Sorry I’m a few days late. College life is my excuse.
Here’s a (true) excerpt from that life:
“Don’t get caught.”
“Too late.” I looked down the hallway. At the far corner a girl was walking towards us, blissfully unaware of my presence. I bid a quick farewell and walked down the hallway towards the exit. Towards the girl.
Walk with a purpose. Like you’re supposed to be there. It had gotten me food earlier that day, hopefully it would work now.
But hope is a strong word. And now the girl in the hallway was awkwardly sneaking suspicious glances at me from a bowed head and a quick walk. She had seen me come out of the room at the end of the hall. All she had to do was report me.
Worse yet, we had made eye contact. We had both looked up at the same time - her to wonder what I was doing here. Me to wonder if she would complain.
When she passed I said curtly “Don’t ask questions.”
She muttered something incomprehensible.
Rounding the corner, the hallway was empty. Good. There was a solitary exit sign in this part of the hallway. No back exit, and going out a fire exit and setting off the fire alarm was not an option. Then everyone would know I was here. And they’d hang me for waking them up.
Left or right? The lobby to the building has two exits as you come off of the stairs. One left. One right. One of them leads to a gated, locked courtyard which once in I could not exit without re-entering the building, and I did not have a pass card. The other led to the outside, and my bus, and freedom.
I chose right. It looked vaguely familiar. Also it avoided the sleeping male in the corner. He seemed to be part of some sort of front desk, although it was a bit of a makeshift front desk. It was a student’s desk with a laptop on it. He woke up when I passed by and looked at me with a somewhat confused expression. I gave a curt nod and ducked out the door.
I was right. I ended up on the street, a half mile down from the bus stop.
“Stop Requested.” The automated voice pronounced each word separately and perfectly.
The bus rolled to a stop, and the doors opened. “Now let’s see if we can catch one of those buses.” He gestured at the other buses at the stop. One of them was mine. I thought he was joking.
Until they started rolling the moment I stepped off of the bus.
You would think that Capital Metro would give enough time for me to get off of bus 481, and walk 50 feet to bus 484. But no such luck. I started running. Perhaps I could beat the bus to the next stop - it had gained 200 feet on me, but was behind two other buses at a red light.
I drew up past the bus by the time the light turned green, but there was still about eight hundred feet to the next bus stop.
Bus 484 started pulling ahead. The next light was red. I was two hundred feet behind…
The light turned green. Three hundred feet to both the bus and the stop.
And then the bus pulled away. I grabbed onto the bus stop to steady myself, and started debating my options. Either wait for the next bus or walk. It was still a several hour walk home.
This was going to be a long night.
I stopped leaning against the sign pole long enough to look behind me. The alleyway was dark save for a single pool of bluish light cast by a porch light. In the light a tall man, maybe in his 50s, was talking with a philipino in his 30s. They were too far for me to hear. To my left was an abandoned bar, which I couldn’t help noticing was the same building with the porchlight on the side. On the far corner sat a Gatti’s Pizza shop, closed but fully lit none the less. A group of girls sat on the sidewalk in front of the Gatti’s giggling about something or other. Occasionally they’d make obscene gestures at the men standing nearby, and laugh. The men seemed to enjoy it, also.
I discreetly texted the next-bus number posted on the sign, and slipped the phone back into my pocket.
Two middle-aged men stepped onto the sidewalk from the street, and paused. One of them pulled out a phone and said “Is this where we should meet them?”
The other one looked around “Yeah, he said we should meet him on this corner.” He paused “I think that’s them over there.” They started walking down the alley behind me.
Buzz. My phone vibrated to tell me I had gotten a reply text. I pulled out my phone and checked the text messages. One new message from Cap Metro.
1⁄2 Service at 6TH & RIO GRANDE (#1969): 103-SB 04:57PM, 21-CW 05:38 AM 06:08 AM 06:38 AM, 4-WB 05:35 AM 06:05 AM 06:29 AM, 484-SB
My head started to hurt trying to decipher the message. A mere thirty minutes ago I was half-asleep in a very comfortable bed. Now I was leaning against a not-very-comfortable dirty sign post in the middle of downtown, having been awake for 20 hours straight. _Why was 484 cut off? That’s my bus!_ My phone buzzed again.
2⁄2 01:11 AM 01:41 AM 02:11 AM, 663-LA-OUT 07:34 AM07:46 AM 07:57 AM Follow us at http://twitter.com/Dadnab
So much more legible. But between the two messages I figured out what they were saying, and now I knew what time the bus was coming. 1:11. I checked my phone. 1:20.
I guess it’ll be a longer night than I’d hoped for.
A white SUV pulled into the alleyway behind me, and idled its engine.
The white SUV had left without anyone getting into or out of the car. Their clothes were a different matter.
The group talking behind me had left also. I suppose they went further down the alley, since I didn’t see them leave.
And the 1:44 bus had not appeared either. At 2:00 the bars would close and there would be a large flux of people who had been drinking onto the sidewalks. Where I was.
I looked down the street, towards oncoming traffic. Searching for the distinctive light panel at the top of the buses. And by “distinctive” I mean that the bicycle jalopies that came out in droves had them also. But, no bus. I decided to move three blocks down the road to Lamar, and maybe try to catch any other southbound buses. If there are any, I thought. But I can always hope.
Lamar was deserted. The next bus stop was two hundred feet down the road, when I heard a distinctive whine from behind me. I turned in horror. A bus had pulled up the the light behind me, and was waiting for the light to turn green to pass me before I got to the stop. I read the sign board 484. That’s my bus.
Epinephrine is commonly used to stop allergic reactions in emergency situations. It causes an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, starts glycogenolysis, and triggers lipolysis, which is the process of breaking down lipids into free fatty acids. In certain situations the adrenal gland can release large amounts of epinephrine. One side effect of this is tunnel vision.
I could see two things: The bus, and the bus stop. I ran for the second time that day.
I grabbed the sign post at the bus stop, and turned around. The light had just barely turned green, and the bus was pulling into the intersection. I made it. Although just barely…
The room around me spun into focus. I stared at the ceiling. Where am I…?
What happened last night?
Why does the clock say 7:15?
What happened to my alarm clock?
I sat bolt upright in my bed. I had Calculus at eight. I was not going to miss it.
Two minutes to class. I was standing on the wrong side of Guadalupe, on the west border of campus, and class was on the east border of campus. I had just sprinted a quarter mile from the parking garage to here, and I had another half mile to go. In two minutes.
The crosswalk signal turned green. I ran.
“It’s locked.” The door to the auditorium had been locked. I stepped back to consider my options and catch my breath. Sweat was pouring over my abused body like a shower.
Then a girl opened the door, and I entered Calculus class. Thankfully the TA accepted my homework late.
Whether my grade on it will be above a zero is still unknown.
From there my day just about leveled off. I went to my Computer Science discussion section at the wrong time, and it was mildly awkward showing up to both of them. But I survived to tell the tale.