…co-starring her best buddy, Herman Yankdoodle
As most of you know, I started a dedicated story blog for “Life On The Magic Bus”. Sadly, it got almost no traffic, so I’m closing it up and porting all of the chapters over here. They’ll appear 3-4 at a time for a few days. After that, I’ll try to post new chapters every week or so. I’ll also be getting new Doclopedia entries up.
Life On The Magic Bus
Doc gets a bus
Grace has her doubts
Grace Clay was just about to succumb to the warm spring sun and doze off in her chair on the front porch when the dogs, Sasha & Lucy, started barking and ran toward the front gate.
“Is that the Dad Unit, girls?”, Grace asked the basset hound and the basset/coonhound mix. It was a redundant question, because they had a special bark for Doc, her husband. Her husband who had left three days ago to look at a used school bus that could be converted into “a hippie RV”. Her husband, who later sent her a text that he was “in a poker game with four British rubes” in an effort to win said bus. It was, he had assured her, “the coolest bus you will ever see”. She took this with a grain of salt because Doc could sometimes get a touch hyperbolic. Actually, he was very often hyperbolic.
(Narrator: Grace left out manic and excitable.)
Now she could hear the sound of the bus coming over the small hill between the house and the road. It wasn’t nearly as loud as you might expect a big school bus to be. Then it crested the hill and pulled up in front of the house and she found out why.
It was a short bus, painted up in a tie dye design and sporting a digital destination sign above the front window that read “Middle Earth” in flashing green letters. It looked like it was in perfect shape, but…
…it was a SHORT BUS! Taking a deep breath, Grace got up and began walking toward the gate. She would be having words with Doc, oh yes.
Lucy and Sasha watched the bus roll up.
“Dang,” said the older dog to the pup, “That bus is a whole lot smaller than I expected. How are we all going to fit in that?”
Sasha, who agreed that it looked too small, said “Maybe Daddy was thinking about towing a trailer or something. Whatever, Mom doesn’t look pleased.”
The not very pleased Mom Unit stood at the gate with her hands on her hips and a stern look on her face.
(Narrator: AKA the Universal Sign of an Upset Wife/Mother.)
A few seconds later, the bus door, which looked like a regular front door, opened and a small ramp extended down to the ground. Grace had to admit that was a nice touch.
“I was wondering how my short legs would manage to get on the bus. Ten points to House Dad”, Sasha said. Lucy nodded agreement.
Doc stepped off the bus with a big smile on his face, He was wearing a blue t-shirt that had “Crazy Old Fart” printed on it and a red bandana with little white stars. He blue jeans were faded nearly white. He was, as usual, barefoot.
(Narrator: Doc has size 12EEEE feet. They tend to destroy shoes after a couple of months. Therefore, he often just goes without shoes altogether. He claims to be part hobbit.)
Upon seeing that Grace was less than amused, he greeted her with a big hug and kiss, then said, “Hello, My Sweet Little Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel Of Love! My keen husbandly senses tell me that you are not totally happy.”
(Narrator: Yes, he really does call her things like that.)
Grace stepped back half a pace. She would not succumb to his rascally charm. “That is a short bus. It’s way too small for…”
“Now, baby, just let me explain and show you the inside.”
“Don’t you now baby me, mister! How the hell are both of us and three dogs supposed to live in that for months at a time?” She was now giving Doc “The Look”, which all husbands & children know only too well. However, after nearly 40 years of marriage, Doc had built up something of an immunity.
(Narrator: Also, he liked living dangerously.)
Doc kept smiling. “Just give me a chance, My Sweet Little Chocolate Chip Cookie Of Sweetness? Would I mess up something important?”
“You got us both shot in Prague. THAT was important.”
“Aww, Grace, those were mere flesh wounds. We don’t even have scars from them anymore. Besides, we ended up blowing Kalyakov and those other bastards up, so it was all good. Just take a look inside, ok? If you don’t like it, I sell the bus tomorrow. Hell, it’s not like I spent any money on it. Those Brits sucked at Texas Hold ‘Em.”
She looked at him, but her expression was softening.
“Did you cheat?”
A look of mock surprise came over him.
“Why, my dear, I am shocked and saddened that you would think that I might stoop to cheating to win this fine bus off those fellows. And I only had to cheat a little. They really did suck at poker. Who the hell stays in when the other guy has aces showing? Now come on and bring The Girls. Y’all are gonna see some really cool shit.”
(Narrator: Yes, The Girls is always capitalized. I have no idea why. I told you he was strange.)
Grace and the dogs followed Doc up the ramp and into the cab of the bus. Grace noticed that the dashboard had more gauges and readouts than most buses. The driver’s seat looked more like a big comfy recliner than a regular bus driver’s seat.
A second door, which was bright blue and seemed to be made of some kind of metal embossed with a big question mark, lead into the rest of the bus. Doc opened it and stepped through, with the others following him.
When we use the phrase “jaw dropping”, we do not mean that jaws actually hit the floor, but the jaws of Grace, Lucy & Sasha certainly tried. In addition, all of their eyes opened wider than any previous time in their lives.
The bus was bigger…WAY bigger…on the inside.
Grace is boggled
Doc gives a tour
The Cheshire Cat would have been impressed by the smile on Doc’s face as he watched his wife of 37 years try to form words to express her surprise. It was a pretty rare thing for Grace to be without something to say about something he had done. He rather enjoyed it.
The room they were standing in was at least 90 feet on a side. The walls were lined with book cases and flat panel television screens and shelves. Two hallways lead off to the left and right. There was an elevator in the rear that lead up to a mezzanine level. Grace was pretty sure the elevator was an exact copy of the one in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles. She had to remind herself to breath.
(Narrator: The elevator in question and the interior of the Bradbury Building have been used in about a zillion movies and television shows. You’ve all seen it. Google it if you don’t believe me.)
On one side of the elevator there was an adult sized spiral playground slide, on the other, a gleaming brass firehouse pole. The room was furnished with about a dozen sofas, at least that many recliners and plenty of coffee & end tables. There were two door on the rear wall. One was labeled “Chocolate Closet” and the other “SmartBot Central”. The room had a hardwood floor. It smelled lightly of gardenias and pizza.
In Canine, Lucy could only say “Hommina hommina hommina!”
Sasha could only say “WOW!
Doc put his arm around Grace’s waist and chuckled.
“This is the living room. Up there are the 12 bedrooms, each with it’s own bathroom. You like?”
“Holy shit!”, was all that she could say. Then, she said it three more times, once each in Spanish, German and Mandarin.
(Narrator: Between them, Grace & Doc know about two dozen languages.)
Shaking off her stunned state, Lucy looked around, nearly as amazed as Mom was. As boggled as she was by what she saw, she was even more boggled by the things she smelled. More than a few of them were totally unknown to her.
“Curl my tail and call me Porky, this is a totally strange deal right here.” The hound dog had to sit down to try and take this all in. Her younger sister, however, was running forward to leap onto a sofa.
“Oh heck yes!”, Sasha barked as she landed on the very soft and comfy sofa. “Miles and miles of wonderful well padded furniture for us to sleep on!” She flopped over on her back and began wriggling in joy. Doc walked over and rubbed her tummy.
“Well, it looks like Sasha approves of things. Now come on, My Sweet Little Dumbstruck Cherub Of Cuteness, and let me show you all of the other rooms.”
Grace blinked at him. “There are more rooms? How is all of this even possible?”
(Narrator: Yes, I was waiting for somebody to ask that, too.)
As he took her hand, Doc shrugged and said “Far as I can tell, it’s some goofy quantum physics shit. Made my eyes cross to listen to the Brit with the long assed scarf describe it, even when the one with the fez tried to simplify things. I figure, if it works, it works.”
(Narrator: Doc tends to take a pretty casual view of practical science.)
When they started down the aptly named Left Hallway…
(Narrator: Which was only on their left once they were facing the front of the bus. Port/Starboard for you old salts.)
…they saw that it stretched at least 100 feet and had five doors on each side and one at the end. To make a long story short, they saw…
The Kitchen/Dining Room, both halves of which were five star restaurant quality.
The Pantry, that under other circumstances would have been called a small supermarket.
The Movie Room, which could seat up to 100 people in comfy recliners, each of which had a built in drink dispenser on the right and a snack dispenser on the left.
The Slide Room, where there were long connected slides on the floor, ceiling and all four walls. Doc showed them how it worked and soon he and Sasha were sliding around at high speed in gravity defying directions.
(Narrator: At this point, both Grace and Lucy had to have a sit down for a few minutes.)
The Wardrobe Room, which was larger than their farmhouse and had a dizzying array of clothing, from shoes to hats.
The Greenhouse, a huge structure that was lit by the light of two suns.
(Narrator: At this point, both Grace and Doc had to have a sit down for a few minutes.)
The Library, possibly the largest room on the bus. Four stories high and it went on until it was lost in the distance.
(Narrator: Grace, an avid reader since age 4, squeed at the sight of this. Doc immediately gained 1.5 million Husband Points)
The Pool, Olympic sized and heated.
The Gym, which had exercise equipment for both humans and dogs.
The Game Room, which had thousands of games of all sorts, from tabletop RPGs to video and computer games. There was also a pool table and a few pinball machines.
The Meadow Room, wherein there was in fact a five acre meadow with stout fencing, clover, flowers, shrubs, a few shade trees and assorted small wildlife.
(Narrator: Everybody had to have a sit down in this room.)
After settling their nerves in the Meadow Room, they checked out the Right Hallway, which had fewer rooms.
The Warehouse, while not as large as the Library, was still humongous and full of all sizes of crates. Doc wondered aloud if the Ark of the Covenant might not be in here somewhere. For whatever reason, Grace did not find that amusing.
The Room of Relaxation, which only allowed one person through the door at a time and presented a different room to each one.
The Museum, containing various items from the lives of Doc & Grace, including holograms made from family photos. Several items in the room were things Doc & Grace has thought lost or destroyed, such as their highly customized 1970 Corvette convertible.
And finally, The Shoe Room. As they stopped at the slightly open door to this room, all Grace had to say was “What the hell?”
Doc opened the door and there was, as advertised, a 40 X 40 foot room filled with large piles of shoes of all types. New shoes, old shoes, men’s, women’s & children’s shoes. Some of the piles were six or seven feet tall.
“Well, there’s something you don’t see every day. Look at all those shoes.”
(Narrator: Among other things, Doc is known for his use of understatement just when you expect his hyperbole.)
Grace was about to point out that a room full of shoes was pretty underwhelming in this place, but was interrupted by Winker popping out from beneath the nearest pile of shoes and shouting “Oh man, do I ever LOVE this bus!”
In English. That all of them heard. Through a small round device on her collar.
Drinks are poured
Stunned only for a moment, because she was a former spy, Grace whirled around and grabbed Doc by the shirt, jerking him close and saying in a low voice, “You will explain this right now or it will be Karachi all over again.”
Wide eyed, Doc quietly said, “The bus makes dogs and other critters smart and she’s wearing a Multiversal Translator. Her thoughts, if she chooses, are translated into English or whatever language is needed. We hear her voice in our heads.”
“That’s right, Mom, I’m smart now,” Winker said. Her voice sounded like Sigourney Weaver. “Well, I was always smart for a dog, but now, I’m smart for a human.”
Sasha looked at Lucy and said, in Canine, “This is the coolest thing EVER! We’ll be able to TALK!”
Lucy nodded. “I may never leave this bus.”
Grace let go of Doc and started back toward the living room. Everyone else followed her. She sat down on a sofa and Winker jumped up next to her.
“I know this is a shock, Mom, but before this goes any further, let me finally say to you in a way you will understand that I love you, mom. You have been a great mother since you started bottle feeding me at two weeks old. Heck, you’re the only real mother I remember.”
Grace blinked a couple of times, then burst into tears and hugged Winker tightly. This went on for a couple of minutes.
(Narrator: Despite them both being worldly and all, Grace and Doc are also big old sentimental softies.)
Doc walked over to a bookcase, pressed inwardly on a copy of “How To Train Your Bartender” and then stepped behind the full service bar that extended out from the wall as the wall itself slid up into…somewhere.
Quick as a wink, he had mixed up or poured five drinks and carried them over to the assembled females.
“Sweetheart, a whiskey sour for you. Winker, a beef broth martini, shaken, not stirred, with two olives. Lucy, spring water with a dash of pureed liver and a twist of jerky. Sasha, goat milk and peanut butter in a highball glass. For me, a glass of 12 year old private reserve scotch. And now a toast. To humans, dogs, love and the Magic Bus!”
They all toasted, then took a good long drink
“So,” Winker asked after they finished their drinks, “where are we going to go first?”