2003 by Justice DeVille
When I got on the bus in Philly, en route to Tucson, I was feeling a bit of pressure to make something big happen, given my record for getting all my action on the road. Unfortunately, a sickly obese gentleman with halitosis and body odor, occupied the seat next to me, preventing a perfectly fine looking blonde in her mid 20s from sitting there. She sat with a tall, skinny, geek behind me. I bitterly tried to read National Geographic with my elbow swimming through the fat guy's flesh every time I turned a page, but couldn't concentrate because the couple behind me were yappin away, getting to know each other. The dude obviously wanted to pork the girl. She would say something about her job with Teach for America or her masters program in education with a focus on Spanish and Portuguese (my field!) while the dude anxiously waited for her to clam up so he could spin it into something about himself...his theater days, singing in a choir, how his mom’s too overbearing and never satisfied with what he does, or his job as a web developer and, even, friends he met over the internet. The girl was very polite and heard him out. She mentioned several times how nice it was to have someone to talk to because it made the time pass faster. The dude just wanted to bone her and after listening to him talk about himself for four hours, he certainly considered himself a worthy candidate in spite of the fact that she early on had mentioned her boyfriend and referred to him several times thenceforth. When he finally offered her his phone number, which he did in a rather unnecessarily dramatic fashion, there was an uncomfortably long pause before she finally offered a polite, "uhh, sure, I guess that would be fine."
Why am I telling you this awful story? Because I, like any other virile fellow, was unable to unlock my ears from it and at the same time, involuntarily inserted myself into the seat next to the chick and saw myself saying all the right things. Not that I was going to hook up with her or get her phone number, but I know I could have done so much better than that guy.
Thankfully, they both got off in Pittsburgh, where a gorgeous, dark-skinned young woman got on the bus. I will not bother describing her for you because you’ll soon find out where you can see her for yourselves. This became my obsession; I would meet her and talk to her, then something remarkable would happen. As the hours passed, the pressure I was putting on myself to make something happen mounted. I would never forgive myself if she got off before I met her. I was reading a "self-help" style book that preached a formula: HAPPINESS = SATISFACTION divided by DESIRES. The point being, having fewer desires leads to more happiness. I ignored the book and drooled over the chick, wondering what in the hell she was doing on Greyhound. I kept setting up benchmarks like, “after I read ten more pages, I’ll ask her, ‘is it obnoxious of me to ask you if I can sit with you.’” I know that sounds weak, but my competition, punks with thin moustaches and backwards baseball caps, wasn't stiff. I was. When someone sat down next to her, I'd carefully spy from my seat just across the aisle and back a few, to see if she smiled or laughed at anything anyone said to her. Nothing. It was clear she was annoyed by all of the come-ons. That was fine; I just needed to figure out my angle.
By the time we got to St. Louis, over a day had passed. During the break, I strategically placed myself, with pistachios and book out to look intellectual and interesting, in places bound to be visited by the girl, the bathroom and refreshment area. She bought a cranberry juice and walked by without looking at me. Ridiculous! Later I found her later playing pinball, by herself the poor girl. Her long arms gracefully cocking the ball release. When we reboarded the bus, a surge of courage ran through me and I took the seat directly behind her. When the rest of the passengers boarded, the bus filled up and two dudes traveling together sat down beside us. The one next to me had the face of a criminal. The one in front had a beard and was normal looking, but they were both goofballs who couldn't help giggling at the fact that they were sitting with a model quality chick. When the guy in front finally got the courage to say something, his "nice guy" smile and gentle tone did not have the effect he was looking for. Once every fifteen minutes he would turn and say something to her and then listen to her response with the friendliest smile he knew how to produce and the exchange would then die. Then it occurred to me, perhaps I could talk to the dude next to me and in so doing, showcase my personality for the chick, maybe even get a fourway conversation going! I asked the guy about Missouri (where he'd been) and Arkansas (where he was goin). He had little more to say than both places sucked. I rendered an opinion on the greenery by the highway as well as the endemic strip malls, projecting my voice forward toward the chick, since she was the one I was talking to anyway. If she heard my voice she'd have to at least think of me. So I thought.
In Springfield Missouri the guy next to me got off and the bus took a fifteen minute break. I paced outside the terminal and noticed a little blonde sitting on a bag smoking a cigarette. She was wearing a tiny black miniskirt and light blue and white check blouse tied Daisy Duke style, revealing her taut belly. She looked young and full of attitude but I thought little of her while wringing my dry brain for one fertile sentence to break the ice with the chick from the bus. I'd just finished reading the self-help book, and had already dispensed with one of the books themes; you must lose your mind (i.e. stop thinking) in order to come to your senses (i.e. let your senses/instincts guide you). Yet I couldn't stop thinking and planning...then what would I do? Let nothing happen!
When the bus started to reboard, the blonde girl asked anyone which bus was going to Oklahoma City. I kindly told her that I was going to Tucson but my bus stopped in Oklahoma City. She said she was from Winslow, Arizona. I asked if that was near Tucson and she said, “sort of, haven’t you ever heard the song by the Eagles, (she began to sing) ...well I was standin on a corner in Winslow Arizona it was such a fine sight to see, there’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford slowin down to take a look at me.” I smiled and told her to sit next to me and tell me everything about Arizona. She told me to save her a seat.
She sat down and commented on the state fair. I told heard that I’d never been to a state fair and the subject of Arizona quickly evaporated. She diverged into her family life…how her parents were split up, and she’d lived with her dad and two younger siblings and acted like the mom, working and taking care of the home, but her dad still hit the bottle too much; whisky, it brought out the Indian in him. He was almost full blooded American Indian. He beat her up a few times and after the last time, which landed her in the hospital and him in jail, she decided to leave. To do that, she got married.
old are you?”
“Sixteen. My dad, that fuckin asshole, signed the papers when I’s fifteen he wanted to get rid a me so bad. But I’m fixin to git a divorce now.”
“Cause that son-of-a-bitch I married got another girl pregnant.”
“How old’s he?”
“Twenty-one. Big as a bear, I mean fuckin huge, 6’4” 250 pounds but the motherfucker can’t fight for shit. Before I went with him he talked about whippin people’s asses but I ain’t never seen it.”
“Is it important that he can whip ass?”
“Can be. Shit, what if someone starts somethin with me? Don’t get me wrong, I can kick some ass, I’ll kick any girl’s ass. I done it. Two months ago at Lalapalooza this bitch kept lookin at me, so I says ‘what chou lookin at?’ she says ‘nothin’ but keeps lookin at me. So I ask her again, “what chou lookin at?’ she says ‘nothin,’ then bumps into me on purpose as she’s walkin past. So I shove her and she comes at me with a punch. I just grabbed her arm and then beat the shit outta her, messed up her face pretty bad.”
She threw a few punches in the air to back up her story and then made a muscle for me to feel. It was a real muscle...her body was rockin. I lifted my sleeve and flexed my bicep. She laughed.
Keeping my focus on the model-esque chick in front, I elected to speak about the little experience I have in fighting: the time I caught a punk trying to pickpocket me at carnival in brazil and then got punched in the face before I saw it coming and how I didn’t do anything because I was afraid that his gang of friends behind him were going to beat the shit out of me if I swung back. She paused and then said that that was cool because it takes a real man to walk away from a fight. She sounded like she was repeating some words she’d heard somewhere. I told her that she didn’t need to lie to me.
She talked incessantly, providing an enormous amount of entertainment for the other passengers. And wouldn’t you know it, the chick sitting in front interrupted us to ask if her Lunchables slid back under the seat.
That nasty prepackaged lunchmeat?
“Why in the hell do you have that?”
“Because they don’t have anything better at those nasty snack shops.”
“Right. Sorry, it’s not back here.”
Sara, my new companion, and I, resumed our session. Sara proved to be exceptional. Though she was still only “fixin” to get her GED, she could name more bones and muscles in the human body than I could. She was considering becoming a masseuse. Her favorite thing to do in the whole world was drop the bottom out of a car, take it apart and put it back to together again. She spoke quite a bit about cars, her old 78 Camaro with a 354 that just needed a new body, an old T-bird and Honda CRX. I didn’t understand anything she said when she talked about engines and stuff. She also loved guns and fired more than I could name. She was eager to be a soldier and fight in the front lines “where all the action is” because she knew she would be good at it, but at the same time she was eager to fly the helicopters and do some maneuver where the chopper tilts on it’s nose and dives straight down. She worked for a construction company owned by her mother’s side of the family...tore up a worksite once because they stuck her with holdin a flashlight while some assholes got to do the real work. Her other work experience was something to do with climbing cell phone towers. That took her to Dallas, Texas for a week but sucked because one of the older men down there wouldn’t quit tryin to get her in bed and kept calling her after she left. She was also propositioned by a modeling agency to do catalogue work. Of course she had pictures and business cards to accompany all of her stories. All this and she was 16, 5’2”, and in spite of six years of heavy drinking, still had lovely green eyes and a clear complexion. She quit drinking six weeks earlier after drinking too much and getting date raped.
During the bus breaks, she followed me around. Given her rambunctious personality, I had expected her to branch out a little...but anyway, I got the feeling that we were in our own little world. I got myself a Dr. Pepper and her a Pepsi and we gleefully sucked them down in some old, smelly diner. The babe who’d been sitting in front of us, who I’d begun to forget about, as did you too probably, walked up, plugged in her cell phone next to me, and asked if I’d keep an eye on it while she had a cigarette. Go figure.
After we reboarded the bus, Sara was monkeying with a cross around her neck and it fell to the floor under the seat of the bearded guy who was still struggling to get traction with the model-esque chick. She couldn’t spot it, so I climbed under the seat but had no luck either. She threatened that she was going to cry, and even though she did a poor acting job, I immediately slipped into the mock role of a mature adult talking to a child.
that, you’re not going to cry. The cross fell
on the floor of this bus and we’re going to find
“But my brother gave me that cross. I’m gonna cry.”
“You’re not gonna cry. Look, I think I see something underneath that seat up there.”
“That’s not it. We’re never gonna find it and my brother’s gonna be mad at me.”
At that point, really
acting like an adult, I interrupted
the pair in front of us and explained the situation. Within a few
the chick produced the cross and I asked.
“Where was it?”
“Underneath my foot.”
“You had it under your foot? If you wanted it that badly maybe you should just keep it.”
“I didn’t know, I swear!” she laughed.
As Sara and I continued to talk, our legs got tangled.
When we took our break in Tulsa, the last one before Oklahoma City, we were going to take a walk but the break wasn’t long enough. Inside the terminal, Sara started talking about the second of the two times she’d been date raped. As the story came out, so did real tears. Suddenly the loudspeaker cracked and Sara twitched. An indifferent voice blaring the monotonous reboarding message reset Sara’s emotions. When we sat down back on the bus, I noticed the guy with the beard standing around waiting to get picked up and insisted that Sara thank him for helping her find her cross. She resisted at first but I was more stubborn than she and as the bus began to pull away, she held up the cross to the window, waved, and mouthed thank you. The guy smiled his “nice guy” smile and waved back.
wasn’t that easy, you just made that guy’s
“You guess? I know. You made that guy happy, you could see it on his face.”
She shrugged and asked
if she could put her head on my
shoulder. I put my arm around her and she pressed her head against me.
Her head bobbed on my chest like a buoy on a calm sea. It was very
though an older gentleman across the aisle in a wheelchair seemed to be
keeping an eye on us. He was awfully scruffy and had a bushy, unkempt
Nonetheless, Sara slid her head down into my lap. Her face looked
I pulled the scrunchy out of her hair and placed it around her wrist,
began massaging her scalp and running my fingers through her hair. I
ten fingers out on a scouting mission and over the course of two hours,
Sara, being the trooper she said she wanted to be, rotated three times
to facilitate the expedition of more distant lands that otherwise would
have been unattainable. We never said a word.
The chick in front looked back for a brief second once and the old man across the aisle looked over and sighed heavily a couple times. I couldn’t tell if he was getting aroused since he had a clear shot up Sara’s mini skirt or if he was gonna yell at me and call me a pedophile. The insensitive clod directly behind me put on his overhead light twice, but overall the covert operation was an overwhelming success.
Ten minutes outside of Oklahoma City, Sara popped her head up as if she had radar and started getting unruly. She pulled up her shirt and showed me her boobies nestled in a cotton bra, just so she could watch my face lose shape. I had to squeeze her leg a couple times and tell her, “listen, you need to settle down.” Her mind needed something to chew on, so I told her to tell her mother, who was waiting to pick her up at the bus station, that we met on the bus and I lost some luggage and needed a place to stay until they recovered it and that I was going to stay with them. Sara did not think that this was a good joke to play (especially since she hadn’t seen her mom in two months and before that it had been a year) and we spent the rest of the ride arguing over it. No matter how I suggested we present the situation, Sara was able to come up with a list of reasons why it was a bad idea. Boy that was fun.
I threatened to go
through with it up until the moment
we stepped off the bus. I shook her mother’s hand and held
back a laugh
as Sara stumbled through an introduction. God she was a great girl. I
like I was going to explain the lost luggage and so on, but diverted at
the last moment into an admonition of Sara for eating all of my
“I mean, what kind of a daughter did you raise?” I
asked her. The question
was more serious than it sounded.
Sara of course asked her mom what car she brought, and she pointed to an old Ford Taurus SHO that had a banged up rear fender. A cousin had borrowed it and took it into a ditch. “Not a problem, Sara can fix that,” I offered. The mom agreed wholeheartedly and Sara looked at me with a sly smile. I wanted to hug her good-bye, but figured that would be bad form in front of her mom since I’m almost 29, we just met, and she’s still technically married. So we shook hands and called it good.
I walked into the
terminal and proceeded to the “restaurant”
where the model-esque chick was seated alone with a bean burrito,
rings, and Ding Dongs. I sat across from her and said, “you
lost your travel
“Finally” she said with a mouth full of steaming refried beans. When she finally swallowed, she poured it all out, telling me about all the annoying guys that wouldn’t stop talking to her. She went on for a while and I deftly surmised that I was not one of the annoying guys. She commented on the part of mine and Sara’s conversation where Sara explained the different outfits she had arranged to match her mood...goethe, preppy, slutty, country, a sixty-nine jersey, and then a whole bunch of other slutty outfits. So my theory was correct, she did tap into our conversation and must have played around with some of the topics we broached and heard herself thinking/talking about them. Not that I had a chance in hell with her, but it’s so much better being in the game than outside the wall listening in. Or across the aisle chewing your lip.
She went up to the counter to get another burrito and the funny guy with droopy eyes behind the counter didn’t want to sell it to her. He was probably more concerned about her figure than she was and said, “guys are gonna walk up to you and be like, ‘yeah, you’re pretty hot... plllll.. oh, what was that? plllll.. oops” he had us both goin pretty good. “How do you think I feel? I gotta sit behind her. I’m gonna have to switch my seat towards the front of the bus so her ass isn’t aimed at me,” I said. The guy reluctantly got her another burrito. The poor girl came back defending herself, talking about how she hadn’t eaten all day, and that she was going to look terrible in the photo shoot that she was doing out in Vegas. She didn’t want to elaborate on everything she was doing in Vegas.
“Sort of, I just did my first big shoot.”
“What was it?”
“For Maxim magazine. I’m one of the girls for September. If we stop at a magazine stand I’ll show you.”
“Was it tough work?”
“Not really, but I had to drink heavily during the two day shoot because I’m a conservative girl and don’t like to pose all sexy.”
“They let you get loaded?”
“Let me? They gave me anything I wanted.”
She looked as exotic as her background; English, Irish, Greek, and Cuban. Her boyfriend’s a bodyguard for a boxer and didn’t like her going out to Vegas with her friends on this little “business” trip. She couldn’t understand why he was so jealous and worried when they’d been together for five years, she loved him and it’s not like they’re married anyway.
that guys are gonna be hitting on me and stuff.”
“He’s right! Look what’s happened to you already, and this was just on Greyhound. In Vegas it’s gonna be worse... and the guys there are gonna have money.”
It turned out that she was riding Greyhound because her license mysteriously disappeared and she had no other photo id, so she had to bail on her flight. Greyhound wasn’t bad except that she popped her one and only Vicadin “like a jackass” as she put it, on the first day instead of economizing. When we were called to reboard, she was all discombobulated and asked me to carry out her juice and Ding Dongs.
While we got situated, she asked me if I had any CDs to lend her since she was bored of hers. I told her that all I had was a laptop with CDs burned onto the hard drive. Alas we ended up sitting together, each with one earpiece, listening to Shakira, Sade, and Aerosmith, Life’s a journey... not a destination. When she pulled out another Ding Dong and took a bite I yanked out my earpiece and reprimanded her.
unbelievable. What about your photo shoot?”
“I know, I’m gonna be too fat.”
“You’re not gonna be too fat. You’re perfect. But I can’t let you keep pigging out on Ding Dongs.”
“Fine, then you eat em.”
“No way, then I’ll get fat.”
“You? Yeah right.”
I lifted my shirt and
pinched two inches as proof. She
laughed, then lifted hers and took a grab. She had flawless skin, and
belly had that slight indentation on either side to give it just the
shape. I told her it was perfect, that it was the shape guys like and
fetched my big bag of pistachios.
“Here, have some of these. It’s all I’ve been eating for the past two days.”
She put away the Ding Dong and went to work on the pistachios.
By two AM we went to sleep. I had to change buses in Amarillo, Texas and leave that lonesome beauty, all alone.
So it was another good trip on Greyhound. I had to fool around with a sexed-up sixteen year old Okie to get to the babe from the big apple and find out what her story was. It was tough work, but somebody had to do it.
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