“I’m getting my gun,” she said. The bus idled in the dark. “Excuse me?” said the man sitting next to her. The voices were clear over the muffled hum of the engine.
“When I get home I’m getting my gun.” Her shirt was a rainbow of horizontal stripes. It hung from her body. A colorless beanie was pulled low on her head. Her eyes were sunglasses lenses. The big brown circles went up her forehead over the beanie’s edge and down over her cheeks. “I’m getting my gun and my brothers. We are going to ride,” she said.
The man next to her put an arm around his infant son. The man’s eyes were round and his black goatee glinted in the bluish lights of the bus. His facial hair scraggled like two inches of mangled velcro. “I don’t think this has anything to do with me,” he said. “You are disrespecting me and my one-year-old son.”
“I’m an American,” said the woman. “I remember nine-eleven.”
The man’s voice got louder. “You need to stop disrespecting me and my son. I’m a black American.”
“I know what you are,” she said. “And I know what Americans are. When I get home I’m getting my gun.”
“Bus driver!” yelled the man.
“I can’t hear you!” we all heard back from the bus driver. Heads bounced back as the bus pulled forward.
The woman stood up and moved to another seat. She flopped in the one already pressing on my knees.
We all moved through the night. The bus headlights caught a sign in the dark. “Big Horn County” shone in white letters across reflective green.
Many of us had started off in Washington. We had rolled together through Idaho, and waited together in a bus station somewhere in Montana at midnight. That town had consisted of a McDonalds and an empty motel that said “No Vacancy.”
We had waited for the bus we were on, and we were all moving again. In another six hours, we would be in Wyoming. One bus after another had rumbled along for a long time before we got to this place.
Somewhere outside the window, general Custer and 267 of his men had died. They became war heroes in old history books. We rolled past that spot in the dark.
I was born in the midwest and it felt like I grew up there. We moved near Seattle and I grew up more. I thought I found “The Woman I’d Spend My Life With” a couple of years ago. Then my life exploded one day. After that, I got on a bus. These things happened, and made me think about America.