Sunday, August 1, 2010

Busted Car Blues

5:30AM. Night. A dark walk to my first bus stop. Cool humid air. Crickets. The long and steady exhale of an occasional car rushes by, killing the night with its brightness before dying itself. A spider’s midnight engineering webs across my face and chest and I sputter and slap myself. A man shadows by on the opposite side of the street and heroic fantasies of self defense occupy my mind until I reach my standing place. At the bus stop, the early morning gradually turns to early day and the romance of my adjusted routine sours to reality: busted car blues. The expensive kind. The bus smells of heat and dust. Harsh florescent lights mirror out the morning and all that can be seen outside is the brightest neon of commerce. The coach wobbles forward and stops, forward and stops, forward and stops, as though it is a coach, drawn by frowning beasts of burden. Graffiti is etched into the windows with diamonds. Advertisements of who to call for schizophrenia or depression (Press #4 for veterans). English and Spanish. Elevator pings of stops requested. I see the O’Reilly’s, where I struggled to change a brake light then gave up and drove away angry. There’s the Half Price Books I visit for unfamiliar copies of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I collect them. Don’t know why. I bought a puzzle at Great Hall of Games so I could relax. 1000 pieces. There’s a piece count where relaxation ends and high blood pressure begins. There’s her house, a woman whom I've known for years but only in the night. Austin Books, my favorite comic book store. The Drag. I’ve hiccupped down this road many a twilight, whiskey bubbles popping in my vision, pink elephants haunting my steps. There’s Einstein’s, the arcade I went to after resolving to finish an 11th grade school day, then changing my mind and leaving . . . on a city bus. There’s the Whataburger I visited the morning Craig wouldn’t speak to me because I made him spend the night in a strange house while I called on a lady we’d run into that evening. Breakfast taquitos. There’s Town Lake (which is now called Lady Bird Lake, which isn’t a lake at all but a river. The Colorado River) where I used to run every day. 5 miles.

4.5 hours of fun. Every day.
The bus is now filled with proletariats, I think as I open a copy of The Communist Manifesto. Brown and black men and women with leathery skin and droopy faces. I try not to think of their commonality because it’s too early for outrage. I read and after 30 minutes, I’m carsick.


Chindiana said...

Cool piece Carlos. Never knew anyone could wax lyrical about taking the bus! And just after only the first day too! By the time you get your car back from the shop ( i assume its in the shop) you would have the literary equivalent to War and Peace!

JennAventures said...

I don't drive in the Bean. Public transit all the way if I want to get anywhere. But-the transit is awesome.

I CANNOT imagine bussing it around Austin. But I'm not sure how reliable the PT is there. I'm actually likely moving there in January and I'm stewing about buying new wheels.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Thank you, Chindiana. I find poetry in public transportation...something about the stink.

I'd rather ride a public transit system, Jenna, but Austin's, while reliable, isn't very extensive. Boston to Austin, huh? That's quite the change.

Julie Buz. said...

LOVE IT! Now I'm feeling extremely guilty because I really feel that I should be giving away chunks of money for this... (but then again, I love The Economist and it's available on the internet for free, as well.) :o)

f8hasit said...

Carlos, this isn't a blog post. This is literature.

I love it.
It's way better than Hemmingway.

BTW. I've an extra car you can have. You just have to come to the north to retrieve it.

carma said...

I was thinking it seems reasonably relaxing until I saw the 4.5 hours a day :-( wishing your car a speedy recovery.

reberto.alberto said...

Hi there! is organizing a short story writing contest.

We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check -

Happy writing!

C. Andres Alderete said...

The recommended donation is 1,000,000 dollars, Julie.

Nancy, I'm on my way.

That's what I thought too, Carma. Trust me. It's hell.

Reberto, since you're from India, I thought I'd tell you that Reberto is spelled with an "o": Roberto. Also, if you're spamming writers, know English grammar and punctuation. Namas Day

Cheryl said...

That's awesome. I can't believe this is about a walk to the bus stop and then taking the bus. I probably would have said "so I was walking to the bus stop and there were this strange dude on the other side". But that is, OF COURSE, why I'm not a writer.

I was going to buy an intelligent book today. And by intelligent I mean, something that doesn't involve shopaholic or confessions. I might just read your blog instead.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Hey thanks, Cheryl. I'm also exceedingly handsome.

Heather said...

This is truly amazing, I really enjoyed it.
I guess in a way you are lucky to have public transportation at least. I know the busted car blues, but out in the rural area, I'm stuck.
Hope you get your car fixed soon.

sonya said...

lol....namas day...that's funny.

and you should free yourself like this more often.

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