Between conversations regarding insubordination, The band Rancid and how the Union forces had retreated right here in Tupelpo, we found the bus station. It was tiny and nondiscript.I had seen larger stations in New York City and Atlanta. Tupelo’s only bus station was a fraction of the size of those. There were a few bedraggled loners sitting atop their suitcases, waiting for the hound to take them to the next hole in the wall town. The heat was getting to them too. An old man dabbed at his face gingerly with a small cloth. Any smart person would be carried a hankercheif around with them in this weather but we didn’t even have our belongings. As we entered the building we were met with a rush of cold air. A young unremarkable looking woman sitting by the coffee machine seemed to disapprove of us as we made our way to the ticket counter. More heads craned around to see the new attraction. I looked at each and every one of them in the eye. I pretended I was Clint Eastwood, the man with no name. I wished for a cigar and a .45. But I had nothing.
The lady behind the counter looked as though she had swallowed a pumpkin. She was heavy set with a wide neck that had endless layers to it. Her small eyes hid behind thick brown bangs.
“Can I help you.” She demanded.
“How’s it going? We uh, my friend and I are stuck here in town and need assistance getting home.” She gazed at me with those small eyes. There wasn’t a flicker of interest.
“Where is home?”
“Atlanta.” Nick responded.
She looked impatient.
“I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that. You will need to go down to the church and ask for help. You might be able to find someone there that can assist you.They run a soup kitchen every night at 6:30. That would be your best bet.”
“You don’t help people with bus tickets here.” I asked. That prompted a snort of sorts. It caught the attention of some of the people sitting around the lobby. Their dull eyes left the mounted television but only for a few seconds.
“We sell bus tickets ma’am. We are not a charity.” I had never been called ma’am before. I wasn’t yet eighteen.
“Do you know of any drop in centers in town that might be able to help us with bus tickets.” Nick asked.
“What is a drop in center?”
“It’s like a shelter but it provides free bus tickets for people who need them.”
“We ain’t got anything like that here.” She said with a finality to her voice.
“Let’s go.” I jabbed Nick in the arm and made my way to the bathroom.
“Thank you for you time.” He said swifty. The woman nodded and rolled her eyes.
‘I am going to clean up. Let’s try and find the soup kitchen. Maybe they can help us.” I said as I tugged at my boot laces.
“Do you think your parents can help?” Nick croaked, bringing the soda bottle to his mouth. The last of the Mountian Dew was but a few green beads trickling down the sides of the bottle. He threw it casually into a nearby garbage can.
‘They don’t have any money. If anything they might be able to scrap enough together to get me home but not you. I would go back to New Hampshire and you would be stuck. I am not about to leave you.” I rubbed him on the head and pushed the bathroom door open