art is a war 3

There were some immigrants on the bus I’d done a little translation for.  They now wanted to know the value of American coins.  One of them had a whole pile of change on a table, and I waited until they’d counted it out and converted it into pesos before taking my leave.  When we boarded the bus to Miami, the one with all the change was sitting beside me, like a little bull, with both his elbows thrust out at his sides.  It was going to be a long night.

The new driver was a woman who immediately got lost.  I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened on one of my trips.  It took a couple of awkward U-turns at dodgy intersections to get back on the right highway.  Then sometime around morning it happened again.  She actually got on the intercom and asked if anyone knew where the pickup point for Osceola was.  We were driving down a country road with Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  This time someone actually had to get out and direct her backing up so she didn’t plow over a mailbox or run us off the narrow road.  The pickup point ended up being a gas station. 

The only ones who got on in Osceola were three women convicts in white T-shirts.  A few minutes later the driver got back on the intercom and warned whoever was smoking the weed that she would not hesitate to pull over and call 9-1-1 if it happened again.  She might’ve been tripping.  I didn’t smell anything.  The woman behind me, who hadn’t been accused, was adamant that it hadn’t been any of them.  She appeared to be the brains of the operation and did the talking for all three. 

The land was flat and swampy on both sides of the road.  When we got to Orlando there was an hour layover.  I was sorry to see that the tough-talking prison gal was getting off there.  I went over to the café and got a breakfast sandwich from the cooler.  When I went to pay, however, it took nearly half the break as the guy at the cash register, who made the bus driver from New Orleans look like a linguistic genius, tried to explain to one of the immigrants in Spanish why he couldn’t break a twenty.  Either he had a nervous tic, or was in the middle of a seizure.  Later, when I lost a dollar in the vending machine, I just let it go, as he’d just been asked to cook a hamburger and that appeared to be the final straw.

For the past three weeks I’d been fixated on making it to Miami, but the closer we got to it the more I realized that Miami wasn’t going to solve anything.  In fact, as we approached Fort Lauderdale, it was suddenly getting overcast and soon it began to pour rain.  When my train had been cancelled a few weeks earlier, due to Hurricane Ian, my thought at the time had been that I’d ride the train straight into the storm if I could.  Now, with just a little rain and hardly any wind, it felt like everything had been ruined.  Like Jonah, who’d survived three days in the belly of a whale, only to have God send a worm to kill the shade tree he was living under, I wanted to rend my garment and disown my life.  That would’ve been a hasty reaction, however, as by the time we were pulling into the Miami Airport, which was now the stop for Greyhound, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and by the time I found a bus to Miami Beach it had nearly stopped.

There were only a few people on the city bus I’d gotten on at the airport.  They all appeared to be Latinos.  After crossing the MacArthur Causeway, a homeless couple got on, only to realize after a block they were going the wrong way.  When they got off, I got off to, as it looked like I should be able to walk to my hostel from there.  By now it wasn’t raining at all.  In fact, the sun was out and it was hot.  Here I was, a moment ago at the end of my rope, now walking down a sunny street in Miami Beach.  Bad moods are like storms.  Sometimes you just need to get to the other side.

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