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The Bus Driver MAG
Maggie ran across the soccer field, desperately trying to catch the last bus home.Punctuality was not one of her virtues, as her mother always said. This wouldn't be the first time she hadmissed the bus. It was the end of October, and the sky was already turning dark. Swim practice kept Maggieat school until 4:30, but she always took the longest to shower and change. Because she lived so far out,none of the other girls could give her a ride. So she took the city bus home.
When she arrived atthe bus stop, breathless, she was ten minutes late.
Darn, that bus driver is such a moron, heprobably went by early, she thought.
Maggie started to panic about how she was going to get home.She watched the street lamps blink on methodically, casting a peculiar glow on the pavement. Then sheheard the familiar clamor of the bus. Waves of relief washed over her, steadying her heartbeat and mind.By the time the bus screeched to a halt and its massive doors opened, Maggie was feeling wonderfully incontrol again.
She looked at the bus driver and was surprised she did not recognize him. Hersurprise must have showed, because he smiled, revealing a dazzling set of whiteteeth.
"Good evening, miss."
"Umm, yeah ... "
"Areyou all right?" he inquired with sincere concern.
Maggie noticed how dark his eyes were; shecouldn't even distinguish the blackness of his pupil from his irises. She almost got lost inthem.
"Oh, me? Sure, I'm fine. I just ... well, I thought I had missed you ... I was a littleworried."
"Lucky for you I'm usually late," he said, smiling.
It was allMaggie could do to slide into a seat. The bus was deserted, and the silence seemed to roar in herears.
"So, are you looking forward to Halloween?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, Ican't believe it's tomorrow," said Maggie, startled.
"What are you goingas?"
"Well," she blushed, "I wanted to be a vampire. I have the black dressand the plastic fangs and everything. I even got some fake blood!" she laughed.
"Itseems like a popular costume these days," he said.
"Yeah, I guess people like to bescared."
"Really?" he asked, his suave voice making hershudder.
"Well, sure," she replied nervously.
"How would you like tohear a scary Halloween story then?"
"Would I!" Maggieexclaimed.
"Well, it goes back a long time. This story has been in my family for generations.My roots are in Russia. When I was a little boy, we lived in a village called Rznadoc. The mountainssurrounded us, and it was very cold and dark most of the time, very isolated. We had a little inn, where myfather and the other men used to go on frigid winter nights to warm themselves with drink, and tell stories.Sometimes, when he came home, he would tell us the gossip and rumors he had heard. In such a smallvillage, this was the main form of entertainment, and we knew half of it was old wives'tales.
"I shall never forget the time my father came home with the look of a man who hadseen a ghost. I could not smell alcohol on his breath either, and the tale he told us was not the mumbling of adrunken man. He told my mother he had been walking to town through the woods, taking a shortcut, when hesaw the priest of our little church. He called to him, but the priest did not hear him. So my father walkedsilently through the white snow, which was falling in huge flakes, and when he got closer, he could see thepriest had something in his arms, as though he was holding a baby. Then, my father said the priest turnedand looked right at him with eyes as red as rabbit blood. Then the priest flew up into the treetops and wasgone.
"My mother called him crazy. She said he had been drinking too much again. We childrenagreed Papa's eyes must have fooled him. The priest was a gentleman; he never went to the inn, wasalways kind to the families who came to worship and took care of the church all by himself. No one knewwhen he had come to the village, it seemed like he was always there. How could such a man have glowingred eyes and fly? We forgot about the story. Papa never mentioned it again and I saw the priest every weekat mass, smiling and talking with the villagers.
"One day, my sister went toconfession, as she did every week. My mother said she didn't sin enough to go, but she went anyway. Whenthe sun went down and she still was not home, my papa was angry. He was getting ready to look for herwhen she opened the door. She was very pale, and said she wanted to go to bed. My mother asked her if shewas all right, but she said she had just gotten lost in the woods coming home. My father told me to followher the next time to see what was happening. I was afraid, and said I didn't want to, but his belt made memore afraid. So the next week, I followed my sister to the church. I waited an hour, and she did not comeout. I crept inside, and went to the back where the confessional was. I did not hear any voices. I strained myears; a low moan was coming from the basement. Then I heard panting. I went down the cold stone steps,and through a narrow hallway. There I saw the priest with my sister. She was sitting on a stone table in atrance. Her eyes stared straight ahead, but didn't seem to see anything. Her shirt was falling off hershoulders, and her chest rose and fell with each sharp breath. The priest came from behind her and pulledher blond hair to one side, gently bending her neck. Then he smiled, revealing two sharp white teeth, beforehe plunged them into the soft flesh of her neck. She moaned with a combination of pleasure and pain, I couldnot understand. I was so afraid, I started to back away, but in the vast basement, my footsteps echoed likethunder. He saw me, and his eyes seemed to hold me in place. I couldn't move, and then..."
"Then what?" Maggie gasped.
"Then the girl who was listeningto my story was so enraptured she forgot vampires don't really exist," helaughed.
"Awww, c'mon. You mean you were kidding me?"
"Sorry kid,but I was born and raised in the Bronx, I'm Italian, and I don't even have a sister."
"Ididn't really believe you anyway," Maggie pouted.
"Sure," he saidsmugly.
Maggie noticed they were somewhere she had never seen before.
"Hey,where are we? This isn't the bus route."
"Oh, but it is. You see, hon, not allvampires are from Transylvania, wear capes and live in castles. Some are just everyday people, youknow, mechanics, teachers, engineers ... priests. That part of the story was true. That's my uncle Vinnie.We're blood relatives."
Maggie sputtered in disbelief, "You're crazy, mister! Let meoff!"
"I would if I could, angel, but I can't. I've got that Italian appetite, ya'know?" he said, pulling over.
Maggie cowered as the dark man closed in on her, until shelooked into those eyes again. Those beautiful eyes. You could get lost in them.
She found herselfmoving toward him. He was intoxicating. Then she felt a wonderful, new sensation of pain and pleasure, allat once.
New York, New York
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