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On a Greyhound

USA | Tuesday, 12 May 2015 | Views [139] | Comments [3] | Scholarship Entry

Alfredo Lyndon Richardson is wearing his crisp blue shirt done all the way to the top. He’s short, with neat hair, smooth dark skin and shiny black-rimmed glasses. He has his palms lightly on the steering wheel as he spins it, effortlessly hauling the bus onto the grey Texas highway. He’s introducing himself over the loudspeaker and only pauses to check his mirrors and for comic effect.

“Well, Ladies and Gennelmen, a very good mornin to y’all. Welcome to this Greyhawnd Service from Dallas, Texas to… Shreveport, Leesiana. Ma name is Alfredo Lyndon Richardson and I’ll be yer driver today. This service will be stopping at Mesquite… Tyler… Kilgore… Longview…”

He speaks softly and continuously into the mic, like he’s talking over jazz music, but somehow every note is deadpan. The bus murmurs like a gospel congregation and pretty soon the driver’s announcements have become a conversation: every line getting a response from one of the passengers, sending out shocking, huge hoots of laughter from the others.

The Greyhound isn’t like other kinds of transport. It’s a whole rolling world where people will look right at you and strangers will even speak to you.
Up the front there are lacy old ladies with proper hats and handbags on their laps, and dignified Rosa Parkes stares. There are big girls with sparkling sequin tops and a deaf old Texan gentleman making polite conversation with no one. There are skeletal Cajuns with beards and stone-faced Mexicans who watch everyone without looking at anything.

To someone who’s used to dull, anonymous public transit, the Greyhound can be intimidating, even terrifying, but it’s not long before I know I’ve made the right decision. Not only is the bus the cheapest way from Dallas to Lafayette, it also gives you a good eleven hours of total submersion in the bizarre, confronting and beautiful culture clash that is the United States of America. And despite the strange mix of humanity, despite the pungent human smells and the erratic driving of Alfredo, the Greyhound is a strangely comfortable place to be. Everyone on board seems to be catching up on sleep and people drift in and out of consciousness almost in unison.

When I wake up the guy in front of me is singing. It’s a blues melody in falsetto that’s soft but not hidden. He’s leaning back in his chair and looking out the window- the highway is now raised on pylons, carrying us over an enormous swamp of low trees and grey water.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

Comments

1

Very well-written piece. I loved that first paragraph and I enjoyed the whole thing! Best of luck in the contest!

  tina May 13, 2015 1:54 AM

2

Thanks very much Tina- much appreciated. Good luck to you also!

  xavierml May 14, 2015 5:39 AM

3

Loved your piece - great observations and very poetic. Nice job!

  The Blue Gnu May 15, 2015 4:47 AM

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