I hate riding Greyhound more than anything. It used to be a necessity to get around on my job, in between the cars I drove. I’d deliver a car, ride a Greyhound to the next car I had to pick up. But after numerous bad experiences I got creative about how to get around otherwise. Trains, planes, rental cars, whatever. It was torture to me to ride Greyhound, with their uncomfortable seats and sardine can-like accommodations. I felt like I was trapped in a narrow tube full of bad versions of Bill’s people, all races, shapes and sizes. People who had forgotten the meaning of the word “soap.”
Three days ago, I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana and could not find any other way out. No other mode of transportation was available or even remotely affordable. I thought I would go to Columbus, where my rocker stoner friend Smokey lives. Indiana to Ohio would not be too long of a ride, and I could tolerate it. Barely.
I knew things would not go smoothly. First off, the bus I was to catch was two hours late arriving in Fort Wayne. Then a half hour later, when the driver was about to board us, he started chatting up three gals who were standing behind me in line. I had been there for three hours myself, and was first in line at the door. The driver announced to us that his bus was very full, and that not all of us were going to get on. Which made me glad that I was first in line. As the driver opened the door in front of me, he put his arm across my path and said, “Hey brother, ladies first.” And the three girls he had been talking to walked by me defiantly, with their lips curled with superiority. I am a gentleman and do believe in ladies going first, but this was what I consider line-cutting, and I hate that.
Once on the bus, I could quickly see that there was only one seat left. The hyper guy behind me said, “Excuse me” and tried to push his way past me. He seemed intent on getting that last seat, but there was no way that was going to happen. I very effectively blocked his path in the very narrow aisle, until I thought he was going to climb over the people in their seats to get around me. When I plopped down in the one empty seat, this guy let out a loud, long sigh.
I looked at the man in the window seat next to me. He was a long, lean Black man, wearing a gold colored velvet athletic suit and matching driving cap. He looked me up and down, slowly and methodically, like he was taking a measure of me. “You cool?”
“No need to beg. I just axed if you cool.”
“We’ll see about that.” He cleared his throat and relaxed in his seat. The driver boarded thirty minutes later and started making announcements as we pulled out of the station three hours late. When some rowdy folks in the back of the bus interrupted his announcements, the driver said he wasn’t going to compete with loud rascals.
I looked at my watch. “Three hours late. Typical Greyhound.”
My seat neighbor looked over at me. “You in a hurry?”
“No, not really. I just hate riding Greyhound.”
He laughed. “Yeah, you and the rest of the world.” The rowdy crowd in back got louder, and the driver came on the mike and told them to settle down or they’d be walking. “Them boys ain’t had no home training. My momma would’ve whipped their butts.” He grinned at me. “Hey man, I’m Virgil.”
I smiled and held my hand out to shake. “Bill Thomas, pleased to meet you, Virgil.”
He took my hand in a flimsy grasp and smiled. “Yeah well, I don’t know about all that, but hey, it’s cool. Know what I’m sayin’?”
“You going to Dayton?”
“Man, forget about Columbus, you need to stop off in Dayton, that’s where I’m going.”
“I have a friend in Columbus.”
He adjusted his driving cap. “Well now you got a friend in Dayton, know what I’m sayin’?”
“Yes, and thank you.”
“Man, I got Dayton all wrapped up tight. I can get you anything you want there.”
“Good to know.”
“Weed, blow, women. And I mean fine ass women, prime meat. You will be lovin’ on them, know what I’m sayin’?”
“I think I do.”
“No thinkin’ to it, it’s all real. It’s a natural fact. And I know that’s right.”
He shook his head. “No man, seriously, you need to detour off the bus in Dayton and stay with your old friend Virgil for the day, know what I’m sayin’?”
“I follow you.”
“You should follow me, Bill, cuz you will have some wild adventures. Mr. Virgil’s Wild Ride, it is a joy to behold. It’ll be a magical and wondrous experience for you, for sure. I got some women in my stable that will rock your world across the universe. You dig?”
“I dig. But… did you say your stable?”
“Yeah, well, not like a horse stable. It’s be my stable of hoes, and they is good, know what I’m sayin’? In Dayton I got a rep as King of the Pimps. But hey, I like to keep that on the down low, know what I’m sayin’?”
“I know, I know.”
He leaned back in his chair and pulled his driving cap down over his eyes. “I’m gonna rest my eyes for a minute, why don’t you tell me about why you hate Greyhound?”
I started to tell him the story of the man who fell into a deep sleep on my chest then started having erotic dreams. As I was doing this, I saw his left hand slip under the waistband of his pants. Then his hand began roaming around. He appeared to be manipulating himself, and I was praying that he wouldn’t erect a tent in his pants. I just looked away and kept on talking, trying to pretend that I was blissfully ignorant of what Virgil was doing. “And that is one of the many reasons I hate Greyhound so much,” I concluded.
“Yeah, man, that is a good story but it’s messed up. Know what I’m sayin’?”I did know what he was saying, though I was unsure why he kept on asking me that question.
When we got to Dayton, he stuck his left hand out to shake with me again. I avoided it and just patted him on the shoulder. He pleaded for me to get off and promised to show me a good time. I declined, but not before he made me promise that I’d call him next time I delivered a car to Dayton so I could see it through the eyes of the King of the Pimps. I feel sure that is a promise I will not be able to keep.