Breakfast and a Cigarette: A Novella in Four Directions
(page 6 of 6)
Dawn spread quickly over the crests of the mountains, shimmered along the ridge tops and gradually flowed like molasses into the foothills, turning the pastures an iridescent green. A few cows here and there grazed in the morning sun. Horses with their manes blazing in the horizontal light shook the dew from their withers and playfully nuzzled each other. Ray felt a great joy at this new day, a joy he had not felt in years. Suddenly, life held out its promise once again. Removed from the numbing routine, now he was living—instead of making a living. His spirit soared as the bus raced southward. The stale meals at the junk food restaurants, the fitful sleep, the constant coughing and sneezing, the irritating, never-ending stops all fell to a minor note and were quickly forgotten as he realized he was free. He imagined himself back in New Jersey, schlepping to work, arguing with Liz, struggling to pay bills for things he never really wanted or needed. Then, as if suddenly remembering a lost wallet, his thoughts turned once again to his errand.
“One last thing,” he thought. “Just one last thing.”
Shortly before noon they pulled into the depot. The engine stopped and the bus became sadly quiet. The doors opened and the sounds of the world outside began filling the coach, gently brushing past the dazed passengers, temporarily reviving them. The driver stood, yanking at his pants with a self-satisfied gesture. Facing his charges, he steadied himself in the aisle, sucking in a deep draught of North Carolina air.