Vignette - On the Road
At the airport everyone struggled to buy the tickets for the bus. 900 Hungarian Forints. And then the express arrived. A big jointed bus with two sections. It went directly from the airport into the heart of town. They all pressed in together, stumbling over each other’s rolly bags as they jostled for space. It was done with justice: the oldest had the seats. He was standing in the wheelchair space, for there was no wheelchair.
When a cab cut them off everyone crashed into everyone else. “Sorry, sorry. You ok?” Then after a while the bus stopped for good. Traffic. Slowly they inched forward, but it became clear that the only progress they made was to fill a spot left by some car that had turned around in frustration.
The two lane road would not allow the bus to turn around, so they waited until all the cars ahead had turned around and finally they were at the accident. Two smashed cars pointed the wrong way, airbags deflated, fluids leaking out. A firefighter guided the bus with arm gestures like those that had earlier guided their plane into its gate. Carefully the bus picked its path through the wreckage.
And they were through! The driver sped forward to make time, until again they stopped. The passengers caught one another and sorted out their apologies in French, English, Italian, so many languages. He pressed against the wall to clear the view forward and pointed. It dawned on the other passengers as well: ahead a rescue vehicle had collided with a car that was turning around to avoid the traffic, and now they too had become part of the incident.
The rescuer was smoking with the driver of the car he had hit. The puddle at their feet must not have been gasoline. The bus had to drive off into the weeds, but then it was free again and there was nothing to stop it.
Downtown the bus emptied and they all stood by their rolly bags on the sidewalk and took in the crumbling beauty of Budapest.