Last Bus Out
(or in)

by
Toiya Kristen Finley







"What a pee hole," Mariposa mumbled and stepped out of the stall. The desire to curl under the blankets of her own bed was killing her.  The first time she had a few moments rest in days and she was spending it in this dungeon of a bathroom.

But no surprise the bathroom was a dump after the day Mariposa had had.  She told the city bus driver she wanted to go to the Great Dane Bus Station (twice), but he drove right on by and Mariposa had to drag her two bags half a block to the terminal.  She got in line to get her ticket, and some guy with a Carolina North Heel Tars jacket jumped in front of her and got tickets for him, his wife, their forty kids, and two refugees from Canada.
When she did finally buy her ticket, she couldn't reach her money because her arms went limp from dragging her bags.

So now she stood in the pee hole dreaming of sleep.  She hadn't slept in two days.  Mariposa turned on the faucet to wash her hands, and it rained cockroaches.  Mariposa wondered if they cooked with cockroaches in the terminal's so-called restaurant, but she was too hungry to worry about getting antennae stuck between her teeth.

"Where you headed to?" the girl behind the counter asked.  She dumped a quarter pound cheeseburger loaded with tomatoes and onions (Mariposa hated tomatoes and onions--cockroaches would have been better) on the tray.

"School," Mariposa answered.

"Hmmm," the girl said back.

It had been a long winter break, and Mariposa was dying to get back to class. She took her cheeseburger and got on the bus.  The floor was a jelly layer of tea, soda, and fast food grease.  Mariposa didn't much care--her black leather boots had already been ruined by walking through mounds of snow salt after the idiot forgot to drop her off at the bus station.

Mariposa settled back in her chair and ate the charred cheeseburger.  It tasted of bad breath.  But that didn't matter--she was about to get some sleep.  She hoped some lady the size of a burial mound didn't sit by her (like last time) and cut off her circulation.  The lights went out, and as the bus driver stopped at po' dunk post office after po' dunk post office and picked up passengers, no one sat by her.

She fell into an astounding sleep.

So astounding was Mariposa's sleep that the hard chair beneath her back melted into the contours of her body and supported her like a beanbag chair.  So astounding was Mariposa's sleep that she dreamed of cheeseburgers that tasted like cheeseburgers with no onions or tomatoes or cockroaches and bathrooms so shiny and spotless you'd never guess people actually peed in them.

So astounding was Mariposa's sleep that she missed her stop.

The bus rocked her awake.  "Perfect," she said.  There was no one left except her and the driver, and she would have let him know she was still there.  But Mariposa didn't recognize where she was--at least she didn't remember driving through any tunnels with orange ooze dripping from the ceilings before.  And the bus' wheels trudged through something like mud.
At the end of the line, the bus pulled up to these other buses that were all covered in orange ooze and something like the stuff Mariposa blew out her nose when she had a bad cold.  The bus driver got off and met up with some other men and women standing on the dock.  Mariposa cracked a window and wiped the snot off her fingers.

"Hey, Hank," one of them said.  "Busy day, hunh?"

"Yeah.  Always nice to get to the end o' the line. Got anymore cockroach burgers left?  I'm starving."

A woman reached into a white paper sack and handed Hank a sandwich.  When she turned her back, Mariposa saw an emblem on her jacket, which read "P. Geist Transit."

Stupid city driver, Mariposa thought.  Moron forgot to drop me off and took me to the wrong station.  Suddenly, she wasn't dying to get back to school or her bed.  Mariposa waited until the drivers went inside before she forced the bus doors open and trudged her salt-stained black leather boots through the snot.  She dragged her bags half a block, bought a ticket with two limp arms, and waited for the next bus out.
 


 
 
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