Drifting in One Spot II

Trailways pulls in from all points beyond at about 1:30 a.m. most nights and aside from the cops or the taxi drivers I’m the first one to interview the folks who decided to reach the end of the line in Sheridan. The summer is busy and almost every morning a few drunks stumble in or maybe hippies with backpacks. Indians and Mexicans don’t ask me for a room, just where the campground is, but the hippies can surprise you by pulling American Express cards out of their plastic velcro RRRIPPP wallets, slavophilic, cheap.

In fact Trailways is how I arrived here, on the late bus (from Casper) and I hopped off already knowing where the Center was, and I spent my last bucks on the room for a night complete with televised 1951 spy movie full of alienation themes that must be scheduled to air whenever drifters settle in for the night somewhere. Now I have the job of the fellow who sold me that room, and he’s glad he has another one, I bet.

So the winters are slower and the drunks will tend to ask if they can stay inside the lobby and warm up but if it seems like they mean to catch a bus-station style catnap I explain that I’m not running a Reagan Ranch. Right around last Christmas about a few days beforehand I was surprised by an unattractive girl of maybe 15 or less who pops in Sunday night off the bus and of course even with the lust in my heart I had leftover charitable impulses enough to offer coffee.

It was not long to establish that young miss was if not a junkie then at least a chipper and probably carrying AIDS or worse, if you stay up all night developing your models the way Freud did by studying only the sick at heart and then meet an hallucinating bimbo with swollen glands and respiratory problems from Kansas on her way to Billings to stay with a guy she knew there over Christmas. Lust dies and To While Away Ye Hours I asked did she play Chess only to find that while the answer is to affirm, distractions precluded absorption of the lesson about how the Knight moved.

To wrap it up I allowed her to sit and doze and when off duty bought breakfast because it was fun to know that all the dumpy daughters-of-Boss with eye on me now also have eye on messy girl at table from nowhere. Then we hit on Doug’s door at the Edwards and he doled out a few pink hearts to himself and those around him so that high gear would have company but we split up, babe to Billings we presume and we for Morning Scotch and bull session.

All by way of introducing Trailways girl. Anyway, some months ago or some time I don’t recall we had another god damned wedding party for low lifes who still believe if you spend money on it maybe it will stick. Coming on duty that night meant dealing with smashing-table, beer-on-floor pouring types in the back room so I paged Security to help. There were even some grim swarthy boys from South de Border, with even-odds that the late people leftover were only most distant friends of the groom and good luck to him if the bride.

We kicked out the assholes and the creeps after time but we got a rack o’ shit in return and I didn’t fail to make note of how in future I’ll be disinclined to do favors for men named MacDonald in this county. Later on while I was rereading ARABY, what to my trembling eyes should appear but the babe of Trailways who many months back waltzed in on deathbed! She was accompanied by the tricked-up Trina, and it was meet and right that this one not be called: Katrina. Pout, makeup, swollen lip protrudes in challenge, sullen. Not at all cute but ready and that’s enough.

They sit there and yeah, it’s February that’s right, because Babe (name forgotten if ever known) asks, — Got any hearts candy?

— H’m, says I. No—o. Now wait a second.
I run back to room where wedding was and return with a plateful of what just happens to be candies in the shape of hearts for Valentine wedding.

— Oh, they groan.

— What, go ahead, have some. They roll their eyes to each other and I grin and then I groan myself. The phone rings.

— Hello, Sheridan Center, etc.

— Yes, I left my pocketbook, would you look.

The wedding party, I think. — Certainly yes, be right back, I tell her.

In back room right there is pocketbook among bottles on floor and contents strewn. Hair curler, baggie of weed, wallet, what-else. Stiff all into bag and run front. On phone say, YES WE HAVE IT AND YOU MAY STOP BY TO PICK IT UP.

— It’s very important thank you.

Now is time to snap my fingers and grab attention of Trina plus.

— Now, I ask them. If you were to be finders and others were weepers on the case of the bag of weed, would you regard it is immoral to engage in redistribution to help friends when they are down?

Both rush forward when the critical three words of communion are told up, and saying — yes yes, give it to me, give it. So Ah reaches in quicklike and out, and in a trice they is gone.

Now it wasn’t even very long afterward that a nice young lady obviously from out the college drove up and smiled and asked where is the pocketbook. I have to say I didn’t swallow hard or anything. With a glance inside she snaps it shut.

— Thanks very much, sir, thanks, she says and is gone.

Nor sight nor sound of the three has been back to electrify me.

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