A few years ago, I was headed to a gig, May Wilson in tow. I decided the best way to get me where I needed to go was to take the Greyhound. Anyway, let’s just say it was an interesting trip. Because when you ride the Greyhound, you meet every mutation on God’s green Earth and then some.
When I was on the trip, some strange woman who had no teeth asked me if she could use my cellphone. She looked like she could have been off Maury Povich or Jerry Springer for any reason. The toothless crone, who was all gums, somehow weighed nearly 500 pounds. I am not being rough on her, I am just wondering how someone of her size with no teeth could get anything high calorie down her throat. Yet she was doing it. If that ain’t skill, I don’t know what is.
This bizarre woman informed me her daughter was having a baby at that moment. In the next breath she asked if she could borrow my phone. I told her no. This woman was a stranger I met on the bus, and a shady one at that. Plus the fact she was so fat and had no teeth both fascinated and scared me. If I got close in any way I would get to know it all and God I didn’t want to.
She got off the bus somewhere, and I overheard her telling someone that this same daughter who was having a baby had just gotten out of rehab. The random man she was telling this to mentioned he had just been discharged from the psych hospital, and was no longer having random hallucinations. Wow, I certainly picked a bus full of people winning like Charlie Sheen. There was some real anti-talent here. If I were a producer, I would have exhibited them all in the freak show in some way.
For a minute, I thought the idea was cruel. Then I saw a near indigent itching his scalp talking to another indigent. One mentioned he was currently homeless and travelling the country. However, he was worried he had lice and a bug in his ear. I had bathed that morning. Suddenly, I felt like a misfit. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t correct. This wasn’t supposed to be. Granted, I was the one with the dummy in the suitcase but still……
Then Frank sat down next to me. He stuck out because he was a decent looking black dude who was rather sharply dressed for his choice of ride. Frank and I quickly struck up a conversation, and I found he was quite easy to talk to actually. We talked about life, travelling, and the places we had been. During our adventure, Frank had purchased some fried chicken. Frank felt I looked skinny, tired, and underfed, so he gave me a piece.
As we chatted Frank revealed he was an ex-con. After seeing what I had on this trip, this somehow didn’t surprise me. Frank also mentioned he had a cousin LaVon that he had been really close with in childhood. The two had been born days apart, and as teenagers committed a combination of burglaries together. However, as adults they had gone their separate ways. Frank when on to tell me his cousin was arrested for a series of armed robberies, and was sent away to prison. When that happened, the two lost touch because shortly thereafter, Frank was framed for stealing cars. While he freely admitted to the teenage burglaries, Frank drew the line at grand left auto. However, the police pursued him in order to get a conviction. And their conviction they got. Frank was sentenced to 10 years.
Frank mentioned he missed his cousin LaVon terribly, and wondered what happened to the man. I asked how long LaVon’s term had been. Apparently LaVon had been sentenced to 15 years, but had done 5 when Frank was convicted. However, Frank had only served 3 of his sentence and had been out for 4 years at this point. Frank also mentioned LaVon had a short fuse and was more likely to max out, but he wasn’t sure. That is when I had an idea. I suggested Frank 4-1-1 LaVon.
Mind you this was in the days before iphones, and Frank was unaware of the magic of 4-1-1. For some reason Frank didn’t have a phone, but then again, no one besides me had one it seemed. So I let him 4-1-1 his cousin on my phone to see if the man was free. Plus Frank’s stop was the next one, I figured why not. Sure enough, Frank found LaVon. Frank was surprised to hear his cousin’s voice, and LaVon was equally as surprised to hear Frank’s. LaVon wondered how Frank had found him, because until recently he had been homeless. Frank relayed that a lady on the bus named April told him about 4-1-1. Quickly, the cousins made plans to reconnect and reunite.
Frank gave me back my phone and got off at the next stop. In case I got hungry, he gave me the remainder of his friend chicken. I reunited two cousins that had lost each other because of the penal system. In a bizarre way, this tale is sweet. In another way, if they were arrested for a string of robberies I would feel partially responsible for reuniting the dynamic duo.
Sigh, only on the Greyhound
Come see me Friday January 2
The Metropolitan Room
34 W 22nd Street
11:45 PM. I am breaking a record, bitches