Saturday September 30th 2023

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Returning: The Final Chapter

Chapter 34: GET ON THE BUS!


a photo of the author
Patrick Cabello Hansel

The bus station for the flight of Angel and Luz and family is not a station per se. It’s not a building, but a stop, where people make passage to a new life, or return to an old one. If you’re thinking: Like Platform 9¾ in Harry Potter? You’re way off. Or maybe, you’re right on. It’s a stop that is visible to everyone but is accessible to few. Put that in your recently legal pipe and smoke it!
To be less cryptic, it’s the corner of Bloomington and Lake Street, where you can board a bus to Des Moines, Kansas City, Dallas, the two Laredos, Monterrey and all points south. It’s the bus of dreams and broken dreams. When our family arrived there, they were met by people they knew: Angel’s father Augusto, Luz’ abuela, Dolores, Luz’ boss, Angel’s boss and Mr. Bussey, recently retired from Roosevelt.
Of course, there were hugs and tears, and the parents asked everyone if they had seen little Lupe. Everyone just nodded toward the bus. Augusto handed Angel two backpacks, and bags with food and juices and gave them the stubs for the luggage already stowed underneath. Dolores gave Luz two beautifully embroidered blankets for the family’s journey, and a small satchel with healing herbs.
Then Lefty’s brother Karl, the ex-FBI agent, handed them a large envelope.
“Your tickets are inside,” he said. “And enough money to get you started. Here are two cell phones that won’t be traced to you. They have all the numbers you need in them. And your passports.”
“Our passports?” Luz and Angel shouted at the same time. “Where are we going? And where is Lupe?”
Mr. Bussey, the former history teacher, spoke next, “You’ve been to this neighborhood’s past tonight,” He said, “Now you will go deeper into your past. Open the envelope once you’ve left the city.”
Without waiting for a response from their troubled faces, Mother Light added, “And you will find a future—not just for you, but for this place. But quickly, get on the bus, it’s leaving! Lupe is there!”
Luz ran up the bus steps, Angel picked up Angelito and followed. At first they didn’t see Lupe, but then she appeared, sitting in a middle row, next to an older woman who looked familiar.
“Lupita!” Luz shouted and hugged her. Angel and their son joined in.
“Where have you been?” the parents asked her. “We’ve been looking all over for you!”
Luz looked at her parents tenderly and said in a voice beyond her years, “I’ve been waiting for you guys. Where have you been?”
The bus jerked into gear suddenly, and Angel and Luz almost fell. The older woman got up and started leaving, turning only to reveal that she was Agnes, but transformed, softer, brighter. Agnes! How did she get on the bus with Lupe, when she had been standing behind Luz and Angel the whole time?
She turned and looked at the little family, now all seated in one row. There was a radiant sadness to her face, and a quiet in her voice.
“You can see that I am more than one person,” she said. “I am sorry for the pain I caused you. I hope you can forgive me. And I hope that the gifts you have received in this trial, this journey that has only started will bless all of you.”
And then she was gone.
When they got out of the city, Angel opened the envelope. In it were new passports for all four of them, a thousand dollars in cash, and tickets to Guanajuato. A city steeped in the history of the Mexican people, where both Angel and Luz had roots.
Lupe and her brother laughed and played together for hours until they fell fast asleep. Luz and Angel held each other, talked for hours and hours, and wondered what in the world they had gotten into.
Next month: an epilogue, a body, an invitation.

Patrick Cabello Hansel is a retired pastor, having served with his wife for 15 years at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Phillips. He spends his days writing poetry and fiction, gardening and yelling at the TV.

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