"I like Cleveland." That is what it says on the sides of taxis in Cleveland, Ohio. "I like Cleveland. I don't dislike it. I don't love or hate it. Nor am I completely indifferent because I live and work here driving a taxi. I like Cleveland. For now."

Personally, I've spent far too many hours in Cleveland though I too like it. The city is to me the Greyhound Station, the bar down the street from the station, and a Polaroid of a brassiere stuck in a tree. I took this photo en route from the station to the bar. My lady and I had just come from Chicago (another city I like) to visit my brother Peter, and his wife, Heather. If I have this right the point of the trip was to see my father who had come to the states from England. He had a granddaughter he hadn't yet met. He was nervous because he had left the states six years earlier because he owed the IRS a sizable sum. As it happens my father's boundless paranoia was unfounded and he along with his soon-to-be wife entered the country free of any hullabaloo; much less a court summons.

But at any rate, what occupied my mind on the way to Newark was the fact that I hadn't seen my pops in nearly six years (that and a ridiculous amount of heroin and cocaine). What was I saying?

It's never a straight shot east to either Newark or New York. There is the constant Cleveland. Customs for emotional baggage. A checkpoint where one is forced to be sedentary for at least two to twelve hours. Every time I've had to change buses at the Cleveland station the same thought occurs to me: I could go back. I may, if I wish, turn around and either go back the same way or in a completely different direction altogether. Allow me to propose Cheyenne. Feasibly, I could get another ticket, ditch my girl, and start the life that I may or may not have wanted all over again. Hello Cheyenne.

I've never done this. There is a looming question of courage but I am unsure as to what the answer may be.

TOILETS

What is now the driver's lounge, on the second floor of the Cleveland Greyhound Station, used to be the toilets. To cut back on unsupervised fucking, sucking and fixing the civil wizards of Greyhound removed the doors of the stalls (at least in the men's). Now while one is on the bus it can be, that one becomes constipated. At least temporarily. This is due to lack of foresight on the travelers part by giving one's gastronomy's will over to the itineraries of Greyhound Inc. The choice between Hardees and Dunken Donuts is the choice between starch/meat or starch/sugar. Not exactly an Ideal prescription for an adequate bowel movement. Of course there is the physical stasis compounded by the continuous jack-hammering of the innards while riding the bus. Therefore one looks forward to walking about, shifting one's viscera. The station is a fairly open space that encourages meandering of all sorts. Unfortunately when I frequented said depot reflective privacy was inconceivable in the crapper. I can't shit with spectators (whom were unavoidable due to lack of doors on the stalls).

Hey dude how you doin'?
I'm defecating.
Oh yeah? You like to party?
Could you fuck off, please?
For real?
Goddamn it, I'm trying to take a shit! Fuck off!
(pause) Where you headed?
Jesus.
Naw, for real, where you headed?
Please, just leave me alone.
But, ummm...you like to party?
(etc.)

Now there are the semi-fancy airport like toilets in the terminal. Complete with doors and all. Yet it seems to be only an illusion since the memory is fresh of having to fend off come-ons of all sorts. It's an inside joke with my colon and Cleveland as I know it.

MYTHS AND SUCH

The relative frugality and convenience of the bus makes for a great many stereotypes created by non-bus-using folk. That is to say stereotypes of the passengers. Primarily, all sorts of poor whites, blacks, and every manner of non-English speaking substrata. The prospect of spending any amount of time with these types longer than standing in line at the post office is somewhat unbearable for many of my worthy constituents in the underworld of the superchic. But, myself, I know better being a member of the overworld of shit-hot-chic. It's like when my friend joined the army and was stationed in some remote spot and called home blubbering about how all the assholes in the world were in the army. His mother told him calmly; "Honey, there are assholes everywhere, not just the army." My point being economics has nothing to do with the chances of having a pleasant journey when you're randomly seated next to a stranger. Ever take a look at the hotbed of fuckers in first-class? Viola! Asshole central. (Yes, I'm aware of the double-standard.)

CLEVELAND CONVERSATION

(The only preamble necessary is that we had split some amphetamines which somehow obliged me to sit and listen even though I really just wanted to run around the block a few dozen times.)

You ever been to Panama?
Nope.
That's where I'm from. Fuckin' beautiful, man.
Yeah?
Yeah. You in the service?
Naw.
Don't look it. Don't know why I asked. I'm from Panama, man. I was in Viet Nam. Panana's better, believe me. Beautiful. The women there have bigger pussies I think. That sounds weird, hunh?
Well, I guess you'd know, right?
Believe me, man. Big pussy, man. Other hand; Viet Nam. Little pussy. Little bitty chinky pussy. You that woman over there? White lady with the glasses?
Yeah.
She gots a big pussy, man. You know how I know?
You fucked her?
Naw, man. What happened was this. She and I, we was on that bus since LA. We start talking, blah blah, this and the other type bullshit. Says she was a nurse. I tell her I was a medic in Viet Nam, which is bulllshit by the way. So the bus stops at a MacDonalds somewhere in Texas. This one old lady, she been yappin' all the way from LA. We stop for chow and this old lady drops. See it's like one in the morning so the white lady with the glasses is still sleepin' while a few of us are smoking or eating our big macs. But by now half are hanging over the body of this loud mouth old lady who keeled over. People are panicking and etcetera so I put out my smoke and get back on the bus to wake nursey.
This old lady, she die?
I don't know man. I been around that shit too much. I just went to get nursey.
Right.
Right. So I walk to the back of the bus where we was sittin'. You know those three seats?
By the toilet.
By the toilet. So she's all curled up with her wide ass facing me. So I give her a little tap. On the behind. She stirs a little. Then I put my hand on that pussy and I can't believe my fingers. Big ol' wide open pussy. My hands not moving at first but she seems to warm up a bit, kinda doin' these gentle bucks with her hips.
Get the fuck.
Naw, man, on my mother's grave! She even lets out a little groan. Just then her eyes peek up at me and she lets out a weak little hello. She's fuckin' smilin' at me man! I've forgotten all about that old bitch on the floor in Micky D's. I'm just about to propose we jump in the restroom for quick hump- I mean I've just begun to open my mouth! -when this old Korean couple gets on screaming for a fucking doctor. So I drop the smile and the stare and come off all serious telling her my initial intentions about putting my hands on her. Of course she's gotta get all serious too and rush off like some fucking TV actor to the rescue.
Damn, man, you got robbed.
Hell no. I had my hand on that big pussy for a good thirty seconds! I didn't lose a damn thing.

SUSPENDED ANIMATION

The velocity of the bus does not die down completely when I step off en route. There is a false continuance of motion and travel. This is why I meander around when disembarked; to preserve the drift. Suspended in Cleveland, either eager or anxious for things to come. Cleveland has my gratitude.

- Ben Redgrave, Chicago, drunk.