What is six seconds? What difference can six seconds make? Count to six. Now read on. If you wish.

9:30 p.m. on a Sunday night. With the zombies still freshly implanted in our brrrrraaaaaains. The car pushing the radar made the Greyhound with minutes to spare. Say very quick and sad good-bye to some of the greatest people on this planet. And the strangest weekend weather. That’s life and weather in the land of the lake effect and the furies.

9:35 p.m. on the road to Fort Erie and the Canadian Border.

9:50 p.m. or so the bus arrives at the border and we wait while the bus passengers ahead are being processed.

10: p.m. Time for interrogation.

10:10 p.m. That was easy. CBP looks at passport, where do you live, when did you leave the country. We don’t even mention roller derby. Anything to declare? Alcohol? How much currency are you carrying? Twenty bucks? You’re free to go.

11:11 p.m. Still at the border. One person is being held up. We’re supposed to be in Toronto by 12:30? Driver takes a wild guess at 1:30 a.m. ETA in Toronto. And still ahead Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Mississauga. At this rate we’ll be lucky to catch the last subway train on the TTC. Thoughts of taking the all-night Yonge Bus fill me with dread or waiting in Burger King downtown all night until the subway runs at 6 in the morning. The Cheetos and water in the suitcase – too worried to eat, and trying to drink as little water as possible. It’s supposed to have been only a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

Time becomes relative and absolute around here.

Sometime after midnight. It’s dark in the bus on this highway to nowhere. Believe it or not, there are people waiting to get back to Toronto. The station is long gone shut down. Enough yapping! Get on the bus…

And again. It’s way past 12:30 a.m. The bus driver peers into the dark and there is someone waiting by the corner store in St. Catharines. She’s trying to get to Vancouver and the connection is at one a.m. Bus driver tells her she’s not going to make it. She gets assurances that she can her ticket in the morning. She doesn’t want to wait 12 hours at the bus terminal. Who does? She goes back to her house. Everybody is in the same boat.

Next stop Mississauga. The bus goes dark again. A Kind Of Blue the Miles Davis classic is on our earphones and the full moon looks pretty and bright so low in the sky.

1:11 a.m. Mississauga Value Point Mall. There are cars in the parking lot with people waiting for people. Tempted to ask someone out there if he can drive to Kipling Station before the subway closes. Lots of chatty people get out and get their suitcases. go go go !

Sometime later. The lights of downtown somewhere. Passing under a bridge. Construction signs on University and Queen. Taxi ahead of bus drives away. Turn right on Dundas and University and there is Bay Street.

1:35 a.m. Last suitcase dragged out of bus. Don’t even want to go through the maze of doors in the Atrium. With two suitcases in hand, and heavy duty camera bag over the shoulder, just start walking as far and fast as we can on Dundas Street towards the direction of the Eaton Centre. With last subway time of 1:47 a.m. in our mind we should be home clear but we still walk as fast as we can. The barrista in the bubble tea shop is closing down the doors for the night and the lady in front of the warm launderette smokes her last cigarette.

Red light at Yonge and Dundas. 3 2 1

Cross cross cross.

Janitor washing doors at the entranceway won’t let me through so it’s two suitcases through the revolving doors! and the escalator down. Turn right.

There is no collector at the booth. Last train 1:42 a.m. We hear the whoosn we feel the whoosh of the train. How to get through? We push the suitcases under the barriers and plough through the turnstile.

The train is already in and the whistle has blown. Pick up the suitcases upside down and drag and run through the shutting door. We made it. No time to spare.

That’s what a difference six seconds would have made.

I’ve got a theory it could be zombies!

The continuation of the journey. Finally arrive at our last subway stop. Eglinton Station. Wait another 20 minutes for the Lawrence 54 bus leaving at 2:15 a.m. It’s cold in the station but definitely not Furies weather. Bus stops at our corner. It’s close to quarter to three. Drag suitcases in and the first thing we hear is the puppy scratching at the door to go outside.

We’re home. But our real home is somewhere out there on the other side of the night – all of it revolving around rolling around a track. And in some way in some fashion, we do this every week.

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