one once--it took three blasts from his shotgun to bring it down.
"All right, folks. This is a five-minute smoke break. Don't be late. You don't want to be left out here. And I will leave you."
We stopped in Pueblo late in the afternoon. Dirk got on the bus and sat by me. Dirk, the classic California surfer dude (long blonde hair, muscles, shorts, sandals, and a tan to die for). He asked if he could read my newspaper. "Sure," I replied. Then Dirk became very serious. He asked, "If I read your paper, will it steal my memory?" I assured him that it wouldn't. At least, I didn't think it would. Later when we stopped for dinner, he asked if the McDonald's burgers would steal his memory. I didn't reply. I wasn't really sure.
Sitting behind me were Greg and Sandi. Because they were young and cute and together, I assumed they were a couple. They weren't. Sandi was going to Salt Lake City to see her boyfriend. Greg was going there to see his girlfriend. I suggested they could save both time and money by forgetting their respective partners and hooking up. They shook their heads in disbelief. What would an old man know about love?
Luis joined the group in Colorado Springs. Luis is fifteen years old. He had just been released from prison. Served eighteen months for attempted murder. Well, not exactly, Luis explained. That was the original charge, but it was plea-bargained down. He was only thirteen at the time of the incident and the other guys did shoot first. Yes, the car he was driving was stolen and, yes, the gun he had was stolen, but they were on his turf and they did shoot first. For just getting out of jail, Luis seemed well equipped--nifty Nikes, cool cell phone, classy gold crucifix, hot hat. He was going home to see his mother, his girlfriend, and his baby, in that order. Fifteen.
"This is Denver. Everyone must leave the bus here. It's due to be serviced. This bus does not go on farther tonight. Those of you continuing on, check the board inside. It will tell you the gate. Thanks for riding TNMO. You thought you were riding Greyhound, but it's TNMO. That's what my paycheck says."
Overnight from Denver to Salt Lake City. Should be an easy ride. We'd made it this far and it was only twelve more hours. We'd heard everyone's story. We were tired. The bus was dark and quiet. It looked like Greg and Sandi may have taken my advice after all. They were wrapped around each other, asleep.
"Rock Springs, Wyoming. I know the Burger King looks closed but they open for us. They like our business. Oh, one more thing. They're really slow here, so watch the time."
The scenery was familiar as the sun rose over the Wyoming plains. I used to live in Denver. I'd driven this highway many times. Each curve and dip is familiar. As the mile markers flashed by, I was getting close to home. At last, I drifted off to sleep.
"Folks, we're about four blocks from the Salt Lake station. I want to warn you that there's no smoking in the station. There's no smoking in the back or out in front either. There is a smoking room in the terminal. They're really nasty about smoking here. If you do it, they'll call the police and you'll get a ticket. It's an amazing place."
Yes, it is.