They call Orlando, Florida “The City Beautiful,” but there’s nothing beautiful about waking up at a bus stop at 4 A.M. not knowing how you got there and clutching a grocery bag containing nothing other than eight jars of tikka masala sauce.
Eight jars? Why eight? Hell, why tikka masala? I mean, I like Indian food, but what the hell? That’s all that’s in the bag. No meat or veggies of any kind. No naan. Just the sauce. And the bag is one of those generic white plastic “thank you” bags. Not a Publix bag or even Walgreens. What…the…hell?
Even at 4 A.M. it’s hot in this freaking city. Sun’s not up and it’s probably already 80 degrees in August.
When most people think or hear “Orlando” they only think of one thing. Disney. Mickey Mouse in all his splendor. Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, all those guys. I can’t really knock it though, since I’m one of the elite. That’s right, I’m a Disney Cast Member. And it’s not too bad. I take Mickey around to his different locations where he gives autographs and hugs to kids and even grownups. Not to sound sappy, but seeing little kids light up at the sight of that overgrown Mouse doesn’t get old. They love him and are oblivious to how much their parents scrimped and saved to get into the park, or what a hassle it was to travel from every part of the world to get here. All they know is that they are there, at Disney and for them it really is the most magical place on earth. Ah, for life to be that simple.
Anyway, that’s what people think Orlando is. And it is. But this grungy bus stop on E. Colonial Drive is just as much Orlando as Disney World or Epcot and far less magical. Not the best place for a girl to be alone in the dark.
But how on earth did I get here?
I remember little bits of things. Like strobe light memories. I went to a friend’s house. We watched a movie, some chick flick. I don’t know. I wasn’t paying much attention. Then there was a bright light. Like when somebody pulls into your driveway and their high beams are aimed into your living room window. That’s when things get fuzzy. I remember feeling like something was wrong, but I don’t know specifically why. I looked at the clock on my cell phone and it read 12:00am before the screen just blanked out.
My pulse started racing as I looked over at my friend. She was asleep and I was starting to feel drowsy too. I stood up, tried to fight the oncoming darkness, but I couldn’t. My legs went all rubbery and I collapsed, hitting my head on the coffee table as I went down.
The next thing I remember is knowing I was lying down on something hard, like the floor. There were muffled sounds and strange looking people standing over me. Their features were odd, like they were wearing masks. One wore Mickey Mouse ears, the other wore a Snow White dress. There was a bright light behind them, like an overhead lamp or something, so I couldn’t tell where we were.
“We want to go to Disney World.”
“It’s closed,” I mumbled.
The two, people, although I suspect they weren’t human, conferred with each other.
“We don’t care. We want to go.” Their English was good, but their accents were strange and unrecognizable to my foggy mind.
“You can’t. It’s closed. Who are you?”
“We have come a long way and we demand to meet Mickey! We know that you work for him. You will take us to him.” The one in the Snow White dress leaned over and whispered into the other’s ear. “Yes, and we also want to meet Jack Sparrow.”
My vision grew less and less blurry and I could see that whatever these things were, they were wearing masks. When they spoke, their mouths didn’t move the right way, and their expressionless faces didn’t match the apparent anger they held at my not taking them to Mickey Mouse.
“Look Jack Sparrow isn’t a real person, and Mickey Mouse is just a guy in a suit. I’m not taking you to freakin’ Disney World!”
They looked at each other. They whispered something I couldn’t understand, in a language I couldn’t for the life of me place. Then they turned back to me.
“A guy in a suit?” the one with the ears asked.
They whispered to each other again then said, “Thank you for the truth,” before everything went blank again.
Which brings me to this bus stop and my lifetime supply of tikka masala sauce. I’m guessing one of two things happened. I was abducted by aliens who had a burning desire to go to Disney, or I dreamed the whole thing and somehow slept walked to the bus stop. The latter, oddly enough, is the less likely scenario, since I’ve never slept walked in my life and I had driven to my friend’s house, not taken the bus.
Whatever happened, luckily, I don’t seem to be hurt, and I just got a text from my friend saying she’s sorry she fell asleep and hopes I made it home ok. So I guess she’s ok, too. Good news.
I’ll just chalk all this up to just another day in The City Beautiful. So whether I was abducted by aliens or I slept walk, it still doesn’t explain the tikka masala.