- They were seven when they left Abilene
- It wasn’t as much fun as I had hoped
- Maybe I’ll just stay here for awhile
They were seven when they left Abilene. They were new graduates from the university there. For the most part they sat together in the middle of the bus on both sides of the aisle and told stories. Comfortable with one another as old friends are wont to be.
California, that’s where they were bound, fame and fortune beckoned. Bill had studied theatre, Andrew knew lighting, Amy and Katherine had voices like angels. Mike had a screenplay that was almost finished and Walter craved the adventure. Walter had convinced Susan to come along; and she came because she loved him. She didn’t want to be the one left behind. She didn’t want to be standing at the depot in Abilene waving goodbye as he disappeared from her life forever.
They stopped in Big Springs for fuel and bathrooms. They stopped again in Van Horn. When they pulled into the station in El Paso the driver announced that they would be here for an hour and a half. He suggested the Jackrabbit Cafe, across the street from the depot if they were hungry.
Walter and Susan stayed on the bus, making out. Amy and Katherine decided to hunt for souvenirs in the gift shop. Bill tagged along with the girls and Andrew decided a walk was in order. He wanted to stretch his legs. Only Mike went to the Jackrabbit.
The waitress there was a young girl, maybe 18. She had dark hair and her name tag said “Mari”.
“What can I get you?” She asked Mike when he took a seat at the counter. She had a pencil behind her ear and a pot of coffee in her hand. Her order pad was tucked in an apron pocket.
“A cup of coffee would be nice.” He smiled at her and thought about what it would be like to spend time with her; maybe a picnic on the side of a stream, or visiting an art gallery downtown.
She smiled back. “Just passin’ thru?” she asked.
“Maybe,” he said. “Now that I’ve met you I’m rethinking that.”
“Well, I recommend the Monte Cristo,” she told him. “Esteban makes a mean Monte Cristo and he can make the fries extra crispy if you want.”
“Who’s Esteban?” Mike asked.
“Esteban’s the cook.”
“A Monte Cristo it is then, with extra crispy fries” he ordered and she scribbled it on the ticket, went back and slid it onto the wheel in the window. He watched her make her rounds, speaking with the customers, topping up their coffees, making change, and sliding bills onto their tables.
Straightaway though, she came back to Mike and they talked about why he was going to California. They talked about his screenplay and his dreams.
She asked if he had to be in California to sell a play in California. They flirted shamelessly till he had to leave. He put money on the counter top and turned to go.
“Hey,” Mari called him back, “you know, they’re hirin’ at the gas station.”
Mike waved goodbye to her and hurried across the street. The driver was checking tickets at the door. Mike took the first two steps up, to board the bus before he stopped and turned back to the driver. “Can you get my luggage out from below?” he asked. “I’m thinking, maybe I’ll just stay here for awhile.”
Mike waved to the others as the bus pulled away.
They were only six when they left El Paso.
Thirty one minutes to write. I spent less than a minute to edit. One of these days I’ll learn to spell “souvenir”. I read it and figured I would let the raw character of the writing slip through my fingertips. Hope you enjoy the unedited me.