Darkside of the Moon: The bus to somewhere

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

It’s a little known fact that once Charon ferries you across the River Styx a motor coach waits on the other shore to take you on to Hell.

Recently, I got a preview. Down Lisbon Street, our driver checked his set of printed directions: to Bangor, Lewiston, Brunswick, Portland, Boston, Bangkok, Hades… When we stopped at a light, when we passed three inches away from parked cars, before we made a turn, when we made a turn, those papers were shuffling; it was clear this man had never driven this route before. I began to suspect he’d never driven a bus before. Unless you call reading driving, he technically wasn’t driving a bus even then.

All the way to Portland, the fellow kept checking those papers. He must be memorizing the route to the bus station, I thought. At least, I hope so.

Anyway, the driver pulled off at Exit 46, by the Jetport. For five minutes, we wandered the never-never land of Intermalliana. The driver saw no bus station, cleverly assumed this couldn’t be the place — Brigham Young he was not — got back on the Interstate, and then took Exit 46 again! Because we’d all had so much fun the first time. The guy figured this must be the way, since the same sign we passed a few minutes ago still clearly said Portland — see, there’s a big “P” and then a small “o,” and the “r”… well, it could be Portsmouth, but it probably said Portland — and even though he didn’t find a city the first time, who knows, maybe he had been checking his notes and he missed it.

Same gauntlet through backlot Americana. Purgatory with landing lights. Twilight Zone, Episode 318: “Circling Godot.” Five minutes later we're back on I-95, heading south. And this time we get off on Exit 45, pass over the highway, and actually take 295 North, which is sort of in the right direction, at least from where we are now. Just a few short centuries after we start we pull into the bus station on St. John’s Street.

“You’re late,” my brother says. “Why are you kissing the ground?”

A few hours later, Bob and Jackie drive me back to the bus station, where I buy my return ticket in the happy certainty that my early afternoon bus driver is by now lost somewhere in Massachusetts, or in New Hampshire, possibly even Quebec. Wherever he is, I hope he hasn’t misplaced his directions.

My northbound driver gets us onto 95 and we can hardly fail to reach Lewiston now! With luck, I’ll be home before the cat is a desiccated heap of bones on the windowsill.

We even get off at the Lewiston exit. This driver is great! But then, instead of taking a logical route, such as toward the bus station, he has to get fancy. We are on Alfred Plourde Drive, which seems unnecessary. We are on Webster Street. Sometime later, we pass the side street Wayne Rivet’s folks live on. I wave. Maybe they’ll send a search party. Time passes, we go up alleyways, we make hairpin turns, we double back. Now, somehow, we are coming from the north down Central Avenue toward Russell Street. The Bates campus lies directly in front of us; if we continue down Central at least we’ll get to the bus station within the same calendar year. But no, the driver decides to turn left. Now, we are heading for Sabattus Street. This is not going to work. By this time, everybody on the bus, even the driver, is muttering, “What is going on?” Petulantly, the man pulls the bus over, in traffic, and announces, “Bates College!”

Kind of random. Apparently, there are a couple of Bates students on board, and our man feels he should drop them off, even if he doesn’t know where the college is. I mean, Bates College is in Lewiston and the bus is still somewhere in Lewiston, so, you know, close enough! A young man confers with the driver. We turn down another alley; at Sabattus, we hook a 60-degree turn onto Campus Ave., almost crushing a subcompact which isn’t yet compact enough for our driver. We pull up in front of the college library. I am less than a mile from home. Heck, I practically live in that library, I am home. I get off with the students. So I have no idea if that driver ever found the bus station.

To this day I go to Mass to light candles for my fellow passengers. Maybe when the driver finally pulls up at their destination and announces: “Hell!,” it’ll be the Pearly Gates instead. Now, that’s a bus line!

We have recommended to Mike that under no circumstances should he ever attempt to leave Lewiston again. It will be better for everyone that way.

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