The Italian Rock Star!

Depositphotos_12745465_xsOur bus driver boarded and stood before us. He had the air of a rock star and I wondered if he expected applause. He took his throne behind the wheel, lit a cigarette, and touched the medal of Saint Christopher hanging from the rear view mirror. We passengers took a collective breath.

This guy belonged to an elite fraternity of licensed drivers with special training (at least that’s what we were told) for this particular mission –a fifty mile drive along the seaside cliffs between Sorrento and Amalfi.

Lee and Shari sat behind the driver, and the rest of us fell in behind them. Donna sat by the window. After an uneventful trek though the streets of Sorrento, the bus slowly began ascending a steep road. Suddenly, the most beautiful view appeared through the giant windshield – powder blue sky hovering over a shimmering bay. Our bus thrust forward and just when it seemed we’d propel directly into the water below, our driver muscled a hard left. I grabbed the plastic handles on the seat in front of me. Our bus tires gripped the narrow, curvy road hundreds of feet above a rocky shoreline below. The road was so narrow I assumed it was one-way. Suddenly an oncoming car appeared and it looked to hit us head-on. I felt a jolt of panic through my body and extreme pain in my fingers as Donnas clench on my hand became a vise-like grip. A scream was forming in my gut and making it’s way up my throat when the car safely cleared the left side of our bus. Lee’s eyes followed it through his window. He looked back and gave a thumbs up.

Entering a cliff side village, our driver applied the brakes as another bus approached us. I waited for one of the two to pull over. Instead, they stopped, opened their windows and started talking -  a full on conversation at the top of their lungs – complete with hand gestures – probably part of the routine for the fraternal brotherhood of Amalfi bus drivers. The sound of car horns grew loud and the drivers bid each other arrivederci.  The bus passed, so close you couldn’t pass dental floss between us.

The road became more perilous. The captain of this five-ton bullet appeared controlled and calm – unlike us. Donna grabbed my hand once again and asked to change seats. Her pale face told me she’d had enough. I took her seat and immediately sympathized with her. There was nothing separating us from the 500-foot plunge to the waves smacking the rocky coast below. The fact that I could see the beach directly below us was wrong on so many levels.

Buildings appeared in the distance and we all felt relief. Our driver downshifted and we gently coasted down toward the warm colors of the village now bathed in afternoon sunshine. Spring fever seemed to be in the air as we saw visitors walked barefoot along the shore. When the bus stopped we stood up and applauded. Our driver stood up, turned to face us, took a final drag from his cigarette and bowed his head.

“Can we get Gelato?”  Chris asked, stepping down from the bus.

“You can have anything you want!” Shari said, clutching the railing as she made her way down the steps. When my feet hit the asphalt, I headed directly toward the nearest ticket booth.

“Where are you going Dad?”

“To see if there’s a boat back to Sorrento.”

Next: The Love of Family


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