compared with the more rough truck drivers in that hotel, he seemed really cute. So we proposed him: Would he like to drive us to the monastery of Rila and spend a whole day with us?
For the next hour we were in his new mobile home, on our way to the Bulgaria's biggest monastry. We were glad to have a free driver. He was thrilled to have company. Maybe a bit too thrilled. He wanted to buy many gifts for us. Every time he saw a street vendor (and believe me, there are still many in Bulgaria), he yelled ‘cherries’, ‘apples’., ‘melon’.. He stopped the car to buy a big bag of each fruit. I never saw someone so enthusiast about buying fruits, except my three year old cousin's daughter.
At one point, he pointed to a spot in the mobile home and asked me to take the money to buy some plums. My jaws dropped. I was holding a large stack of $100 notes. Red flag. But we still kept eating cherries.
Some street vendors later, he yelled -also in a thrilled way- ‘Honey!'
We had lunch at this honey vendor's garden. While I was looking at the five jars of honey on the table that he bought for us and wondering how to put that in our backpack, I asked him: So, what do you actually do for a living?
He hesitated, but then said: It's better if I show it on my phone.
Strange. First to to my friend. She became pale and her eyes widened. I thought: what the hell. Probably he is a pimp or a dealer.
Then he showed it to me. I couldn't believe what I saw. This was even more weird than I had imagined. He told us the story of how he had come to the Netherlands as a political refugee.
When I was alone with my friend in the monastery and I was sure that he was not eavesdropping, I said to my friend: He is a madman with good photoshop skills or he has probably killed many people in his previous job.
She agreed. But still we continued the journey with him, eating cherries and other fruits. During a break, he decided to hit the melon. Do you want some? he asked, with the big knife in one hand and a piece of melon in the other. Both pointing to me. At that moment, my inner alarm - finally- went off. He has a knife. He could kill us. The photograph he showed during lunch was one of him in military outfit, posing next to Saddam Hussein. He also confirmed that he was one of this dictator's former bodyguards.
I changed from his cherry eating sweetheart to a paranoid bulldog. I broke his heart telling him it's time to split up. And we never heard from him again. We kept one jar of honey.
© Ein_serieller_Rooter 2021-03-10