Love explains everything


Right away I see the boy is scared and Iím sure heís running away from something.

But when I tell Martha, she tells me to mind my own business and go back to sleep.

Normally on long trips like this, I sleep a lot.

Something about the rumble of bus wheels makes me weary.

But this boy has me miffed.

His short hair in this Dylan age tell me heís served time in the military or jail, and since itís still so short I think heís just gotten out.

He must like me since he nods at me each time he sees me looking his way.

Maybe it is because I look a little like Col Sanders with my white suit, white hair and tiny white goatee.

Itís the Florida in me.

No matter where we go, I need to wear white, and blend in a little too well when we get above the snow line.

I keep thinking Iím going to disappear altogether someday and wonder what Martha will do without me.

Who will she have to scold?

When Martha nods off, I ask the boy where heís headed, which only makes me look that much more frightened.

His hand shakes as he lights a cigarette.

I ache to light up a cigar, but I know no one will tolerate it.

Thereís talk about ridding long distance buses of all smoking, but I think people might riot if they do.

So we ride, me watching him suck in lungs full of smoke as if he believes each one will be his last.

Eventually, he tells me heís going to Chicago and I balk, wondering why any sensitive human being would pick this time of year to go to a place where the cold is so acute you have to wear two coats to keep from frost bite and another two or three to feel moderately warm.

At this point, Martha wakes up and tells me to leave the boy and alone and for me to stop bothering people.

The boy, to his credit, comes to my defense and tells her Iím not bothering him.

Martha laughs and says the boy hasnít heard me snore yet, but he will.

We exchange names and hand shakes.

His palms are moist maybe because the name he gives doesnít match the name he has written on his traveling bag.

I whisper this to Martha.

She tells me to shut up.

For a while we ride on in silence with the sound of bus wheels tugging me towards sleep.

When I canít stand the silence any more, I ask the boy why on earth he is going to a place like Chicago.

He says itís a stop over on his way to Denver and he has to go to Chicago first.

I am appalled.

Mile High Denver, I cry, waking Martha, who shoves a firm elbow into my ribs, so that I gush out the last part suggesting heíll be swallowed up in snow.

The boy says heís going to see his girl.

This time Martha hisses and tells me if I donít mind my business, sheís going to whack me in the back of the head with her Life Magazine.

So we ride more in silence until the boy rises to use the toil at the rear of the bus, and drops a gun.

He snatches it up so quickly I almost donít see what it is, but I do, and when heís gone I wake Martha to inform her.

She gives me a yawn and says, ďSo?Ē

I ask if she isnít curious as to what the boy is up to.

She says no.

I ask why not?

She says the boy is in love.

I ask her what that means.

She says love explains everything.

I have no answer for that and decide Iíd better sleep or go crazy.

I dream of snowmen with machine guns and wake up in a sweat.

We are passed Pittsburgh by now and the boyís seat across from ours is empty.

When I ask Martha where he went she yawns and said he got off in Pittsburgh for the change over to the Chicago bus.

I am beside myself with anxiety. She tells me to calm down and go to sleep, nodding off between the words as the first flicks of snow show on the window as I stare out at the north-bound road the boy has taken.


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