Este texto fue originalmente escrito en ingles para la revista And Then del brother Robert Roth. Acaba de salir en el volumen 19 hace unos dias. El brother Robert Roth ha leido sus primeras lineas en quechua en un recital acerca de nuestras conversas cerca del flea market. Flat tire fue leido hace unos dias en la conferencia
trasatlantica de City College, y publicado anteriormente en version espanol del autor como “Llanta baja”.
For Robert Roth
Just yesterday I was talking about Ithaca and went to Newark to balance them tires, so I might as well tell about a short trip to the Finger Lakes.
I usually drive down memory lane through a beautiful stretch of Route 17, between Liberty and Binghamton, thinking the next chapter of my unfinished novel is going to take place here. I used to stop in a God-forgotten dinner next to a small stream that has since been out of sight thanks to a new highway.
But this time it was Greyhound. The Port Authority catacombs and I 80, I 380, and I 81 before going back to Route 17 and lining up for a terrible display of concrete poetry.
It was long since a trip back home when the diver stopped in a dinner, played “qansi pirdichiwanki chofer kakunayta” in an out of tune guitar, and the passengers started playing carnival throwing water and white powder to each other. Possibly some got lucky, just when the driver would ask everybody to sing so he did no fall asleep.
Now everybody was quiet, lost in his or her thoughts. An older guy sat next to me and we greeted with a shy salute. Somehow I remembered John Sayles in Central Park reading about a bunch of women taking a bus to visit their husbands in jail. Reading as a portorican woman, the brother from Seacaucus managed to tell a few poignant stories.
By the time he finished the last one we had passed the Delaware Water Gap. A few miles up I 380 takes you to Scranton. We took the exit and then heard a small explosion: a flat tire. The bus pulled to the right and the driver got out.
Then I saw the most unbelievable behavior a driver could possible have in front of a disabled vehicle: he did nothing.
How strange and irrational.
I did not know which was worst. Just hanging out there, or that time when we put a drunker driver’s truck back on the road, only for him to take off and leave us walking for hours into the night and the next town.
Normally the driver would try to fix the tire, the engine or whatever, and the passengers would help, even push the bus over a landslide, talking a mile a minute all at once. How decisions are made then is a compete mystery.
The passengers started getting out slowly to smoke a cigarette and take a stretch. Everyone lined up standing alongside the bus, looking at nowhere, hardly talking to each other, qansi pirdichiwanki allin kakunayta, as if we all were waiting not even for Godot.
Back then they were no cell phones that allowed you to hide from yourself in moments of unexpected silence and open space.
Finally a big truck came and fixed the flat. Everybody got to the bus and we were off to Binghamton.
But we already were going nowhere.
I am sure the bus station in Binghamton is where Rod Serling got the inspiration for The Twilight Zone.
But that is another story.