Tuesday, March 17, 2009


*a work of historical fiction
We are on the bottom level of the bus. I had fanticized that the bottom might be more comfortable, being closer to the folcrum of the swaying lever that is a bus in motion. Nonetheless, the bus lurches out of the station like a drunk and I am rocking back and forth just like always, like always, like always. Although this time maybe with gentler amplitude.

It's late and I am lightheaded from staying awake waiting for the bus. There is no one out. Even the dogs are silent; curled up the sides of the streets. After a few fruitless minutes of staring at the swirling patterns my overstimulated brain paints behind my eyelids, I open my eyes. The bus has stopped and bluish light is flooding in through gaps in the curtains. A police officer, a boy who looks even younger than I am, boards the bus and passes up and down the aisle, comparing our names to names he has on a clipboard. He disappears upstairs and I return to staring at colors behind my eyelids. The patterns gradually slow as my brain asquiesces. After a few minutes, tone of the idling engine quickens and we lurch forward. A few more minutes pass and I fall into a feverish sleep. I dream of being lost a strange city and being unable to find Erin.

Suddenly, I'm awake again. I look over at Erin. Slow breathing. She is still sleep. Something is strange. It takes me a moment to realize that the ever-present moan of the engine has ceased.

I badly need to pee. I stumble along the dark aisle past passengers covered in blankets. My feet have swollen and I step awkwardly to avoid their sprawled legs. I try the bathroom door. The light is not on inside. Unoccupied? No, it's locked. Maybe it's broken. I feel a cool breeze on my right entering the bus through the open door. I step outside.

It's still dark. A full moon is only halfway sunk to the west, so dawn is still a few hours off. There are no buildings visible, only a brown field flat as a gravestone, split by the gravel highway. I walk slowly around the bus until I see the driver or the tripulaciĆ³n holding a flashlight in his teeth while trying a panel with a wrench. He looks up at me and says nothing. I walk to the back corner of the bus and am entertaining thoughts of irrigating the field, when suddenly the engine roars back to life. My fears of being left by the side of a deserted road quickly overwhelm my desire to pee. I mince back to the open door on my swollen feet. Strangely, now the bathroom door is open. I utilize this and return to my seat feeling much better as we roll along the gravel, rocks crackling against the bottom of the bus. I fall quickly into a dreamless sleep.

The awareness that the bus is stopped fights its way into my groggy brain and I awaken. This time the engine rumbles like always. There are lights outside and a building. The east is bruised blue with the predawn. A sign indicates policia of the Santa Cruz providence. The door whooshes open and a lady police officer steps on with another clipboard. This one wants to see our passports. I eye the ceiling sleepily as I wait to offer her mine. By the time she has finished her rounds, there is a red glimmer on the horizon fighting its way through low, grey clouds. We pass down streets of utilitarian houses of prefab concrete beside flat, open lots of brown bushes barely visible in the gloom. Plastic bags pinioned to the bushes flutter in the wind. We must be arriving.


  1. you really did uncover the life of ridding a bus for 13 hours or however long it is... dude that sucks

  2. A Bus ride from hell...I will be interested to find out which ride will receive the dubious honor of the worst bus ride of your many South American bus experiences.