The bus left Chicago at five in the morning; darkness downtown, only the moon shined so brightly. Bums asking for a quarter, dollars, gas money to get em back home, hope, a cup of joe.
He sat in the back amongst the drunks; air filled with gin and cheap wine; the bathroom in constant use. The kid stayed to himself as the morning sun broke through ’round Champaigne. Soon they’d be in St. Louis looking at the mighty Mississippi. That brown water just kept rolling.
And the kid had on his earphones. Listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, some Bud Powell. The music was a soundtrack as the bus himmed and hawed down Route 66 on way to Joplin, then Oklahoma and into Texas to mark the halfway point. He rested his head on the window. Soon it would be night again.
Stars shined in the pitch black skies of West Texas. It was a yellow moon with haze wrapped ’round it. A man up front who got picked up in Oklahoma City kept calling out, Where’s Phoenix? Somewhere in an Arizona trailer park kin folk were playing cards and the loser had to pick up dad at the Greyhound station.
Eventually the old man got quiet. The whole bus was quiet as people marveled at the red clay of New Mexico. The tall rock formations and the desert with no homes, just highway running through. They’d be in L.A. soon. This is where the kid started to get scared. He counted fifty bucks in his front pocket waded up along with a black and white photo of Sam Shepard cut out of a magazine.
So, the bus drove through Southern California. Last stop before Los Angeles was Indigo where the night air smelled like alfalfa. The bus driver said L.A. would be next. He was too wound up to sleep. Took it all in. He knew he was ’bout to start on another adventure soon. The adventure of poverty.
They pulled into downtown Los Angeles early in the morning. And there were all these Mexicans standing ’round waiting to be picked up and taken home after working all night. Then were those heading off to work; carrying brown bags filled with tortillas, Jaritos, carnitas.
And just like Chicago, bums asking for money. Soon he’d be one of em. Soon. He was far away from home. Didn’t have a map. Just spent his days walking aimlessly ’round tinsel town, listening to jazz and looking every once in awhile at the picture of Shepard. And he asked it, Sam, what’s my next move? He never answered.