Seven hours into the journey, the romance of the Greyhound bus and the American highway had long been replaced by a deep hatred of my fellow man.  I sunk lower into my seat and stared into the darkness beyond the window, trying to ignore the human zoo around me.  Opposite me, a couple sucked on each others’ faces as if stuck together with superglue.  The snowboarder behind with the headphones on continued to kick my seat at ten second intervals and the middle aged man in front of me mumbled to himself; all of which was beginning to draw heavily on my lifetime allowance of goodwill to others.  ‘Sammy the Psychopath’, as I had named him, left at Sacremento.  As he had reminded us every thirty seconds since San Francisco, as he’d walked up and down the aisle, he’d forgotten his medication and it was with some relief that I watched him wander downtown in search of pharmaceutical salvation.

‘Next stop Truckee’ announced the driver in a friendly but disinterested way.  No-one would get off here.  We were all heading for Tahoe where we would attempt to lose ourself in one diversion or another; skiers and snowboarders on the slopes of Heavenly and those of a more addictive nature in the casinos on the Nevada side of the State line.  The bus stopped and the latest batch of human rejects shuffled their way aboard.  I picked up my book in an attempt to avoid contact but seats were filling fast and my hopes for any kind of personal space were disappearing.

‘Can I join you?’ came a voice from somewhere inside a shapeless blue hoodie as it settled down in the seat beside me without waiting for a response.

‘Please do.’ I replied though more out of politeness than necessity, eager to retreat back into my book.

‘Hi, my name’s Julia’ as the top came down to reveal Californian bleach blonde hair and whitened teeth.

I put my book down.  Perhaps the human zoo had something to offer, after all?


About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

14 Responses to Greyhound

  1. marc nash says:

    nice rich portrait of human life in all its colours

  2. Rachel says:

    “Sammy the Psychopath’, … left at Sacremento” 🙂 Very good

  3. John Wiswell says:

    Hatred for your fellow man can often cave into intoxication for your fellow woman.

  4. Steve Green says:

    This put me in mind a little of John Voigt’s bus ride in “Midnight cowboy”

    I like the lovely upbeat note for the ending, there’s nothing to beat a good book on a long journey, except maybe a beautiful conversationalist. 🙂

    • I’ve never seen that film – I’ll need to watch it now. I did several of these long journeys when I was in California – the buses are very cheap – but there was generally a sense of relief at the end. All sorts of people on there.

  5. Deborah Rickard says:

    Nice – in the true sense of the word. Concise, simple, well drawn and neatly ended. I look forward to more.

  6. Aidan Fritz says:

    You capture well the flavor of riding public transport: the hoarding of personal space, the goading of fellow passengers. The ending has a nice circular feel.

  7. Chuck Allen says:

    I loved the line about the romance of the road turning to hatred. Travel has a tendency to do that, huh? And, as the ending shows, our viewpoint can change as quickly as the scenery.

    Great story!

  8. ZJW says:

    Nice — this is the kind of situation about which I might have written. I quite enjoy the annoyance of the narrator — I like to think that in fifteen minutes he’ll discover that Julia is a man or a robot or something.

  9. Deanna Schrayer says:

    Pete, this is an Excellent example of showing as opposed to telling, allowing the reader to imagine the lives of so many different people along with the narrator. Fantastic work! Welcome to #fridayflash!

  10. Thank you to everyone for their kind comments!

  11. The first line many want to read more. I also love how after that, every bit of writing told us more about that first line. And the theme… real and interesting. I was expecting something awful to happen to the main character, but instead I find that he is just another animal–looking for something to stalk–in the human zoo of life.

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