Chapter 13 The Bus

Agnes had loosened up with a couple of glasses of wine and became more direct with her questions, as though searching for something.

“So you said at one point, what? after the farm? you lived in the woods, in a bus, cutting trees? Did I get that right?

“Yes, after the farm. I ended up living with an ex-navy seal, an underwater demolition expert. He let me park my bus on the acreage he rented and since there were no neighbors to complain and the landlord never came around I just stayed. He was lonely. His wife had left him.”

“So did he have a girl?

Why that question? She was probing for something but what? The wine was beginning to have its effect and the conversation was getting more random but I sensed some method to Agnes questions nonetheless.

“He took up with an ex-hooker named Trish who wanted to change her life. She was from New York, and now about as far away as she could get from that life. We used to trade stories about New York. She hung around about half the time. She was a piece of work, really.

“Did you have a girl?”

Her face tried to betray nothing, yet there was something behind the question.

“Sometimes,” I dodged the question and avoided explaining several short term relationships — some of them one-night-stands. “When I got a job as a long-haul trucker, I wasn’t around for weeks at a time. If Trish was on the outs with Q she’d stay in the bus while I was away. It was awkward one time when my girl showed up while I was away and kicked Trish out. She told Trish I was due back the next day. I wasn’t. She just wanted some time in the woods. It was completely outfitted; stove, fridge, heat, the works. Trish was good with fabrics, sewed he own clothes and I had asked her to mend the heavy sweater I was wearing when I wrecked my motorcycle. Some of it was sticking out below my leather jacket and the pavement wore through it as I slid. I gave it to her but she just kept it and wore it all winter. I never got it back.

“You wrecked your motorcycle? The not funkey Honda? You’d had it all this time?”

“Yes, that’s the one I filled with gas from the oil drums during the embargo.”

“So you weren’t killed. I got that right,” she said with a chuckle.

“No but I was badly injured. I hit a deer on opening day of hunting season and killed it. October 10th. I was about to move the bus, like the next day but I ended up in the hospital. I called my friends to come get me. They grumbled that it broke up their poker game but they came. I knew I couldn’t stay overnight in the hospital. How would I pay for it? ”

“Oooh! How did you get to the hospital with the wreck out in the country?”

“It was a dark road. No moon. Some passers by saw the dim headlight on the side of the road and stopped. The battery was almost dead, I was able to stagger into their car and they took me to the hospital about 20 miles away. I never knew who they were.”

2 thoughts on “Chapter 13 The Bus

  1. Nice!

    Copy edit comments –

    Second paragraph – those short sentences should start with capitals. After the farm? You lived in the woods … trees?

    Missing closing quotes on several paragraphs.

    Possessive of Agnes is probably Agnes’ ; at least that is what I always use for proper nouns ending in s. It gets the job done without fancy flourish. One Web site notes Apostrophes for Names Ending in “S” This situation can get a little tricky, because there is actually no hard-and-fast rule about apostrophe use for nouns ending with “s.” Some people hold that only the apostrophe should be added, without the extra “s,” like in “Charles’ book.” Others say to add the “s,” so that it reads “Charles’s book.” Still others differentiate by the sound of the final letter, adding only the apostrophe if the letter makes a “z” sound — James’ or Lourdes’ — and using both the apostrophe and the “s” if the letter makes the “s” sound — Lucas’s or Agnes’s. A good rule of thumb is to pick one system or the other and to use it consistently throughout, and check with your teacher or supervisor to see which form is the preferred one.

    Hyphen in long-haul probably shouldn’t be there, I’d use long haul. There are no good rules on this, so I go by most common usage, and that reduces to using google on long-haul then long haul and see where I get most hits. Then, sometimes specific hits or contexts contravene my rule. E.g., real-time has been used with hyphen since I’ve been into computers, but Real Time with Bill Maher I would take to be correct also.

    There are style guides to help with all this. Might have to pay for one but an author should have one. Better yet would be a program that scans your document for style, e.g. AP Style Checking Tools. I have not found the MS Word grammar checker to help much, but then I haven’t used it in a long time, but then that’s because it was just getting in the way.

    Which Style Guide Is Best for You? The Associated Press Stylebook (AP style) The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago style) The MLA Handbook from the Modern Language Association of America (MLA style) The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA style)


    1. Tommy, thanks for the copy edit comments. WordPress doesn’t always pick up punctuation, particularly quotes when one pastes in large amounts of copy. I try to catch them when I’m posting but I miss stuff. I have several style guides and use whichever is required for the job at hand. Sometimes it’s the GPO, sometimes it’s Chicago. Generally if there’s no requirement I go with NYT. It seems to get the least push back. When I worked at Microsoft they required the use of their style guide which I and many other writers took great issue with. As in “Who the hell are you to rewrite the English language.” But it’s a losing battle as Word is what everybody uses nowadays.


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