There was an abundance of time. Two days of it heaved together, saddled with a precarious kind of patience. You could not leave. But, you were rolling, save for in south east Texas where the thing stopped and sat on the tracks for almost six hours. Someone came over the horn every few hours and addressed everyone like schoolchildren.
Coming from California, the first hours sent us blankly into the wasteland that rose from a provenance of builders and their dishonesty. Then that nonsense succumbed and the natural earth returned. Every few miles phone reception dropped out. There was a comfort, an obsessive return to the screen every few minutes only to find it still blanked by so much wide open acreage. Then Alpine came into view. There had been a storm, a rainbow, and a mountain of scrapped metal junk awaiting a new life in China. But Alpine sat in a coolness you forget about when you think of Texas.
The station was closed, the air was right, and the conductors encouraged everyone to stretch out for a bit. The brakes were acting up. So we walked over to each other and pulled out cigarettes. But I kept going. There was a hotel, and one of those old time movie theaters now furiously abdicating the western lands in favor of CVS and MetroPCS stores shaped like inhospitable boxes of stucco. Then it was back on the car, and the cloaking blanket of night.
by Hank Cherry