The long silver-sided bus rounded a narrow inner city street corner. The rear view mirror mounted in front of the automatic passenger doors clipped an improperly placed no parking sign pole, and bent in. The bus driver saw it happen and immediately took up his cell phone.
“Central, this is 422 en route. My door side rear view mirror is bent. Would you make a note for the maintenance crew?”
“Will do, 422. Got it. It’s in the computer.”
“Thanks, Central; 422 in transit.”
Two miles ahead, on the corner of 182nd street, a rider sat in the shade of a bright pink beach umbrella positioned above the driver’s seat of a three-wheeled, motorized, refrigerated cart. The words, “Hoover’s Ice Cream and Treats” were printed on the side of the vehicle.
Hoover liked to park next to bus stops, sales were always brisk in hot weather. And today was no exception. Waiting passengers flocked around his little mobile shop. And during a rush for cold treats, the big bus rolled to a halt, abutting Hoover’s little vehicle.
The ice cream man’s last customer at paid for her buy and mounted the stairs into the bus. The double doors shut with a hiss, the big vehicle’s engine increased in volume, and the shiny bus edged out into the city traffic.
A length of wheel-well reinforcing steel had bent out from just behind the right rear wheel of the bus; the result of a minor fender bender. It was just long enough to hook into to the backward curled front bumper of Hoover’s ice cream cart. He found himself headed toward the city center, compliments of the bus line.
Hoover held on to his handle bars and made sure his money sack was secure. With his left arm, he tried to get the driver’s attention, and noticed that the rear view mirror on the bus was bent. That’s when he switched to plan two.
To celebrate ownership of a new ice cream wagon, Hoover had visited a bike shop and purchased three items and mounted them on his handle bars. Two American flags, and a big shiny horn with a bulbous black squeeze ball.
The bus continued along with Hoover attached. Pedestrians, startled at the “Waap, Waap” of his horn, leaped to the curbs and raised clenched fists at the white-faced ice cream man traveling by.
At 181st street, Hoover’s umbrella launched up out of its holder, arced high above the city traffic, and plummeted down, pole end first, through the roof of a yellow cab. Shocked, the taxi driver jerked his steering wheel, and drove into the back of a parked police car.
Hoover never noticed. He figured that the bus would slow, and stop for more passengers at 180th street. And it did, however only two passengers stood at the stop ready to board, and all Hoover could do was to pelt them with Eskimo Pies to get their and the bus driver’s, attention.
Glaring at what looked like an irate ice cream man, they each snagged a cold treat before boarding the bus. The doors closed, and the big vehicle eased into traffic. Hoover, now hat-less and with a white-knuckled grip on his handle bars, screamed as loud as he could.
“STOOOP THE BUUUUUUSSSSS” and he gave his horn ball three strong squeezes. “ Waap, Waap, Waap.”
Due to the depths of his concern for being towed into the next state, Hoover didn’t realize an enormous red fire truck had crept up behind the bus. The fire engine crew was responding to a traffic wreck about 100 yards ahead, and a big tow truck was in close pursuit of the fire engine.
The fireman behind the steering wheel of the fire truck felt the need to sound his horn. There’s nothing like the atmosphere splitting sound that spews from a fire engine’s horn. It makes a person sit up and pay attention. And when the fire truck motored to within six feet of Hoover, the horn cut loose; its blast almost propelled Hoover over his handlebars.
“Waap, Waap,” Hoover responded.
The siren on the fire truck wailed, and the ice cream man screamed as though waking from a nightmare.
Just when Hoover decided to invoke the help of his God, the bus decreased in speed, and Hoover’s pulse slowed accordingly.
The big red truck eased by. The huge tow truck with flashing lights and other shiny things lumbered past, and the bus rolled, ever so slowly, to a stop.
Life as Hoover knew it seemed suspended in time, and he realized he was breathing the exhaust of a bus at full idle. This wasn’t good.
Up ahead, traffic cops blew their whistles. Hoover couldn’t see them, but suspected something was up. The bus reversed gears and began to back up. It crept back slow enough to disengage the protruding wheel-well section from Hoover’s front bumper.
Two more police whistles, and the big silver bus eased the center lane, crossed over into the oncoming lane, and drone away from Hoover.
The ice cream man was still as a store mannequin. He was locked in a hunched over position on his saddle seat. His nose dripped wetness and his eyes were fixed on his handlebars.
A teenager, wearing jeans two sizes too large, approached the little refrigerated vehicle. “Hey mistah, you got any Fudgeicles?”