Bus 1304, 10:30 PM, January 4, 2011—4:05 PM, January 5, 2011

I woke up in Portland on the front bus seat, missing my four front teeth. I suppose at this point I should tell you I have been missing my four front teeth for a while now and had been wearing a partial. The story of my missing teeth is typical for me: I was blacked-out drunk outside of the punk rock bar when a tweaker picked a fight with me. It did not end well. However, I am such a trooper, some sources say I still spent all my money that night well after this event. It had come loose and fallen out during my drunken slumber, and with my whiskey-soaked brain, I could not manage to locate it. I simply tried asking the driver for assistance, not even considering he was already fed up with me.

“I lost my teeth! Help me find my teeth!” I shouted.

“I don’t care. You need to take your papers to the front desk, they will get you your ticket.”

I stumbled inside and over to the front desk to find a partner in trashed traveling yelling at the attendant. A bull-dyke security guard was approaching. I asked for her assistance.

“I lost my teeth and the driver won’t help me!” I was angry at this point.

“You smell like alcohol, you’re not traveling anymore,” she bitched.

“No I had a drink spilled on me at a show!” I lied.

“You’ve been drinking.”

Damn, she was like Matlock, Sherlock Holmes, and Batman all rolled into one. How could she have possibly see through my lie? I lied to women all the time and got away with it!

I just walked around the corner outside and texted manically. “I’m going to jail. I’m fucked.“ What could I do? So I walked around the block. Lo and behold, the man charged with taking care of my ass came bolting around the corner yelling, “You forgot your bag!” with my heavy, U.S. military issue duffle in hand.

“Come on, you have to get on this bus.”

“I’m scared.”

“Did you find your teeth?”


“Don’t open your mouth or they’ll smell the…” He put his finger over his mouth

“Okay, but…” I shut up, resigning myself to my intoxication, hating my life and hating my journey already. Why was getting drunk on a bus such a big deal? Apparently “no, don’t worry, I’m a writer” doesn’t work in all situations. I wasn’t actually drinking on the bus…yet. At this time, I had the brilliant idea of starting my own bus transportation service, with an open bar. I crawled onto the bus seat for what would be the first of many occurrences of traveling minutes at a time into the future while trying to find a comfortable position.

The bus came to a stop in La Grande, Oregon, which means “The Grand Oregon” in español. It was a shithole with about a foot of snow on the ground, but it was where I could take my first smoke break. I was surprised to find a nearly full pack of Camel Filter 100s (from an unknown source as I have not bothered to ask), a switchblade knife (no doubt from my paranoid, short blond friend), and a bag of weed (from the tall pot-dealing motherfucker), which I buried under the cashews. Oh, fuck me. Whiskey is a killer. As I stood up, the guy in front of me who seemed to stretch on for days held out a Coca-Cola and asked “Do you want this pop, man? I don’t want to carry it.” I nodded and extended my hand, laughing only a bit later that he called soda “pop.” Careful now. Grasp, toss in seat, walk down the lane. We can do this.

I rushed out into the bitter frost like it was my final destination and lit up this freebie. The driver was kicking the tires of the bus, agitated. I would soon learn that this mentality is actually in the employee handbook of Greyhound. It is the duty of all drivers to ensure anyone within eyesight and/or earshot of them is uncomfortable. A toothless bleach-kit blonde who looked in her early fifties but was more than likely in her early thirties and had spent the last several years wide awake and cleaning her house came off the bus halfway through my cigarette.

“We’re just about a-go,” he belted, pointing upward at his seat.

“Well, he’s smoking,” tweaked the tweaker.

“He got out here when I said to.” He threw his arm at me, and she walked back on board. I snuffed my stogie out between my fingers a few times and followed suit, blowing out the soon to be stale smoke.

“He’s not my boss, he’s just a pig,” she flailed and snarled.

I sank into my seat amid the sound of my MP3 player which was at this point all but dead, swigging the Coke as we exited the station, making room for my first cocktail of the road. The lights went off. The driver, through crackles, informed the degenerates on board that the next stop was Bakersville, Oregon. I turned up the volume. Fuck this trip.

When we stopped at Bakersville, I had a mighty fine buzz going, but not nearly enough to suffice for a three-day venture through the “real America.” The stop was merely a glorified convenience store. I began the early stages of what would be a ritual, clutching my cigarette in one hand and digging through my pocket for my neon-green mini-Bic in a zombie-like trance. I smoked next to the meth-head. She smiled at me with empty eyes so full of uselessness. Afterwards, I wandered in for the 30-minute stop somewhat expecting my trip to be close to over. Oh, how naïve we are when we have hope. I stared at the arcade games pretending to consider wasting the precious money I had blown at the bar on ten minutes of mental occupation. Monopoly pinball was the most appealing, but quite frankly, nobody knows how to play pinball. It just happens and sometimes it clicks, like sex.

After retreating to the bathroom stall to fill up my coke with some Travel Easy (I’m trademarking that), I decided to make the rounds of the store. Cigarettes were cheap, but I was fully loaded at the time (in more ways than one). Food would kill my buzz, so no go there. I had to buy something. Paranoid that I would be caught drinking yet again, I decided on gum. Thumbing through Bubblicious brands like Fruity Funk and Tropical Turd, I realized I was 23 and needed an adult’s gum. Rather than opting for any sort of mint that might possibly mask the smell of $17 whiskey, I went for Forever Fruit. I had my Coke still in hand when I asked the cashier if they accepted EBT. “No,” he said. “Did you get that in here?” When I informed him I hadn’t he rolled his eyes and said, “That’s dangerous.”  At this point, the bus driver—let’s call him “Dick”—butted in: “Yeah, they need to learn not to bring stuff into the store.” Dick flirted with a few more of the employees at this particular stop and I was unable to find an electrical outlet. I smoked.

Pissed and wet-brained, I poured myself back into the people tube and opened my notebook. As we pulled out of the truck stop, I noticed that the neon letters that formerly read “TruckSpot” now proudly beamed “UckSpot.” I couldn’t agree more. I stared out the window, watching the beautiful snowy hills of Oregon. It was so dark that the exposed foliage on the sides seemed to be spots in the sky. I wanted to stop and stay there forever, but logic kicked in as it usually does, and I decided against it. I relaxed, waiting to unload my switchblade and ganja onto my final destination.

Swirling my whiskey Coke, eavesdropping on some elderly folk sitting in front of me and scrawling things down in my notebook to keep busy, I fantasized about sex, drugs, and riches.

“I couldn’t imagine being rich, I’m already a drunk now. Thank God I’m a writer, it justifies my alcoholism. Thank God I’m a comedian, it justifies my assholism.”

Our next stop was in Boise, Idaho, outside of a funeral home. Now that’s where I really wanted to be. Once again, there was snow and it was just too fucking cold. I had lost the rest of my Coke-tail from my seat sometime during a minute-nap, but fuck it; I had more hooch and mixer in my inventory. Chewing my Stride gum confidently, I filled up in the bathroom and explored the station. The only food here was from vending machines. $1.50 for a Payday? $1.50 is my payday! I was already tired and irritated. This trip had been so long, and it had only just begun. Still annoyed over my teeth—and Driver Dick—I smoked another cigarette. The tweaker kept smiling at me, reminding me all over again that we had something in common.

I eventually found an electrical outlet by a young poodle-headed man and sat down next to him.

“It’s kind of funny,” he said, pointing to the outlet and looking back at his phone. I tried to plug in, but it was blocked. “I think it’s painted over,” I said, checking for a reset button. “You have to pull up, see?” He helped me plug in and I sat down.

“So where are you headed?” he asked, very obviously a homosexual.


“Ohkay,” he said in a tone like a pissed-off black woman, turning his head and shoulders back. “I’m headed to Chicago.”

I thought I had offended him, but I would later learn he occasionally just did that. We chatted for a bit.

Rather than go through writing lines of pointless chit-chat that I can hardly remember, let me give you the run down on Jason in one short, easy-to-process paragraph. Jason had been traveling with his fiancé Angelo for quite some time ever since the format of the radio station in Portland changed from jazz to pop. They fired everyone. Angelo had gotten a text from his sister explaining that their mother was sick. Jason wasn’t buying it, but Angelo took off to Chicago anyway. He found out five days later that his fiancé had been “fuckin’ around with” a man there. Angelo admitted it and James was on his way. The thing was that Jason did not seem all too upset. What an optimistic guy; what a super-optimistic guy. He explained to me that the Salvation Army, given the right information, will buy you a Greyhound ticket to anywhere you need to go. We eventually got on the subject of scams. I explained the receipt scam that had worked for me time and time again, which I would highly recommend.

  1. Walk into a Radio Shack or other chain store with moderately priced, small items.
  2. Grab one small expensive item and pocket it. Grab another of the same item and purchase it.
  3. Come back five to ten minutes later and explain you threw out the receipt but would like to return what you just purchased because your boyfriend had one. (This adds more pressure because a discrimination suit is not anything anyone wants to deal with. They obviously remember you; fuck the return policy.)
  4. Drive to another Radio Shack with your receipt and return the other item.

He also laid out a plan he claimed had worked time and time again to rent a car and keep it. I don’t suggest trying it, but here it is.

  1. Get a driver’s license in two separate states.
  2. Get a friend’s temporary tags.
  3. Purchase a short flight out of state ahead of time to show the rental agency.
  4. Rent a car using the out-of-state license.
  5. Replace the tags.

Like I said, I wouldn’t really suggest attempting that. That’s the story of Jason.

Jason would be on the same route as myself for quite a while, I figured, so we chatted on the bus as I got progressively louder and more giggly. I had been treating Greyhound like a bar, but since I was the only one who was drunk and we were the only ones talking, I probably shouldn’t have been yelling. Fuck them, I do what I want. That seemed to be the motto of the company’s employees, so I should take this attitude too. I admired Idaho and wrote more bullshit in my travel log. “Call me crazy, but shouldn’t you have a good time all the time? The resources are there, why can’t we just do it? I can’t wait to smoke a J in Denver or maybe even find a bar! I think the world would be a better place if everyone was just stoned. Granted, nothing would get done, but DAMN! It’s all already done! Fuck me, I’m drunk again. These mountains sure are beautiful. I’m going to run out of whiskey before I reach Cincy. Maybe I can get more; hell, I do have a switchblade. Damn, it’s beautiful out here. I wish I had mushrooms, but not really, I am already doing a good enough job of being a jackass.”

On the same bus, eventually, we met Arthur. Arthur was only with us for two stops; he was headed to Las Vegas. He looked like a snake oil salesman and had no problem opening up and explaining his entire life’s story in between phone calls from his wife, whom the stories were all about. Let me give you the rundown on Arthur. His wife, who had lived in several places with him previously, had split from him for a bit. As it turned out, when our friend Arthur came back to Idaho, she alerted him that she had been seeing another man, but that wasn’t entirely true. She had in fact married another man. Arthur got drunk and flipped out on them, reasonably so, and left. She drove him to the ‘Hound station, gave him a pocket full of cash, and sent him on his way. Then she more or less harassed him to come back when her other husband found out she had married Arthur years earlier, and he was worried that his co-husband might act irrationally and fucking murder him. So here he was, wearing a fedora, on the hell tube back to Las Vegas. One thing that particularly confused me about Arthur was a phone call in which he spouted off the most obscene string of words I have ever heard that ended with “…so you can just suck a fat baby’s dick!” To this day, months later, I am still baffled as to what this means: suck a fat baby’s dick or suck a fat baby’s dick. Is it a fat baby or a large dick that just happens to reside between the legs of an infant?

My two black companions and I got off in Idaho and walked to a WinCo Foods. May I take the time right now to express how much I really love WinCo. I need not go into the details simply to spare those of you who have never experienced the true glory of what this fine chain of establishments has to offer to your life as a whole. We got some fucking chips and salsa and had a little party on the bus. This wasn’t so bad.

After a while, the can pulled into a gas station somewhere in Utah. Right away I noticed a semi-truck pulling a trailer with “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD” in large bold letters etched on the side, with “Not a Swear Word” scrawled under it. It was then that it dawned on me that I was going to see my mother for the first time in six years. Images of what her living room might look like lead me to think of praying hands ceramics and copies of the Last Supper sandwiched between Elvis collectables. Let me inform you now that my mental image was exactly right. My mother is a devout evangelical who had an affair and ran away with an Elvis impersonator when I was sixteen. She wonders why I drink.

I went inside, noticing a sign that alerted that “Consuming alcohol is a crime (misdemeanor) on these premises.” The inside was somewhat large, with a dining area and Subway to the left and general chips and drink bullshit on the right. I wandered around looking for something to munch on. Sun Chips? Fuck that. Pepsi? Not without whiskey, damn you. Cookies? I can’t brush my remaining teeth. A bagged sandwich lunch? Ohkay! as my friend Jason might say. I grabbed my lunch and walked over to the counter, manned by a purple-haired punk rock girl. I immediately pictured her naked, fellating my penis and staring up at me, ready to swallow my manly load. I began to strut and nearly fell, placing the large paper bag on the counter. She rang it up and I slid my EBT card through the reader.

“Invalid card, what is it?”

“Uh, EBT.”

“Oh, we are in the process of changing our system to accept EBT.”

“I’m in the process of going to Ohio.”

She smiled. I would have smiled, but given my current lack of grill gear, I would have looked like an asshole. I retreated to the bus at half-mast, my thoughts racing. Maybe if I would’ve smiled, she would have taken me into the back room and let me eat her ham sandwich. Wow, that’s gross.


For all installments of “My Love and Peace Letter to Greyhound,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1