Terminal Condition

Finding Glory at the Phoenix Greyhound bus station

Here comes Glory again. This time his eyes are direct, unsparing, scary. He moves in on a woman sitting just a few feet from me. He really wants something from her. The woman appears to be on the downside of beauty, with dirty red, shoulder-length hair and round, green eyes. She is reading a paperback, Tom Clancy or something.

Glory sits down next to her and offers up his patented, saucy gibe.
"I believe I got what you need, sister," he says, the words rattling through that horrible grin. "I got spir-it-choo-al-i-tee."

The women, disgusted, gets up, picks up her baggage and moves to stand at door number nine, portal to the next bus to Dallas. Glory shakes his head, stands, and shuffles over to the pay phones with his tired suitcase.

Whom would he call?
Ah, bus travel. An eerie romanticism floats around it, a sentiment discernible even here in Phoenix. The company now known as Greyhound was born in 1914 in Minnesota. Driving a seven-seat Hupmobile, Swedish immigrant Carl Eric Wickman began taking miners between two Minnesota towns for 15 cents one way, a quarter round trip.

Now Greyhound takes women and children away from abusive lovers, husbands and fathers; hopeful parolees to some inner peace and autonomy; young couples with newborns to new lives in Tucson or Tennessee. Greyhound reunites moms with daughters, dads with sons, husbands with wives.

And if nothing else, the thrill of yet another cluster of lights on the horizon from places called Lordsburg, Las Cruces or Los Alamos could be enough; where romantic dreams of Kerouac's railroad earth, all-night diners, and 2 a.m. stretches of road are metaphors for self-discovery. Metaphors for a kind of glory.

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