Thursday, June 30, 2005


She stood on the corner with a bus token in her hand. She was planning on boarding the same old city bus that always stopped there. The sun was rising and the breeze felt warm on her face. So she threw the token up in the air just to watch it glitter in the morning light.

Then a truck blew its horn at an SUV and distracted her. The token dropped, bounced off the curb and fell into a mud puddle in the street.

"Rats!" she said, irritated and ran out to get the token just as a big, black bus pulled up. And it was no ordinary bus...Oh no, it was THE COOL BUS. And it was the most incredible vehicle she had ever seen. Her jaw dropped in amazement.

Covered with neon, flashing lights and holograms, THE COOL BUS was a virtual carnival on violet-tinted wheels. Its tires were white (how did they stay that way?), its grille was gold and it was HUGE. Music thumped from its interior where a group of people frolicked on its two decks, hung over its spiral stairway and flirted with each other by the wet bar.

The bus also included faux leopard-skin couches, three bedrooms, two bathrooms [with adjoining showers], a kitchen and dining area, DVD monitors, a mini-casino, a jacuzzi, two tanning beds and a couple of pool tables.

The woman knocked on the door of the bus and as it slid open a male voice whispered

"Do you have room for me on the bus?" she asked.

The driver folded his arms on the steering wheel, the music stopped and all of the
passengers stared at the woman.


The woman took a small step back and said:"Um, look...It's no big deal...I just want to take a ride."

But the driver shut the door, the music started, the people resumed their various
activities and with a mighty rumble, THE COOL BUS pulled away from the corner and rolled off.

The woman stood there after the bus was gone...And tried to figure out what she needed to do to be cool.

Wear designer nails? Drink Chianti? Read alternative newspapers?

The truth was, she read mystery novels, enjoyed many different types of music, drew cartoons and loved baseball.

And she couldn't get on that bus!

Later that day, the woman slid into a booth at the "Serve It Anyway" cafe and frowned
at her friend Buster.

Buster was the biggest man in town. He was built and dressed like a lumberjack. He was also "famous" for bouncing drunks, winning poker games and insulting politicians
on satellite radio.

"What's the news today?" Buster asked, noting the depressed expression on the woman's

"Buster" the woman declared with a sigh "I am never going to be cool."

And when the big man burst out laughing, the woman sat back, totally mortified and glared at his amusement.

Buster slapped one hand against the table as he laughed, thoroughly enjoying his private joke.

The woman rolled her eyes.

"And just WHAT is so funny about that?" she demanded.

It took Buster a minute to regain his composure.

"You" He answered,"Ya woke up this mornin' healthy with everything workin' right and now yer tryin' to get on that fool bus."

"It's THE COOL BUS!" the woman declared and kicked Buster's foot under the table.

He stirred some sugar into his coffee and took a quick sip.

Then he asked,"Honey, what's gonna happen when ya get on that bus?"

"I'll be cool" the woman answered.

"Uh huh...And then what?"

"Well...I'll be happy."

"I see" replied Buster with mock seriousness "You'll be happy."

"Yes!" answered the woman, spreading her hands.

Buster grabbed a toothpick and chewed on it for a moment. Then he looked straight at the woman and sighed.

"Well, I s'pose I could getcha on that bus if it means that much to ya."

"You?!!" cried the woman, certain that Buster had finally lost his mind.

"Yeah, me" he answered.

"But..." The woman protested.

"Don't say nothin' more, Lady...Jest listen."

"Okay, why not..." She said, putting a piece of mint gum in her mouth. She was ready
for nothing and anything.

Buster reached into his jacket and pulled out his stained leather wallet.

"First" he said, unsnapping a pocket in the wallet, "Ya gotta have the right kinda money."

And he showed her the strangest-looking token that she had ever seen. It was striped in orange and black, shimmered like aluminum and had a sparkling green stone in the center.

"Where did you get this?" whispered the woman.

Buster dropped it into her hand.

"That's all you'll need to get on that bus" replied Buster.

She looked up at the big guy and he folded his arms. She knew then that Buster was done talking.

"Thanks" the woman said with a smile and kissed his cheek before leaving the cafe.

Buster sat there for a moment after she left, watching the traffic pass by on the street outside the window.

And then he said, "Enjoy the trip, kid."

The next morning, the woman was back on the same corner. But she didn't toss the token into the air this time.

Oh NO.

She held the token tight in her hand.

And when THE COOL BUS rolled up, she flashed the token at the driver, the door slid
open and she got on.

"Now" she thought, her spirit rising in euphoria, "My life will become what it is meant to be."

And as the miles passed...The music played...The jokes were shared...The games were won and eventually the woman became cool.

And more miles passed...And the woman pierced her navel...dyed her hair...traded her denim for silk and her cotton for leather. And she got cooler...And cooler...And
cooler...And cooler...Until that lady became downright COLD.

One day the bus pulled up to the same corner where the woman had stood a million days before.

The woman started shivering and when she touched the window, the glass felt just like a wall of ice.

Pictures began flashing on the DVD screens. Then THE COOL BUS sound-system started playing a classic rock song about "a grand illusion."

The woman hugged herself, trying to fend off the sudden chill, and watched the DVD images while her teeth chattered.

She saw a family walking their dog in the park, she saw a brother and sister swimming, she saw a little girl drawing her own face on the sidewalk with a big piece of pink chalk, she saw a boy painting his car for the soapbox derby, she saw sparklers, a couple sharing a kiss, daffodils, her cartoons, her stories and then...

When she was just about frozen stiff, the woman saw Buster, standing on the sidewalk with those wise, blue eyes. And all at once she knew what she really needed to do to be cool.

After running to the front of the bus, she grabbed the bus driver's shoulder and said, "I f-found another way to b-b-be cool...Re-release me."

The driver pressed a button, the door slid open and the woman ran out and hugged Buster with all of her might.

"Oh my" she said as she warmed up in Buster's embrace.

When she finally looked up again, THE COOL BUS was gone.

Gazing into the face of her old friend, she asked "How did you know that I finally
figured it all out today?"

Buster smiled, took the toothpick out of his mouth, winked at her
and said "Cuz, I used to DRIVE that damned bus."

-An original story by Ruth Rader. All Rights Reserved.


Pixie said...

OMG. That's a fantastic story. FAN-TAS-TIC!

siriunsun said...

Do you have that published anywhere besides the internet, and if so, is it okay if my daughter uses that for a forensics piece? I know some kids who should think about that! Great writing!

Ruthie In The Sky said...

You are NOT allowed to use it. All of the rights to my writing is reserved to me. I appreciate the compliment but my writing is mine.

siriunsun said...

You are quite welcome, the compliment is deserved. My daughter and I both enjoyed it.