City Bus 352: Flash Fiction by cam
City Bus 352
I step out of the city bus onto dry, matted grass. Vehicles speed down the hill and come to a stop at the traffic light. It’s a busy street. Has been for years. The bus is not on the street and isn’t carrying any passengers. It’s an abandoned wreck that the city hasn’t gotten around to hauling away.
The bus shows the damage caused in the accident and deterioration due to time. It’s been that long. No other buses of this year and model are even on the road now. For a while, vagrants and the homeless made it a temporary home. When it was too far gone for even those folks, raccoons, rats, opossums, skunks and mice took over.
I still can’t get that damned song out of my head.
The wheels on the bus go round and round.
round and round.
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all through the town!
I walk around the entire vehicle and examine the remains of city bus 352. It’s been sitting here a long time. The tree growing onto the front bumper is proof enough of that fact.
Empty window panes tell of the violent nature of the its last day. Shoes–shoes everywhere if you have eyes to see them, lie in their hidden niches produced by the passing years. Not many who come here notice the dolls, but I can see them. I know where each one hides.
I walk back a few paces and bend down. The face peers through blades of grass, barely visible. The image of a young mother climbing aboard holding a baby who clutches this very doll, comes into my head along with more lyrics. The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa….I put my hands over my ears.
I leave the wreck behind for a moment and walk toward the street. The summer sun beats down on my bare head. Sweat from my forehead runs into my eyes. I blink. It’s night and snow is falling, a wet, heavy snow. The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.
The driver applies the brakes, but the bus picks up speed, and he tells everyone to sit down and hold on. They slide across the lanes of traffic. Cars trucks and the bus bounce off each other like pinballs, spinning on the slippery pavement like Holiday on Ice in a salvage yard. The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep….The lucky ones slide off the street and stop. But the bus is too heavy, has too much momentum. The tires leave the pavement, and the driver cries out to God. Tipping…..and rolling……….and rolling……..and rolling……..
The people on the bus go up and down.
up and down.
up and down.
No, stop. But I can’t stop the song anymore than the driver of this bus could have sto….I don’t want to think about that. People are everywhere, in every possible, horrific position? Upside down, sideways, young mothers, children, old ladies, babies, tossed like rag dolls, all who needed the bus, betrayed, not by the bus, but by the dri…..Stop it.
The bus comes to rest just outside the tree line of the woods, sitting upright. Some of the little ones are crying, but not nearly enough of them. All the windows are gone, and a cold wind blows through the dark interior. The smell of diesel permeates the air.
Misery and mayhem surround me. Moans and screams enter my head where they will stay for eternity…. Eternity in hell will be heaven after witnessing this. I walk to the front and turn around. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I slide into my driver’s seat and try to fall asleep, my only respite from the sounds that death makes. The wheels in my head go round and round, round and round, round and round………
I open my eyes. I’m in a wheelchair. A woman dressed in white wipes up something on the table in front of me.
“No need to apologize, Charlie. It’s just a little spilled milk.”
Her name badge dangles in front of my face while she works. My name is Rhonda, R.N. and below that, Northwood Asylum.
"I know how to cheer you up," said Rhonda. "Let's sing your favorite song together. How does it begin? Oh, I remember. Ready? The wheels on the bus go round and round........"
Author's Note: Regarding my use of the children's song, The Wheels of the Bus, I contacted ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The song is not in their repertory and is therefore not under copyright at the present time. I have the complete transcript of my brief conversation with them on file.