The Greyhound was packed. All seats were taken. Debris on the floor; empty bottles, Orange Crush, grape soda, McDonald’s bags. Graffiti on the backs of chairs written in black marker; Fuck Whitey, it read.
There was an uneasiness on the bus. A silence. People with earphones in, sleeping in curled up positions, texting away to someone they were meeting, or, leaving, last words, final words.
Who was meeting these people? the old man wondered. What stop was their’s? he looked out at the autumn bit trees. South Bend, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Youngstown, somewhere. They were all going somewhere.
He bought a ticket for New York. It’d been awhile since he’d been there. The old man spent his youth in and out of the city. In and out of shelters. Some things never change. Like the gray skies of November in Ohio. Some things never change.
There were opportunities the old man had; each one slipped through his hands. Couldn’t keep a job to save his life. Spent time in mental wards; Yale, Bellevue, Alan Presbyterian, others all around the country. Diagnosed as bipolar. His folks just said he was crazy.
But, this would be it. His last trip. He was done with backpacking cross country. It was time to settle. Settle in New York? Sounded like a death sentence. Maybe that’s what he wanted.
The bus went east on 80. All the way through Ohio. Leaves of rust dotted the interstate. Construction signs. Left lane closed ahead. The old man thought briefly about getting off in Cleveland. He had been there before. Spent a year in the Forest City. Used to sleep under bridges by the Cuyahoga. Met a nice lady there. She was running too. Just like all of us; from herself.
No, he wanted to see Gotham one more time before he died. One more time through Central Park. Hang out in Washington Square. Get a slice for a buck.
We all have places we want to be buried in. Tombs, the ocean, a vase atop a mantle of a loved one. He wanted to finally rest with the poor. For that’s where he belonged.