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The trip to bountiful, too

Bus301rAs the brakes on the bus that isn't really a bus whoosh, the driver -- a calming soul with a Chicago Bulls cap pulled down low over his ears -- says, "OK, folks, just one more pick up."

The doors open and Jonathan Winters, looking to be in his mid-30s and grinning from ear to ear, bounds up the steps.  "Man, this is the best I've felt my entire life," Winters blurts.

"Your entire what," a serious, but polite and slightly giddy British woman replies.

"Hey, you look like ... you are Margaret Thatcher," Winters almost shouts.  "And isn't that Annette Funicello across the aisle?  I remember her.  She looks great, in fact young and energetic enough to put those Mickey Mouse Club ears back on.  Say, what's going on here?"

"You'll understand soon, Mr. Winters.  Just relax and rest assured that we're off to someplace wonderful and without prejudices of any kind.  There will be no such thing as liberals or conservatives, racial tension or even pain and suffering."

(Thatcher, with a knowing smile, nods in the direction of a woman a few seats away.)  "Isn't that right?"

"Right you are, ma'am."

"Please forgive me," Winters says to the other woman, "but I don't recognize you."

"Call me Casino Sue, Mr. Winters.  I've been a fan of yours since I saw you do that Maude Frickert routine on 'The Tonight Show' way back when Johnny Carson was host.  You were one funny lady.  I mean ... well, you know what I mean."

"Of course, Sue.  Thanks," Winters responds.

"Hey, Maggie.  May I call you Maggie, Mrs. Thatcher?"

"If you don't mind, Mr. Winters, Margaret will do."

"Sorry, ma'am.  Of course.  I meant no disrespect.  Hey, Maggie ... just kidding, loosen up a little, who's that guy hunched over that iPhone up in front of us?"

"That's Roger Ebert," Thatcher replies.  "He's been trying to send a text message to his wife and Tweets to his thousands of followers the whole trip."

Ebert scratches out a quick note and hands it to Thatcher:  "I have 600,000 online friends and fans who count on me.  I can't reach them."

"You've already reached them, Roger, and you'll always be in their hearts.  Don't worry, you won't be forgotten.  As for Chaz, your loving wife and helpmate will join you sooner than you can imagine," Thatcher says.

"Excuse me, Roger, but why are you writing notes anyway," Winters asks.

"I lost my voice years ago in a horrible bout with cancer," Ebert says.  "I can't speak."

"Well, you just did, bub," Winters replies with his impeccable comic timing.

"I did, didn't I," Ebert beams, looking like he did in his heyday.

"You sure did, Roger," the bus driver says calmly as he turns around and removes his Bulls cap.

"Gene ... Gene Siskel!  You old son-of-a-gun," Roger shouts.  "Great to see you!  But don't you need to keep your hands on the wheel?"

"I'm not really driving this bus, Roger.  I just like to keep two thumbs up there on the wheel for old times sake."

"Say, are we there yet?  How long will this trip take, anyway," Winters asks.

"Do you want to tell him or should I," Siskel asks his passengers.

In unison, Margaret Thatcher, Roger Ebert, Annette Funicello, Jack Pardee, Bonnie Franklin and Casino Sue (Taylor) say, "A blink of an eye."

(Bus image courtesy:  John Mattos/oneearth.org)


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