The bus has taken on a warm, smoky glow.
“My name is Louis,” the bus driver had said. “Drunk women call me Louie. And I don’t mind at all.
“There’s only one rule tonight, and that’s that there is no rule. This is a party bus, a drinking, dancing, smoking bus. Dance, laugh, shout. You need cigs? I’ll stop. You need something at a convenience store? I’ll stop. Keep all your lovely bits inside the bus, though, let’s not attract more attention than a black and pink bus already does. Now let’s have a good time!”
This is not, of course, the trusty #17. This is not a commute.
This is an adventure.
It’s Erin’s bachelorette party. Home from Arizona and full of the love that a two-year absence and a well-run pub crawl can spur, the sun has gone down, the music has been turned up.
“I THOUGHT I SPOTTED AN OLD HIPPIE,” LouAnn shouts. We have similar dance moves – Soul Train comes to mind – and we high-five.
“I GOT ABOUT SEVEN INCHES CUT OFF ABOUT A MONTH AGO,” Megan yells. “YOU DON’T THINK IT LOOKS CHOPPY?”
“I’M SECOND-HAND SMOKING OVER HERE, MAN,” shouts Kim. “I TELL YOU WHAT – I’M GONNA GO IN THE NEXT BAR, EAT A LOAF OF BREAD AND ME AND MY GLUTEN ALLERGY ARE GONNA CLEAR THIS WHOLE BUS. YOU FEEL ME? YOU’RE JUST ONE SLICE OF BREAD AWAY FROM THE GASSY EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME.”
The black and pink bus slides majestically down the cobblestoned roads to the river, down by the Grain Belt sign, down by where the 35W bridge collapsed.
Diana hands me a beer.
I nod, move across the aisle from one side of the bus to the other to sit next to her. “Can I just tell you that I’m pretty drunk right now?”
“You could tell me,” she says, “but I wouldn’t beli - hic! – I wouldn’t beli – hic! – I would be disinclined to have faith in your assumption.”
We grin at each other. “Nicely done,” I say.
She shrugs. “English is my native language.”
We twist in our seats, look out the windows to the brick, to the river, to the stark beauty of the leafless trees against the starlit skies.
Behind us, music I don’t recognize throbs, bass-heavy. Beautiful women dance in the aisle, shouting encouragement and jokes. Outside, Minneapolis moves silently from winter to spring.
Diana wraps her arms around me, and I rest my head on her shoulder.
“We are the luckiest women in the world,” she says.
I nod. “I am inclined,” I say, “to have faith in your assumption.”