It’s coming up on Halloween. The air is finally getting colder, the days are shorter, and a mix of fallen leaves and election flyers start clogging the storm drains. As we stand on the point of transition into the dark half of the year, a ghost story — or a fairy tale, depending on your point of view — seems an appropriate way to mark the season.
There is a bus in Philadelphia which SEPTA does not talk about. It is not listed on the website. It has neither schedule nor route. It drives the city in a pattern known only to its driver, and perhaps not even to him. Its electronic reader board never displays a number, only “SEPTA.” People who know it call it the Zero, the Random Bus, the Wandering Bus, or just The Bus. It is not a bus for people who know where they want to go. It is a bus for departures.
The Bus has a way of showing up when you are at your lowest. You will hit a certain point, feel a disconcerting crumple in an inner place you thought solid, like a hand crushing an origami box. Just then you look up to see The Bus a block away. You always need to run for it, but just a little bit. Just enough to show you need it. It will wait.