Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
On the winding road down the Croatian coast, a couple gazes toward the turquoise sea one usually only glimpses in movies. She sighs, ”We’re driving in the clouds.” But he grumbles: “It’s just a high fog, you know.” She sighs again.
Under the rosary that hung from the rearview mirror and no-smoking sticker mandated by the bus line, the driver expertly lights a cigarette. Nobody moves, except to blink in their nicotine envy.
An antique woman flags down the bus. She climbs the stairs quickly, then returns to feeble as she stares down a tourist occupying the front seat. The tourist hoists his backpack onto his lap to make room, then tries to read his guidebook under a pile of gear. The old woman makes loud small talk with the driver for about five minutes, then he drops her off where she points, though it seems the middle of nowhere. She pats the driver’s shoulder and casts a long glare at the tourist before departing into a field.
The driver stops to fuel up. He puts on a little plastic glove to pump the gas, absurd fastidiousness for the burly road wrangler. At a border crossing, he paces impatiently. The passengers inside look out at his ceaseless cigarettes and make small moans. As the time drags on he kicks his own tires. Eventually, the guards in their powder blue polyester coats hand over the stack of his passengers’ passports and he leaps into the bus, hoisting the pile at the wayward tourist. “Give.” He points to the rear of the bus, fires up the engine, drives onward. The tourist takes his duty very seriously, very slowly, glancing through each passport to find his own, then attempting to identify his fellow travelers by their photos.
Days seem to pass before someone intervenes. A man in sunglasses, several gold chains, and a matching running suit stands and seizes the documents. He gazes out over the crowd–and his painstakingly-tended chest hair–and starts reading the names aloud. Owners raise their hands politely. He has little trouble with the local names, spots a German girl without trouble, but laughs out loud before hunting for: “Suzuki? Suzuki?”
When Suzuki extends his arm and claims his passport, the golden volunteer pats the visitor firmly on his shoulder. Tourists note this as a gesture they might try later, if necessary, to make inroads on such curved journeys.
-Somewhere between Split, Croatia and Budva, Montenegro.