Thursday, January 17, 2008

A TENUOUS GRIP FOR A VERY LONG TRIP

I took the Greyhound up from Los Angeles, squishy, red pieces of my heart slopping out around every bend, leaking and splatting on the roadway in such vast quantity that I was sure I was causing as legion of accidents in the wake of the bus. Luckily, attention was diverted to the front of the bus, where an emergency exit window that was slightly ajar set off a steady beeping sound that nobody quite knew how to fix, and from which the driver, behind his partially effective bulletproof partition, was isolated. I was sitting next to a sleeping man with a wiry mustache that was a clump of bristles much like those on the boar’s hair brush that my mother had to boil when I had lice in first grade. All the bristles fell out. The man was slumped down just slightly, his hands neatly clasped across his chest. He was in the precise position that he would probably be in when resting in his casket one day, though I didn’t tell him so. When I was a kid, I always thought it was a bad omen to fall asleep in a remotely death-like position, so I refrained from sleeping on my back, or if I had to, I’d make sure one leg was dramatically bent and an arm was lolling out to the side. The man was breathing heavily and he’d occasionally wake up to find my face very close to his, watching him sleep. He’d startle, and I’d startle and pretend that I’d been looking out the window. All of the sudden I’d feign interest in the buzzing strip malls of the San Fernando Valley or the glow and endless miles of bunting of a car dealership. He was on to me, though, but fortunately, in tune enough to know that I deserved to be left alone listening to the squelch of blood and tissue as it glopped onto the road and left a trail behind us.

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