I drove across the country four times. Two times going east, two going west. Did the train west once, too. And all you can see at night is the black blur of stillness. There’s not a sound to identify outside of the bus or Penske truck or car. There’s just the inside and you with it, scouring that black blur. Is there a message? Is there a hint? Is there something else beside the oncoming lights of the next town beside the gas stations and the fast food places?
There were shorter rides, to Detroit, to Dayton, to Atlanta. Austin. A train to New Orleans one time, too. Most of that ride passed in the dark. And nobody said anything to anyone, unlike the other train ride, westward ho, where everyone gathered together in the smoking car and told stories about some future they hadn’t yet decided on. Even the conductors got in on it.
Eventually you tire of music. You skip past the songs you know, searching instead for a voice to cradle you, to keep you earnest, to prepare you for wherever it is you’re going.
Images by Jeffrey Pratt Gordon
Words by Hank Cherry