Goose Michaels is my best friend; known him all my life. Don’t ask how he got the name Goose, but it’s not as obvious as it sounds and I don’t have the time to elaborate. Let’s just call him Goose.
He was raised on the farm behind ours. We worked fields together, skinny-dipped together, and shared everything. He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he wasn’t rusty either.
If not for him I wouldn’t have gone to Harvard. Yeah, you heard me right.
I did pretty good in school; top of my class and won a lot of scholastic awards. Learning came easy for me, things seemed to stick in my head that others forgot. Goose said he liked hanging around me cause it averaged out our IQs; see what I mean only Goose could have come up with that.
I’d been waiting for acceptance letters all spring. There was nothing from Harvard. I began to think I wasn’t as smart as thought.
Well as it turned out I got an acceptance letter from Rice, that was my Uncle Cal’s alma mater. Everybody said I got my brains from him, Daddy didn‘t like hearing that one. He was the only other one in the family to go to college, not counting cousin Wade who went to auto mechanic’s school and cousin Lucy who went to cosmetology school, but dropped out, said her brain locked up when they put curlers in her hair.
Goose drove me to the station the catch the southbound bus for Rice. We got there early.
We sat in his car a couple of spots from the bus depot.
“Why so early?” Goose said.
“Just in case we got stopped by a train or had a flat,” I said.
“Train comes three times a day,” Goose said. “You can set your watch to them. We wasn’t gonna get caught by no train. The tires are bald, but sill got some good rubber. You’re just nervous and anxious.”
“I’m being cautious,” I said.
“Why you lookin’ at yer watch all the time than?” Goose said.
“I like my watch,” I said. “It’s a graduation gift.”
“You can look at it all you want when yer on the bus,” Goose said. “Just admit it yer nervous.”
“I’m not nervous,” I insisted.
“Ya know they say if ya put yer mind on something else time goes faster,” Goose said. “That’s a fact.”
“Time is constant,” I said.
“I was in the barn last winter waiting for Bessie, our heifer, to birth. I waited all night long. It was the longest wait of my life. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. I stepped outside and took a leak. When I came in there was Bessie with her heifer. Sometime it’s good to have some sort of distraction. Makes time go faster.”
“So are you saying we should play cards or something?” I said.
“No,” Goose said, “But the way yer movin’ your legs back and forth yer either nervous or got to take a leak.”
“I just don’t want to miss the bus,” I said.
“So yer just being vigilant, right?” Goose said.
“That’s right.” I said.
“We can be just as vigilant from the diner across the street from the bus station,” Goose said. “I’ll buy ya a pie and glass of milk. That will calm yer nerves.”
“If I accept your offer do I have to accept your theory that I’m nervous?” I said.
“It’s yer show, ya call it yer way,” Goose said.
So we went to the diner and had the pie and milk. We sat in the booth next to the window. My eyes were glued to the bus station and all the while Goose was insisting I was nervous.
We walked back towards the car and I checked my watch. “The bus should have been here ten minutes ago. Let’s walk over to the station and see what’s up.”
We walked to the counter and said to the old man behind it, “When do you expect the bus going south?”
“It left five minutes ago,” he said.
“What!” I said.
“Yep,” he said. “Stopped, took a look, nobody got on, and took off, just like he always does.”
“When’s the next bus south?” I said.
“Tomorrow same time,” he said. “Try to be her on time.”
“What did it tell you,” Goose said. “You was distracted and time sped up so fast it done passed us by without a notice from us.”
“No,” I said. “A semi pulled in front of the diner and blocked our view. That’s when the bus came.”
The phone rang and the man behind the desk picked it up. “I think he’s right here in front of me ma’am. He missed the bus. Sure, I’ll put him on.”
The man handed the phone to me.
“I missed the bus, Mom,” I said.
“And it’s a good thing,” she said. “You got your letter from Harvard today. There was a terrible mix-up. Since you missed the bus to Rice I guess you’ll have to catch the next bus east.”
I said good-bye to Mom and asked the man,” When is the next bus east?”
“Thirty minutes,” he said.
Goose smiled and said, “A hamburger and coke can make it seem like fifteen.”