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The Final Stop
The Final Stop
The bumpy road made the ride uncomfortable, but somehow Spencer didn’t notice. He had been through rough terrains many times, and he knew the road ahead would be a breeze compared to what he already had been through.
The driver was a round man with a purple turban on his head, despite being as alabaster in skin color as a man could get. He wore a worn-out leather jacket and was chewing on a long strand of grass, with one hand idly on the wheel of the bus. Besides the driver’s obnoxious chewing, the ride was silent. All the other passengers were silent, twiddling with their thumbs, or sobbing silently, or staring face forward emotionlessly.
Spencer didn’t remember how he got on this bus, or why. All he remembered was opening his eyes, and standing on a paved road by a bus stop, with the bus pulling over for him to get on.
“Isn’t there a fee?” Spencer had asked, before getting on.
The driver had smiled at him crookedly before shaking his head. “You already paid.”
Spencer had grown up in the ghetto streets of New York. He knew what it was like to live in a place drained of color. But the lack of color in Spencer’s current surroundings rattled him.
The bus stopped, and another group of passengers came in. An elderly woman, who walked in with a speed of a rowdy five-year-old boy, and a small girl of about ten years of age, with blonde hair that went down to her hips. Her gray-blue eyes and blonde hair seemed to be the only color that glowed in the whole bus. She had a rich, schoolgirl aura to her, as she carried a teddy-bear and a knapsack.
Spencer was surprised when the little girl slid onto the seat next to him. Most little girls would be afraid of a large and tattooed African-American man in an orange prison jumpsuit.
Spencer continued to look at her in shock when the girl finally turned to him and said, “Hello.”
“Uh… hello,” Spencer answered in his throaty voice.
“I’m Madeline. And you are?”
“Spencer… I had a dog named Spencer. But then he died. When he was ten, the same year as me! I wonder if I’ll see him today.” Madeline then craned her neck to see her surroundings up front.
Spencer frowned at Madeline’s comment before asking, “Where’s your parents?”
Madeline turned him, her eyebrows furrowing, though not in a mean way. “They’re probably with my little brother at home. I hope they’re sad but not too sad. I don’t want to be forgotten.”
Spencer nodded slowly, deciding to ignore the comment rather than divulging deeper into the odd conversation. He was reminded of his own daughter, Gab. Gab was nine and half now, or so Spencer thought. He hadn’t seen his daughter for over three years now, ever since he got busted in a drug raid. His ex-girlfriend didn’t allow him to see Gab. Instead, she took Gab out of New York and moved to San Francisco with her fiancé.
Spencer’s fists curled at the memory. If only she’d allow him to explain. She didn’t understand the shame he felt when he couldn’t afford to get them a decent apartment. She didn’t understand the shame he felt when he couldn’t afford to buy Gab a new pair of shoes. And she didn’t understand the hurt he felt when she went off and married some wealthy white architect and changed their daughter’s surname to her fiancé’s surname.
At Spencer’s glowering face, Madeline commented, “You seem angry.”
“That’s cause I am,” Spencer answered.
“No need to be angry for what has happened. What’s done is done… by the way; I’m here because I had leukemia. What about you?”
Spencer finally sighed in exasperation before asking, “Girl, what the hell are you talking about? You’ve been talking like some crazy voodoo witch or something.”
Madeline frowned. “Me? What about you? You’re the one who acts all rude and makes me look like I’m a crazy person.”
“Listen girl, I just want to get off this bus. That’s it.”
Madeline frowned before turning away. She turned back to look at Spencer, before asking, “Who do you think you’ll see?”
“What. Do. You. Mean?” Spencer asked, stopping abruptly at each word for Madeline to register what he was saying.
“I’m mean when we arrive. Who do you think will meet you? I hope its Spencer my dog and my grandparents. They died last year. Both of them had a heart attack. But if they can’t meet me, I hope its Elvis and Cleopatra of Egypt.”
Spencer chuckled. “Sorry to break it to you kid, but they’re dead.”
“Exactly!” Madeline squealed. “Or maybe Anne Boleyn… or a samurai dude. Or Princess Anastasia Romanov.” Madeline gasped, before saying, “Marilyn Monroe, President Kennedy and King Solomon and Queen Diana! Yes! I want them to meet me!”
Spencer chuckled. He couldn’t remember Gab being this playful. Gab was often a diva with a flair for fashion. But from the pictures his friends sent, Gab’s stepfather’s influence had made her as school-girlish and preppy as Madeline, quite different from the one he knew. His friends had even said that she no longer liked being called ‘Gab’ except at home, calling it too ‘boyish’. Everybody knew her as Gabriella.
“So? Who would you like to meet you?” Madeline asked.
“Uh… James Brown and Martin Luther King… and… Fredrick Douglas.”
“Dunno any of them. Except for Martin Luther King.”
Spencer chuckled. “Yeah… wouldn’t expect you to.”
The bus stopped again and this time a group of Mexican men entered. Spencer recognized one of them.
“Ed…? Ed, my brother, you gotta tell me where the hell we are. Man, I’ve been on this—”
“Spence… he got you too?” Ed muttered a string of curses in Spanish. “He got me back in Mexico City. I was trying to smuggle in last few carts… no use man. I was thinking of running to Canada. I got— had— family up there.” Ed shook his head. “No use. He got me like he got you.”
“He… got me? Man, I was released early for good behavior. I was in jail. No way could he’ve gotten me. I was released, and was leaving for San Francisco to get my daughter from that white son-of-a—” Spencer stopped when he realized Madeline was still listening in. “I mean… I was gonna get my daughter and leave the country.”
“C’mon, he got you. That’s why you’re here. No need to make it seem like you had a heroic end, man. Hell, the man left me for dead in the bathroom of a crappy hotel. For sure that wasn’t a heroic end.”
“Nah, Ed. I stayed in New York for a while, after getting a ticket to San Francisco. Then I remember running across his men… one of ‘em popped out a gun, and fired, but I escaped. I wouldn’t be here on this greyhound bus if I didn’t.”
“Grey… ah, man…” Ed waved his hands Spencer’s direction before walking towards the back of the bus. Spencer turned around, and his eyes widened slowly when he saw the big gash on Ed’s side…
Madeline said, “Ah… more people.”
Spencer’s breath caught when he saw two people with missing arms entering. When they took their seat, Spencer got up, and said, “Hey… I’m getting off.”
The driver turned to look at Spencer. “Sorry. No can do. Once you get on, you never get off.”
“No… I’m getting off at the next stop,” Spencer said. “Where the hell is this bus going? Huh? Where the hell are we going?”
Madeline giggled. “Well, definitely not to hell.”
Spencer got up, before running up the driver and clamping his hands around his neck. “Listen… I’m getting off. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You hear me? YOU HEAR ME?”
The driver seemed to show no physical pain despite Spencer’s hands around his neck. He simply smiled and said, “Sorry sir. But you need to take a seat.”
“Spencer!” Spencer thought it was Madeline, so he slowly removed his hands from the driver. Spencer slowly fumbled back to his seat.
“Spencer,” Madeline said. “You’re on this bus. You’re not getting off until we reach the final stop.”
“To San Francisco?” Spencer asked, breathing heavily.
“No… Spencer, don’t you know? Don’t you know why you’re here?”
Spencer shook his head, feeling tears in his eyes. “No Madeline. I don’t know why I’m here.”
The bus stopped again before Madeline could finish. A brunette woman entered, whispering, “He beat me, he beat me,” over and over.
The bus stopped, and the driver turned around, “This it. Everybody file out in single order.”
They got out, finding themselves at a beach house.
“This is it Spencer. The final stop,” Madeline answered. “We’re dead.”
Spencer chuckled after registering what Madeline had said. “Really? Really Madeline?”
“Spencer. You are dead.” Spencer didn’t object when Madeline touched Spencer’s back, and showed him her hands. It was stained… with Spencer’s blood.
“What… what…?” Spencer began to breathe heavily, he felt sweat go down his face. “No… no… what…?”
“Spencer,” Madeline interrupted, unfazed by Spencer’s fear. “Don’t worry. You’ll never have to worry again…” Madeline then squealed, as an elderly couple with a dog came in from the house.
Spencer was ready to cry as he kept touching his back desperately, afraid to look at his blood-stained hands.
Spencer turned around, to find none other than his ex-girlfriend. “What are you doing here?”
She smiled, and said, “Overdose. I had just given birth to twins… and… I was tired… I didn’t mean to—”
“Where’s Gab?” Spencer asked brutally, not interested in her story.
Her smile faltered, before she responded, “She’s with her stepfather. He’s her legal guardian.”
Spencer looked down, before looking back up. “Does she remember me?”
“Not really… her stepfather… that’s whom she looks up to.”
Spencer looked down, before his ex walked up to him, extending her hand. “C’mon… it’s time to go.”
Spencer reluctantly took her smooth hands into his rough ones.“This is the final stop?”
“Yeah. This is the final stop.”