Opal met up with Daniel at their Blue Line stop and she was clearly excited. Today, they were spending time together in Downtown Bluewater and this would be Daniel’s first time with someone other than family. True, Opal earned Daniel’s sister Rowena’s trust after what happened to his cousin Caroline, but this was his first time “alone in public” with Opal.The Blue Line dropped them off at the Transit Center at 10:25 AM – it was the first bus (as usual) to get to the transit center – and Opal said, “You wanted to try the Downtown Hop.”
“That’s right,” Daniel said. The Red Line was Bluewater’s new Downtown shuttle and was something different. Bluewater Transit drivers were encouraged to keep a conversation with passengers and the radio was encouraged to be played at a reasonable volume (to please the greedy lawyers, the Town of Bluewater paid for a catalogue of songs).
They hopped onto the Red Line and Opal immediately blushed. The operator was playing the album Hearts on the Go and the song that was playing was When I Start to Sing the Blues (You Put on my Dancin’ Shoes), which was the song her mother fell in love with her step-father (who, to her, was more a true father than her real father ever was) with. They sat down and Daniel noticed her blushing and asked, “What’s up Opal?”
She started giggling some more and started hugging Daniel. He tried again, “What’s up with you today?”
Since drivers on the Hop were encouraged to have conversation with passengers, the driver was paying attention. He tuned to another track and said, “Daniel, I think she is trying to say she loves you.”
The operator then got on the radio, “Data Collector 8, this is Red 5. Call me on Channel 4.”
Daniel blushed. He knew his father was on duty as a BT data collector and he knew that Channel 4 was Bluewater Transit’s radio channel used for extended conversations. Opal, not knowing BT as well, didn’t realize what was happening.
“This is Data Collector 8 on Channel 4, go ahead Jack,” Daniel heard his father say over the radio.
He blushed even further, hoping against hope that no one would try to pull any pranks.
“Michael, your son is on my bus and I think he found himself a girlfriend,” Jack said over the radio.
“You do know he listens to the bus radio and I’m sure he is listening to our conversation,” Michael replied.
Realizing what was happening, BT Dispatch came over Channel 4 and said, “Dispatch: let us handle this.” Then, over the Passenger PA System, “Good morning Daniel Ragsdale, this is Bluewater Dispatch. We have a special treat for you. All operators, discontinue playing your radio – we’re going to take it from here.”
Over the PA system on every Bluewater Transit bus, Dispatch played Time I Fall (In Love) which got both of them going. Dispatch continued on the radio, “DC-8 and Red 5, continue your conversation on Channel 2. We’re going to brighten everyone’s day with this.”
Opal blurted out, “Please change back to the other song.” She then continued giggling and hugging Daniel.
“Dispatch, this is Red 5. She’s blushing,” Jack said.
“This is Purple 1. My passengers are getting a kick out of this,” Another operator called over the radio.
“What time will they be catching the Blue Line,” Another operator called over the radio, laughing.
Soon, all of Bluewater heard the news. By now, Opal had that “I’m in Love” smirk that just couldn’t go away.
“DC-8, this is Dispatch.”
Daniel’s father said, “Go ahead Dispatch.”
“We’re going to let you ride the Blue Line tonight to take your lovebirds home,” Dispatch said.
“10-4,” He said, “But you do realize my son pays attention to the bus radio and can hear everything.”
“We know that,” Dispatch said (and they meant it: they honestly knew Daniel listened to the bus radios)
By now, Daniel couldn’t contain himself. He whispered to Opal, “We need to be on the Blue Line no later than 4:30 since they’re letting my dad do Data Collection duty on the night bus.”
“DC-8, this is Red 5,” Jack said very quietly into the radio (Daniel still heard).
“Go Ahead Red 5,” Michael said.
“Daniel knows and plans on catching the 4:30 bus,” Jack said.
Michael replied, “But their play gets out at 4. No way they’re catching 4:30 at the Center.”
The Dispatcher got on the radio, “Dispatch to Operator 23.”
“This is 23, go ahead Dispatch,” Someone said.
“You copy about the 4:30 Blue,” Dispatch asked.
“10-4,” Erin replied, laughing.
“We have a plan. DC-8, please return to the office,” Dispatch said.
“I will be on the next Green Line. I’m currently on Purple 2 just leaving the Base,” Michael replied.
“Crap,” Daniel moaned. He knew Erin and knew she would make him wait until the 5:30 trip just to mess with him. He knew she would take him to East End Library and back to Bluewater Center and “forget” his stop on Indigo and Sumner just for this reason. He explained it to Opal who was confused.
Daniel rang the bell at their stop for the Downtown Theater. There was a play that they were heading to, but now Daniel was nervous. Opal was still extremely giggly. “Opal, you really need to calm down,” Daniel said.
She tried, but was clearly on one of those laughing tangents. Thinking quickly, Daniel pulled up the music store on his phone and his store credit reset for the month so he could buy 5 albums, so he purchased Hearts on the Go. That did it. He thought Opal was giggly before?
“Alright Opal, you really need to calm down,” Daniel said as he started hugging her. He decided the giggling was funny on the bus, but now they had a play they were going to attend.
She tried to stop giggling, but it wasn’t much use. Secretly, she loved Daniel, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready to tell him.
The play was over, and they just barely made the bus back to Center. “BLUEWATER TRANSIT RED LINE HOP GOING TO SAV-A-BUCK via MAIN STREET,” The automated voice called out as the bus doors opened for Daniel, Opal, and a few others waiting.
They got on the bus to head home. “DC-8, come in Michael,” the driver called over the bus radio.
“Crap,” Daniel uttered. He knew his father was on standby to ride the evening Blue Line.
“This is DC-8. I take it you have my son,” He replied.
“10-4. I’ll be at BTC in about 10 minutes. I’m Bus 112 on the Inbound Red,” The operator replied.
“Damn,” Daniel whispered as he looked at Opal’s watch. They would be arriving at the transit center at 5:25, and sure enough: he would be riding the bus home with his father. Opal would be on the bus also because they shared a duplex.
She was no longer as giggly as she was this morning, but she was hoping her hugs were conveying the message she wanted. She loved Daniel and she knew that Rowena – Daniel’s older sister – approved of her, but only if she kept it as friends. She knew that if she broke his sister’s trust, she would be cut off, neighbor or not (Rowena was very protective of her brother ever since his “girlfriend problems” back in Va Beach).
Moments later, Daniel’s father arrived on an out of service bus, and the operator switched the sign to “BLUE LINE / EAST END LIBRARY via SUMNER ST”. “Bluewater Transit Blue Line going to East End Library via Sumner Street,” The automated voice called out as the doors opened and Daniel’s father appeared in the front door.
“Madam and Sir, your chariot to Sumner & Indigo,” Daniel’s father said in a humorous voice, giving a humorous bow.
Daniel couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw “BLUE LINE” on one of BT’s luxury motor coaches, which are usually reserved for the Maroon and Mt Airy routes, and knew the radio conversation from earlier would lead to something (Bluewater Transit staff have a very good sense of humor).
Daniel and Opal both immediately blushed when they realized the song that was playing on the bus: one of the slower pop romance tunes from the Hearts on the Go album that was playing on the Red Line earlier. As they sat down, Peter – the driver – said, “Dispatch told us about you two lovebirds.” As they left the Bluewater Transit Center, over the passenger PA, Peter announced, “Good evening everyone, and thank you for choosing Bluewater Transit. This is the Blue Line going to the East End Branch Library and we will be using Sumner Street.”
By now, Daniel was bright red as Opal continued to hug him. That song appeared to be repeating on purpose. He wondered to himself, “I wonder what Caroline and Rowena would think of this?”
He got his answer as the bus pulled up to his home stop. Rowena was standing there next to Caroline, who was sitting in her wheelchair. Rowena said, “So you two, how was it?” She did not even attempt to hide the big smirk on her face, hoping Daniel would figure it out.
Opal took Daniel’s hand as she said, “We enjoyed it.”
“I thought you both would,” Rowena said as they all headed downstairs to the apartment. ”Daniel, there is something I hope you figured out,” She continued with a small giggle, “Opal has my blessing.”
Daniel immediately blushed. Caroline added, “It was how she reacted yesterday on the bus home from Roanoke; how she took care of your needs.”
Rowena said, “Tonight, Caroline and I will make dinner. You two lovebirds have have about 30-45 minutes.”
Daniel blushed. His sister and cousin seemed to be in on what was happening, and he had a hunch as to what would happen at dinner. He started to really blush as Opal sat on the sofa at his side and curled up in his arms. “After what happened in your life, I realize you are still frightened,” Opal whispered, “Rowena told me just how fragile you are, and I will try my best to be as gentle as possible. Promise.” She started giggling like earlier, and put Daniel into as close a hug as she could muster.