RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Tuesday, January 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Back to Hell in a Greyhound

My first extra-long on purpose Greyhound trip was to Oklahoma, from Farmville, Virginia, and there was a gas station on the west end of town (now gone) that was the Greyhound stop, and I had a big backpack all packed up and met my dad at his lunch spot at the park, and he drove me to catch the bus, because he was quietly worried about why the fuck I’d ride a bus to Oklahoma for no good reason. A lady we both knew, older outlaw woman type who feel in age between the two of us, so I had lustful thoughts of her as a child, she worked the register and had to do the sliding credit card machine thing to charge my ticket, because this was in the 1990s still. The bus came, and two dudes got off to go in and grab some drinks and one of them fell out in the store, like passed out, and I got on the bus and then those two dudes came back on, and apparently one of them had just given the other a pill which knocked the second one out. After Roanoke, where the pill-giver got off, and I had a phone call on the pay phone (those still existed too) calling a dude that used to be tight with my dad, just checking on him, but all he did was complain about how his back was all fucked up and he couldn’t work. One of his two kids ended up being a methhead in Washington, sadly. When I got back on the bus, the passer-outer sat across from me, and we shared stories for hours and hours, long into the night. He’d just gotten released from mental hospital, because he got sent there instead of prison, but explained to me how that wasn’t so good because at least with prison, you got released, but with the mental hospital system, “Once they got you, they got you whenever they want.”
Anyways, I’ve had a number of long ass bus rides since then too, and they’re always full of people and stories like this. It’s a world full of people with more time than money, and that type of person always has some shit going on. Having been in an MFA level creative writing class before, I’d say the back of the Greyhound is a way better writing class than any MFA program operated by the CIA, or by a cash-hungry school mimicking the popular CIA MFA programs at the more prominent universities. I could tell some of my favorite Greyhound stories for hours, and I wonder if I’m anybody else’s favorite Greyhound story? I kinda expect my last ride I might’ve been, when I rode from Los Angeles to New Orleans, and it was hellish and I hadn’t showered in a long time, and stank really bad, too bad for a bathroom baby wipe bath to address, like nasty balls dick stank level stank. And I squeezed into the back row with a nice lady who I considered old but to be honest she was probably around my age, and I was the only gringo on the whole Greyhound. We rode near enough to the border through a chunk of Arizona and New Mexico that we had a couple of immigration stops even. But this lady sitting beside me, who I felt sorry for having to have me beside her, we started talking, and then she was watching a George Lopez comedy special on her phone, and she shared an earbud, and we laughed and laughed together at George Lopez and started telling each other shit, and I was explaining how I was riding the train and bus all the way around the country, had just done Amtrak from Seattle to Los Angeles, just in time to catch this bus to New Orleans, and she was fascinated by my ridiculousness, or so it seemed. She got off in El Paso, and convinced me not to cross the border while we were stopped there, because the bus station was literally a block from the border crossing. “The bus is only here for 45 minutes, you would get lost over there in something, I am sure.”
I kinda told myself when I got to New Orleans that time that I would never ride a Greyhound again, no more long ass slow ass rides like that. But lately I’ve been seeing the Greyhound heading south out of Charlottesville when I’m driving, with LOS ANGELES or DALLAS on the front of the bus, and I briefly think about riding the Greyhound from here to LA or Texas or go up through the northwest again (one of my all-time favorite bus rides, for the beauty of the landscape as well as chaotic bus stories galore). Covid plus being responsible has me itching to do something stupid like ride a bus for 5 days straight.

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