Tuesday, March 07, 2006

bus stop still life

It was the bus stop next to the strip club on Morrison. In my backpack was a bottle of whiskey from the government-run liquor store, in my nose was the exhaust being belched into the sky by the cars and trucks going this way and that. The sun was weighing heavily on my shoulders. I couldn't see without squinting. Last night's fun was dripping from my pores.

My car broke down in the parking lot where I was interviewing for a job. It got me there, but refused to take me anywhere else. The interview was less-than-stellar. Nothing like trying to sell yourself when you haven't had a good meal in weeks and the creditors are breathing down your neck. God, I hate looking for work.

McDonalds' wrappers and used condoms and cigarette butts litter the ground. The street is filthy; hasn't been a good rain in weeks. Occasionally the door to the strip club will open with a loud creak and then slam shut, allowing a draft of stale cigarette smoke to float out and co-mingle with the smells of the city. The breeze will eventually take it away. The sounds of flirtation on the clock hum in the background, ever present when there's a break in the traffic.

Bums and businessmen ebb and flow, like ripples from a rock thrown in the ocean.

A guy with a bushy mustache bums a cigarette from me. Says his name is Joe something. He just got into town on a bus ride from St. Louis. He's looking for his ex and their little girl.

A breeze picks up and pins a Big Mac wrapper to my leg. I kick it off and Joe continues.

"Last I heard they come up here. See, my ex, her granma lives here, and seems I don't have what it takes to hole on." He drags from his cig. "I just want another chance, you know?"

He smokes his cigarette to the butt while he looks out over the street. I join him. A cloud passes over the sun in the sky giving us a brief reprieve from the heat. A small gust of wind blows from my left to right.

"Well, thanks for the smoke, man."

I nod. As he takes his leave, I sit on the dirty bench, take the half-pint out of my backpack and pull heavily from it. The sensation gives me a shake, but I start to feel a little better.

The bus pulls up, I return my bottle to my bag and get on. I spend my last $1.50 to get to the river. I'm starting to hate this town...