Not Again

John sat on a wooden bench in the station, waiting. Finally, his bus arrived. He picked up his only suitcase, a small black Samsonite, and followed the crowd to the boarding area.

"Ticket, please. Thank you."

John trailed an elderly woman onto the bus. Standing at the front, spying for an empty seat, he thought to himself "This is the last time I run for president." John sat down, but the man whose lap he had intruded upon told him to find an empty seat. John spotted a vacant seat near the front, and sat himself down after stowing his luggage in the overhead compartment.

Once seated, John had a chance to start studying the other passengers. The couple in front of him was young and obviously in love. "That belongs in the bedroom, not out in public" John said to himself as he listened to them snore. "The bus hasn't even left the station yet." Behind him was an older man with a glass eye, which he was nervously popping in and out. A nearby steward tried to calm him, "First time on a bus?"

"Yeah." Pop, schluck, pop.

"Don't worry. This busline hasn't had an accident in over 3 months. We think our luck is finally starting to turn around."

"Really? Wow, that makes me feel a lot better. Thanks." He put his eye back in and left it there, and smiled.

The bus only held 50 passengers, but when everyone was finished boarding, it seemed to John like the entire United States House of Representatives was riding. Miraculously, the seat next to him was still empty. John hated sitting next to someone on bus trips, because he always seemed to get a crazed, homicidal psychopath for a seatmate. He always found it hard to convince them that no, he really didn't have any desire to watch his hand get cut off and stuffed in his mouth. Or anyone else's hand, for that matter.

Only a few people were still coming aboard. A young Amish gentleman caused a fuss when they wouldn't let him smoke on the bus. Two women who looked like twins convinced an elderly man to ride in the overhead compartment so that they could sit together.

It was the final passenger that really got John's attention though. She was brunette and beautiful, thin and immaculate. Her long hair was tied in a ponytail which swung and hit people in the face as she looked around for a seat. Half the men on the bus were offering to share their laps with her, the other half were taking pictures and whistling. She reveled in it, posing and blowing kisses.

The driver came on and said in a gruff voice "Please, miss, sit down. We'll be leaving soon." She gathered her skirt and started down the aisle, to the cheers of the crowd. Noticing John sitting alone, she swung herself down into the seat next to him, to the boos of the crowd. She gave them all the finger and turned to John. "What's your name?"

"John."

"Just John? No last name?"

"Nope." Her voice was deep but exquisitely feminine. It made the hair on the back of John's hands stand on end. John was trying not to imagine her lying naked in a big bowl of chocolate syrup with those little colored sprinkles all around, but it wasn't working.

"I'm Stacy MNA. Pleased to make your acquaintance, John."

"Stacy Emmenay?"

"No, Stacy M-N-A. My parents are biologists."

"Oh."

The bus attendants came out of their hiding places to give us our last minute safety instructions. "There are 6 exits on the bus. Two to the front, two to the side, and two to the rear. In the event of a water landing, your seatbelt will act as a flotation device. In the event of a crash, morphine syringes will drop from the ceiling to make the last few minutes of your life more enjoyable. Thank you." The driver turned around and yelled "Please fasten your seat belts, we will be leaving shortly!" and immediately the bus lurched forward heading for the street.

Fifteen minutes later they were on the interstate. The driver turned around and yelled "We're cruising at 55 miles an hour on Interstate 2-1/4 between Arizona and Texas. If you look out the left of the bus, you'll see the side of the road. There's nothing very interesting to see on the whole damn trip, so I suggest you read a book."

John turned to Mrs. MNA and struck up a conversation. "Do you think that Soviet literature of the 14th century is as underscored with atheistic symbolism as the Chinese impressionist renaissance paintings of the early Chow dynasty?"

"No. That theory is completely unfounded. L Ron Hubbard has a book about where he argues that the Mayans..." John was quickly falling in love.

An hour later, the bus driver spun around again, yelling "We're now crossing the Texas border. Please observe the local customs and don one of the complimentary 10- gallon hats now being distributed." John noticed that the driver had gained a noticeable southern drawl.

From the back of the bus came a loud "NOW!" and the sound of semiautomatic assault rifles being pulled out from underneath trenchcoats and their safety's being flicked off. Everyone, including John and Stacy, turned to stare at the source of the noise. Three blonde-haired and blue-eyed youths were standing at the back, wearing army-green and wielding guns bigger than John's Samsonite - two men, and one woman.

"What do you think you're doing" yelled the bus driver, so he could be heard in the back.

"Keep driving. You are all our hostages. Driver, you will take this bus to Germany, where we will join our countrymen in fighting for the liberation of East Germany. The Fifth Reich shall rise!" and the three of them cheered. John turned in time to see the driver mouth the words "Oh shit" and turn his attention back to the road. One of the men ran to the front and cut the wires to the bus' radio, then kept his gun trained on the driver. "Keep driving," he said. The other man stayed in the back while the woman went to the front. "Don't anybody try anything," she said.

The man continued, "When we reach Germany, you will all be held as hostages until the United States releases all of their East German political prisoners. Please enjoy the rest of the trip."

Before John could stop her, Stacy stood up and yelled at the woman in the front, "You'll never get away with this! The socio-political factors in Germany will never withstand the splitting of the country again. You'll be dooming Germany to dramatic economic recession and political instability, not to mention an unfavorable trade balance."

"Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about! We are fighting for the greater good of Germany. A Communist German state must be restored to eliminate the inherent political underhandedness of a capitalist Democratic society. No more McDonalds in Germany!" The man who was covering the driver turned his attention to Stacy, leveled his weapon and fired. Stacy fell with a slump back down into her chair, her white shirt beginning to stain red. "Does anyone else want to argue political philosophy and economic theory? Good. Just sit back and relax, it's going to be a long drive to Germany."

John looked at Stacy's lifeless body sitting next to him. "Not again."

1993, Tyler Jones

tjones@willamette.edu