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Maureen Mahoney


readingThe Cross In the Road

As I get off the bus I realize I am the only person at the stop. Kirs Kelias, “Cross In the Road.” That’s what the name means in English. As the bus leaves, I look at my Timex watch. It’s 11:45 PM. I look at the schedule on the roadside kiosk. Just a wooden sign with no bench, no structure, no frills. Just another leftover from former, austere Soviet times. The information is in both Lithuanian and Russian. Russian is of no use to me. So, I read the Lithuanian. I read that the next bus leaves at 6 AM! What the hell? I can see that the former 11 PM bus listing has been scratched out. Six o’clock in the morning. I decide to see if the connecting bus will arrive. I wait. It’s now midnight and no bus. Great, now what do I do? I look around me; I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s dark. There isn’t even so much as a moon. But I can’t stay here. So, I better get walking. Anyway, Raseiniai can’t be that far. I take a deep breath and start down the road towards my town.

It’s so black out here I can’t make out anything. All I am aware of is a paved road under my feet and trees all around me. I say to myself, “You have no choice. It’s not like you can call someone. Idiot. You’re an idiot.” I decide to follow the paved road and walk home. I keep walking, walking, and walking. I’m now in the middle of the woods. There are no lights, no cars, no people, no homes, and I can barely see the road. I can’t even see my watch. It’s so silent, it’s eerie. But I keep going. This goes on for miles. My legs and feet hurt. All of a sudden, I am aware of a car on the side of the road, with no headlights on. It’s just sitting there. “Great, I’m going to die. This car is waiting for me and I’m just going to disappear. It’s probably Russian mafia.”

As I try to quietly sneak past the parked car, I hear the engine start up. In my head, I say, ” I am going to be kidnapped, murdered, and left for dead in the middle of the forest.” I try to walk a little faster to avoid the car, but to no avail. It pulls up beside me and the window rolls down. My heart is thumping.

“Atsiprašau, kur eini?” someone asks me. In pseudo fluent Lithuanian, I reply, “I’m walking to Raseiniai.”

There’s a long pause. “Raseiniai? Raseiniai. As tu girtae?

“What? No, I’m not drunk. I’m tired. I’ve been walking for hours.”

I realize there are two men in the front seat of the car. The lights come on and I can now see two uniformed police officers inside the vehicle. I think to myself, “Oh, thank God. I’m saved!” 

They ask me another question: Where am I coming from? I say, “I’m coming from Cross In the Road.” 

They ask again, “As tu girtae?”  

Now I’m getting annoyed and I actually wish I was drunk.

“No, I just told you I’m not drunk. I’m just really tired.”

I explain I am a Peace Corps Volunteer from the U.S. I live in Raseiniai and I am the English teacher there. The two police officers signal me to get in the car. I hop into the backseat. They tell me they’ll give me a ride home. When we finally get there, I realize I was much, much further away than I thought. I thank the two police officers, get out of the car and make my way quietly upstairs to bed. I am exhausted.

The next morning, I get up late and go down to the kitchen for breakfast. My host mother pours me a cup of coffee.

In Lithuanian, she asks me, ”Maureen, why were the police dropping you off at 2 o’clock in the morning?”  

I sigh and reply, “I took the last bus from Šiauliai and got off at Kirs Kelnes because I thought there was a bus home at 11 o’clock. However, I was wrong. So I decided to walk.”

My host mother looks puzzled, so I continue, “As I was walking, this car pulled up and it was the police. They asked me where I was coming from and I told them. But I don’t get it. They kept asking me if I was drunk. Maybe my speech was slurring because I was so tired.”

My host mother burst out laughing uncontrollably. ”What is so funny?” I ask.

She is still giggling as she continues, “First of all, did you realize you were 36 miles from Raseiniai?”

“Wow. 36 MILES!  No wonder they thought I was drunk.” 

“Oh, that’s not the best part, my dear.   When the cops asked you where you were coming from what exactly did you say?”  

At this point I am feeling embarrassed. I just want to drop this whole discussion. ”I told them I was coming from the Cross In the Road.” As my host mother bites her lip to keep from laughing again, she says, “Kirs Kelnes?”

Now, I’m losing my patience at having to repeat myself. “Yes that’s what I said.”

My host mother shakes her head, “That’s not what you said. What you said was, I am coming from the Cross In Your Pants.” 

The light finally came on. I realized I had said Kelnes, when I meant Kelias. Big difference between road and pants. Especially, when you are a woman who had been stumbling along for miles, through a dark forest, in the middle of the night, and you tell two men you are coming from their pants. 


Upon looking at a map of Lithuania, I realized years later that I was dropped off in the middle of a regional park. Uninhabited by people. Kurtuvėnų regioninis parkas, to be exact.