I started my summer in Seattle, Washington. Beautiful place, the Emerald City. I had some good times there. Holla Scott Hyde and co. But, I left Seattle after two months for Arkansas. I chased a rainbow in hopes of finding gold. On my journey there, I had to travel by Greyhound.
My brother, Steven, dropped me off in front of a bleak building. It was a stark contrast to the clean streets and the shinning buildings we had basked under that day. In the middle of all of the commerce, culture, and trending architecture, this was a eye sore... no, the terminal was an exposed booger. A cliffhanger. You've seen those haven't you? Those little tykes that are just hanging on a nose hair out of your neighbor's nostril....The structure was a fading peach color, marred by the scuff of tire marks on the walls and sidewalks. This was more like a compound than a transportation terminal. I felt like I was entering a war zone. I looked for some NATO hummers and sandbags.
Inside, the walls were tarnished with black marks, peeling paint, and the occasional tag. Muffled cries of babies and different dialects echoed their way through the halls. The tiled floor was cracked and frosted with miles of grim, that had been smashed into it by thousands of refugees. The air reeked of vinegar, urine, cheap cleaning supplies, and human odor. I descended the stairs into the lower ticketing/sitting/arcade and gaming area. This was either a half-way house or I was being filmed for an upcoming documentary on the "Travel Choices of Crack-Cocaine Addicts." The employees were in on this gig too. Human shells stood behind the counter, with sunken expressions, and blank stares. All of them looked like someone had worked on their faces in someway, trying to repair them, without much success. I kept looking over my shoulder for Astin Krutcher, hoping he would punk me so hard. Instead, I saw a white version of Kimbo Slice buying a Coca-Cola. This was real.
After a brief, and forced interaction, between myself and the shell, I turned to the other actors in this sad tragedy. Transient folks. This was the society of the displaced. All of them seemed to be anxiously awaiting the end of their journey, whether that destination was Santa Fe or Death, I couldn't tell; they were eager. Perhaps it was the smell. I kept my mouth closed, my new found colleagues did not. I counted my blessings that I had more teeth in my mouth than the rest of the room. As I was counting my other blessings, I caught the eyes of a man who looked like a citizen of who-ville that was suckled by a dog. I looked down and burned a hole in the ground with my stare. I couldn't take the foreign region I was in. I was vulnerable to the max.
I can save National Geographic a ton of money. They don't need to go to Africa to get exotic pictures. Go to a Greyhound bus terminal. You're welcome.
I was running through a series of hypothetical life threatening situations that might arise (the bus catches on fire, I get stabbed, the driver falls asleep, I find out I have diabetes, I sit next to a animorph) when the loudspeaker announces that the bus to Salt City is boarding. I got in line, looked over my shoulder, held my bags close to my heart, and scowled at everyone. I was done being scared. Seemed like the sensible thing to do. That is what guys do in prison movies-- A) They look pissed/ready to prove themselves B) then they make allies C) join a gang D) make a shank E) kill F) make money in jail G) and finally take over the gang.
I may have mixed that order up. I was working on steps A and D, but I was unsure of how to tackle the "make allies."
The bus was no better than the terminal. Aesthetically, it failed. In cleanliness, failed. In comfortably, it failed. Our driver seemed to be a former Gestapo. He yelled and promised to shock us with a cattle prod if we didn't redeem our ticket stubs. I rushed on the bus, hoping he wouldn't hit me with his baton. My seat, the one I would sit in for the next twenty hours or so, looked like lice had created an infrastructure that would make Chicago look silly. Before I even sat down, my head started to itch. The cigarette burns complimented the faded and tattered fabric, that looked more like a carpet taken from a Motel 6. The rust scrapped back the metal chrome on the seat. The aura of the bus beckoned me to lay my head down. I tried to resist, but I couldn't fight it. The night had grown old, and in that moment I gave up the fight on germs, the Gestapo, and a watchful eye on my belongings. My survival senses had become overwhelmed and needed a break.
The next few hours felt like days, and they were a blur. We stopped in little towns, waited for bus transfers in Subway restaurants and Exxon gas stations. My fellow journey men and women came from all walks of life. I became more sure of myself as the miles tacked onto the odometer, until a wide eyed man, with frizzled hair got on the bus. He paced the aisle for fifteen minute segments, wore headphones that blared Def Leopard, and his eyes screamed crazy. I poured my whole soul into my book, hoping that he wouldn't prey on me because of my designer jeans. Just outside of Twin Falls, he made his pass. "Hey, got a lighter?" I froze. His veins were bulging out of his head and I could smell way too much mouth wash coming from his oral cavity. I shook my head. His eyes widened. I thought he would sink his teeth into my neck. I wondered how could Bella be alright around all of those vampires. His attention span must have been as long as mine - he left. I lived to ride.
I started my drive on July 8th at 8:40 pm, I arrived the next day at 7:00 pm. We made eight stops. I slept five hours. Transferred buses twice. Made zero friends. And gained one profound truth, selling alarms sucks.