Day 15 Part Three (the last of the bus journey)
I didn’t know we were going to Six Flags Over Georgia. I’d actually never heard of “Six Flags.” Like…who would guess that’s a name for an amusement park?? And who would guess we’d get such a treat on our limited budget? But as it turned out, my college friend had just been hired to work there. Her mother was smart (and classy) enough not to get stuck alone all evening with two teenage strangers, and she bought our way into the park. Embarrassing, looking back, but she was gracious and never mentioned a fee.
It was dusk til midnight, and my brother and I were thrilled over our good fortune! After perusing the park and riding a few things, we decided waiting an extra- long time to be seated in FRONT of the roller coaster was a good idea. Not. Within seconds of rising to the bright lights at the top of the track, we were pelted with flying bugs slamming into our heads. We did our best to turn away and to close our mouths at the high speed, but the ride became unbearable. And long. When we finally climbed off and helped each other remove juicy insect carcasses from each other’s faces, we were pretty grossed out.
Can cockroaches fly?
Done with rides for a while, we sat on the short wall of a fountain so we could regroup. It wasn’t long before we recognized that a tantalizing smell coming from nearby concessions was consuming our thoughts. We’d thought it best to leave our live-or-die cash in our duffel bags back at my friend’s house, so we had virtually nothing on us to purchase food. Dumb, I know; mental clarity was not our strength at this point in life. But hey! Look at those dummies who throw coins in fountains and make wishes. It wasn’t all that deep, either. To be honest (pun intended), we felt guilty, yes. For taking anonymous people’s discarded nickels and dimes. Well, my brother was the lookout. I did the taking.
So we scraped up enough (literally) to purchase a large order of fries. We stood in line noticing that summer nights in Atlanta seemed to draw a rowdy crowd, and watched their criminal activity with our own crime fresh on our minds. Suddenly, four cooks came bursting out of the kitchen, screaming, “Cockroaches, ewww!” One of ’em even hollered, “Can cockroaches fly?” Hmmm…I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that one. So…not a good sign when you’re about to eat food from a kitchen that scares the cooks. But hunger is a powerful motivator, and we stood right there among a crowd of what could only be described as gangsters, sharing those french fries like we hadn’t eaten in ages. About that time my brother set a package of ketchup on the ground and said, “Hey, watch this!” He stepped down on the package and immediately, about 10 feet away, a teen wearing white pants lifted his leg and yelled, “What the _____?!” Bright red ketchup was dripping from his pant leg.
I looked back at Wade. He was nowhere. Vanished, gone. Knowing I couldn’t possibly run off without implicating myself, I carefully slid my foot over the top of the exploded ketchup package and stood there looking like an idiot. The young man’s friends all checked out his pants and offered sympathy, looking curiously within the perimeter of their circle. They never suspected something could come flying at them from ten feet away. When I deemed myself safe, I went hunting for my brother. Not an easy task, mind you, among the acres.
I love my brother. We’ve been through a lot together. At ages fifteen and nineteen, who knew where we’d end up in time? Who knew where our lives would take us, and which wars and contentions and inventions and politics would change the entire globe?
Well, to end the story of our bus trip, we traveled on back through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, Texas, Texas. And Texas. We saw things and heard things we thought we’d never see and hear. I fell asleep once on a stranger’s shoulder. That was awkward. Wade’s presence was a calming one. We have a companionship and “Connectedness” that has carried us through decades together. I’m just me and he’s just him. Doesn’t it feel great when that’s all it takes for a relationship to work?