Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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The Trip of a Lifetime

by Richard Tornello

"Sandy," I said, "come on. We'll sneak on board. They'll never know. Besides we're kids, what can they do to us?"

"Artie, are you sure? They'll lock us up for trespassing."

"Don't be such a baby. I'll open the door jamb with my toes. I mean, really. Do you think we could get there, hitch-hiking, thumbs outstretched, even with a sign? They'd pick us up and send us to a shrink. That's what they would do. I know my shrink would set me free. I don't know about yours.

"I don't have one," she replied with an air of superiority and then added, "or need one, like you do."

"Oh Yeah, Ms Smarty Pants, so why are you hanging out with me? Come on, we'll be real quiet. We'll stow away, and they'll have to take us once we're on board. And when we get there..."

"If we ever get there, that is. And they'll lock our cute little kid butts up, that's what they'll do. I have to be an idiot to go along with you and your half baked ideas. Artie, you're such a dreamer you know that?" Sandy had her hands on her hips, just like her mother when she was mad.

"Oh come on. We'll be real quiet. We'll dance and sing. We'll leap and bound, we'll have a fling."

"They'll fling us back home and we'll get it. Why do I go along with your idiotic schemes?"

"Cause they're fun, and wacko, and because it's not a normal day when you're with me."

Sandy smiled, she agreed without saying a word.

I grabbed her hand and pushed the door to the bus open. There was no driver on board yet and no alarm either. I was worried about an alarm. "Shhhhhh," I whispered to her even though there is no one around just yet.

"Don't shush me, mister big ideas. There's no one here. How are we going to get there?"

"I saw the destination on the front. That's where this is bound. And we're on it. The driver has to be here soon. It's time for the next shuttle. I've been watching and timing. And I have the bus schedule right here in my pocket too. They think they are so sneaky, those adults. They hide a place of marvels from me and you. Have you ever noticed that the drivers are always smiling when they head to that place? Have you? They're smiling from ear to ear. They appear so happy, so full of bliss. I'm sure there is something they are not telling us. I'm so sure of it."

Sandy said, "No I haven't and I never ever though about it. Only an idiot like you would ever contemplate something like this." She was giggling at the very thought.

I realized she had forgotten about getting caught and was getting wrapped up in the adventure. Like I said, I thought to myself, what could they do? And out loud I said to Sandy, "What would they do? Drop us off in another universe, another dimension, to traverse our way back home? Oh no, they'd get in real trouble for that. More than we will, I mean would."

"The driver is coming, be quiet. Hide in the back, stay low." I whispered. Sandy and I get low in the very back. "I hope he doesn't come back to inspect."

"Artie, we are going to get caught, I'm afraid."

"Shhhhhhh, no we're not, just be quiet!"

The driver climbed into his seat. He snapped his seatbelt on, radioed something to the dispatcher and fired up the bus. The engine growls to life.

"He won't be able to hear us if we're quiet," I told Sandy.

She was worried again. I could see it on her face.

"Artie, we're going to get in so much trouble. I don't even know if this place exists. You're crazy and I'm even crazier for coming along with you. NOT IN SERVICE. How do you know there is such a place?"

"What did I say before? Look at the drivers' faces, just look when they have that NOT IN SERVICE sign on the front of the busses. You ever hear of cutbacks for this run in the news? It's got to be the best of runs."

Sandy didn't answer. I turned to look at her, but she was gone!

"Sandy? Sandy?"

Suddenly something nudged my shoulder. It was a hand. A big hand, attached to an arm clad in a bus driver's standard-issue jacket.

"Sir, Sir, wake up. This is our last stop. You fell asleep. We're not in service at this point. It was announced. You'll have to get off and take another bus back to wherever it is you're going."

I let out the breath I had been holding. He didn't know I was a stowaway. I was free and clear of trouble...

But where was Sandy?


© 2011 Richard Tornello

Bio: Richard Tornello is a business owner/consultant/technical recruiter with 28+ years experience, married and kept by one very neurotic cat, Stella. He has a degree from Rutgers University in Asian Studies. Richard's poetry and fiction has appeared a number of times in Aphelion (with one or more poems almost every month!); his most recent fiction contribution was The Incantations in the September edition.

E-mail: Richard Tornello

Website: Non-Official Rhymes

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