Exterior. Port Authority. New York.
Getting the Greyhound to Toronto to buy a car.
Big plans for a road trip.
Pure Kerouac job.
Now. Some fella with a fancy suitcase was after putting money into the vending machine but it wouldn’t work.
His diet coke didn’t come down and he wants to speak to a manager. His wife keeps saying: ‘Forget it about it, honey. It’s just a coke.’
‘I can’t ride all night if I’m thirsty.’
‘Just get the damn bags already!’
Then a woman skipped the queue and another woman said: ‘Hey, bitch, who the fuck do you think you are?!’
‘I was here first.’ She said.
‘No you were not you arrogant cunt, get the fuck back to where you were.’
‘Excuse me,’ she said. ‘how dare you talk to me like that. I’m a physician.’
‘I don’t give a fuck if you’re a fuckin goddamn astronaut, get your bitch ass back to the back of the queue.’
‘Lady, you need therapy for your anger.’
‘I need to kick you where it fuckin hurts.’
‘Ladies!’ Shouted the bus driver. ‘Be cool. Ok. Everybody just relax. You will all get seats.’
‘Greyhound, huh?’ Said an old man beside me.
‘Is it always like this?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘It’s usually worse.’
Rare silence, then he said: ‘Last year a guy was sleeping on one of these buses, had his headphones on too loud. Guy behind him didn’t like it so he attacked him with a knife.’
‘Was he ok?’
‘Everyone was evacuated. The crazy motherfucker keep going til he cut the man’s head off.’
‘Is that true?’
‘True son. Cops arrived to see him laughing like a maniac, holding the severed head out the window to show everybody.’
Interior. Bus. It smelled like old sick on a carpet.
The driver made a speech.
Said we were now in his territory and it was his rules.
And it was illegal to smoke. And if anyone smoked there’d be serious consequences.
And we should think about the health implications of cigarettes for ourselves and those around us.
And if anyone smoked in the toilet he’d know because he had sensors and he’d take the utmost serious action if anyone broke the rules.
He drove off then and the woman in front of me took a piece of chicken out of her pocket and started eating it.
Then she put on loud music from her phone. Some kind of rap. I thought she might get sprayed with bullets from an Uzi but no said anything and that was a relief.
Down the back, two Japanese were watching films on their laptop and the man across the aisle was mumbling at the window while touching himself. Other than that it was fairly quiet.
This was back when I used to drink so I took out a bottle of red wine and pulled on that and thought about sleep.
There was an almighty blast of alarms and electronic squeals and the overhead lights came on full blast.
The bus didn’t grind to a halt, more like skidded and almost lost control on its way to the hard shoulder. It was hardly stopped before the driver was half way down the aisle en route to the toilets. I was thinking he must have a serious case of the scuts.
He got there and pulled open the door and we all got the choky scent of cigarette smoke mixed with stale piss. Inside sat a very surprised Mexican man half way through a Marlborough.
The driver didn’t say anything, just pulled him out by the collar and dragged him up the bus and dropped kicked him out the door.
Middle of nowhere.
We had to wait for the cops arrive.
When they came, with sirens and full flashing lights, they interrogated the Mexican, then arrested him and left.
The bus took off after and everyone was quiet and no one else smoked.
I thought about listening to some music on my headphones but said I better not chance it just in case.
Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).
El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.