Greyhound Station, Downtown

Hee-Haw to Tulsa

Mar 5, 2008 at 4:00 am
There's a six-hour layover for the Tulsa-bound bus. Clearly boredom's stranglehold has wrung these sorry travelers into bleary semi-asphyxiation. Three Hispanic toddlers run around the benches while their portly mother rests her head in her tragic hands. A young black guy bobs, mumbles a tune, sighs, takes a meandering stroll around the station. I make eye contact with a white-haired gentleman whose expression sags grimly. He looks at me like this is my fault.

On the greasy floor, a man is playing cards with an androgynous-looking woman. The man, who's older, glances around sheepishly before retrieving a bottle from an inside coat pocket. Tugging his collar over his leathery face, he takes a quick pull. His name is Poppy. Poppy looks like an October weed.

Later, with her eyes rolling drunkenly back into her head, his traveling companion tells me she and Poppy are on a hee-haw.

"What's hee-haw mean?"

"To have a good time," she says. "It's hick talk."

They'd already been up the road to a bar, where even the multitude of shots purchased for her by beneficent strangers couldn't stop her from getting into a fight. Almost. And I'm easy to get along with, she says incredulously. Her brothers taught her how to fight, in Tulsa. Hee-haw. She kicks Poppy in the ass. They go out for a smoke.

The black guy wanders back in, says, "Man, this place smells like a bar. That guy's stinkin' the place up. And it's the cheap stuff, too. Man." He sighs, takes another stroll.

All the while, two tiny birds flit from the high ceiling to the drinking fountain and back.