Retreat

Jan. 22nd, 2010 03:24 pm
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[personal profile] thanksrainman
Previously

He’s never felt so lost before. The feeling of being completely cut off from resources which he’s become dependent upon is crushing, and completely new to Gus. For the first time in his life, he doesn’t know what his next move is, and that scares him. With two notable exceptions, he’s always had a “next move.” He’s always been able to stay one step ahead. Now, he’s five steps behind, and he’s panicking.

His first move is to get out of the car park. Quickly as he can manage (which isn’t very quickly at all, actually), he makes his way into the Greyhound station, and into the men’s room, struggling to keep hold of all of his papers and pills and envelopes. Locking himself into one of the stalls, he looks at the money Penelope had given him – really looks at it this time.

She’d thought this through.

Looking at the collection of bills – a sizable amount of small bills amongst a collection of mostly 50s and 20s – sheds a bit of light on the situation. She’s paying Gus off to keep his mouth shut. He wasn’t exactly inclined to go talking about the whole ordeal anyway, but a little incentive never hurt anybody.

He manages to pull about a hundred dollars from the envelope before wrestling it and his prescriptions into his jacket pockets. For a moment, he almost considers just ditching his discharge paperwork, but thinks better of it. He might actually need to know some of the information it contains, so he does his best at folding it up before wrestling that into his trouser pocket.

The actions take far longer than they should have. He knows what he wants to do, but his hands rebel; sharp, jerky movements that confuse and infuriate him. These are not his hands. They look the same, but they do not act the part.

Once he’s convinced that he’s not actually going to have another a panic attack, he makes his way back out to the ticket line. The next step is to get out of this backwater state and somewhere where the accent doesn’t make you sound like you have an IQ of 12.

At the counter, a grey-haired woman smiles warmly and asks, “Help you, darling?”

Gus looks up at the fare board, but can’t seem to make sense of it. “Yeah,” he says, giving up on the board on the basis that he’s just tired. At least, that’s what he tells himself. “Going to... uh...”

This is slightly worrying.

“Where’s the airport at?” he asks. The fact that he can’t remember is almost enough to send him back to panic mode.

“Portland?” the ticket woman supplies.

“Yes. That,” Gus says quickly. “Going there. Right now.”

She quickly punches something into her register, and then says, “That’s sixty-eight, forty.”

Nodding, Gus manages to count out $80 and sets it on the counter. “How long’s the trip?” he asks curiously.

“About seven hours,” the woman answers. “Is that gonna be all right?”

Gus is a bit shocked at this. “It’s gonna have to be,” he admits as she hands him his ticket and change.

“Next coach is in about two hours. From door six.”

Gus forces a smile and wanders off somewhere to wait.


After about two hours, and several stops, the coach driver announces that they’re coming to a meal stop, and that everyone is expected back on the coach in 30 minutes time. They park at a truck stop, and Gus wanders into a gift shop of sorts, finding a small book bag, which he buys, along with a sandwich. Back in the coach, he puts his few belongings into the bag, and tries to ignore the children three rows behind him.

The next “meal” stop is in Salem, and by then, it’s completely dark. And when the sun goes down in Central Oregon in spring, it gets cold, so Gus opts to just stay on the coach in the relative warmth.

By the time they finally enter the metro area, Gus is exhausted. When he gets off the coach, he realises he hasn’t the first idea where he’s at. He makes his way over to the ticket counter, where he’s greeted by someone who could have easily been the same woman at the counter in Bend. When she looks up at him, he asks quietly how to get to the airport.

“Probably just take the train,” she says. “The stop’s only a few blocks away in China Town. Just go down... Fifth? I think?”

She digs around, eventually finding a small street plan. “Yeah, on Everett. Head toward the river and catch the Red Line.”

Gus blinks. “What?” he asks. “How far away is that?” To make his point, he lightly taps his cane against the counter.

The woman just smiles and nods lightly. “I can call you a cab, if you want,” she offers.

Gus returns the smile. “That’d be great.”

He hangs around long enough for her to make the call, and inform him that the cab will pick him up out front. When the cab does pull up, Gus almost mistakes its black and white paint job for a police car, before realising it was just an unfortunate choice of colour scheme.

“Where to, buddy?” the driver asks as Gus climbs into the back seat.

Gus shakes his head slightly, trying to remember. For fuck’s sake, the woman just told him.

“Uh... Train station in China Town,” he comes up with.

“MAX?” the driver clarifies.

“I think so.”

It’s a five dollar fare, and the driver lets him out onto a curb, informing him that getting any closer to the stop would involve driving on the tracks. He points down the road, where a small shelter can be seen, indeed right next to several sets of tracks. At the stop, he finds a large ticket machine, that’s demanding $1.75 for him to get to the airport. The smallest bill he has is a $10 by this point, so he gives that to the machine, and is annoyed when his change is returned entirely in coins.

When the train arrives, he’s even more annoyed to find that it’s completely full up, standing room only, and his stop is the last one on the line. As he manages to pack into the car that’s full of students and hippies, he catches a glimpse at a crude map up above a window, and immediately wonders why he hadn’t just taken the cab all the way to the airport.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he mutters as he leans against one of the Perspex bicycle guards by the door.


The ticket desk at PDX is the most annoying ticket desk in the country. The airlines don’t sit in any order of any sort of sense, and the counter is about a half-mile long. Or, at least it seems that way when you’re tired and just want to get off your feet.

Gus picks United, since it’s closest to the door, and stands amongst everyone else just wanting to check in and get on with their lives. When he tells the man behind the counter that he would like to go to New York. Now. Please, the man just shakes his head.

“We don’t have anything direct,” he says. “You’ll have to stop a few times.”

“I don’t care,” Gus says, annoyed. “I don’t care about the price, I don’t care about the stops. I just want to get to New York, quick as you can? Think you can manage that?”

He’s entirely out of patience, and he knows the longer he stays in Oregon, the more his chances of getting caught increase.

“I can get you there via SeaTac—”

“I’ll take it,” Gus says simply.

“... With another stop in Chicago,” the man finishes.

“Whatever.”

Inhaling nervously, the man punches things into his computer and quotes a price of $230 to him.

“Next flight to Seattle is at 10:45,” he says, counting out the cash Gus hands him.

Gus looks up at the clock. That’s three hours away.


The flight to Seattle is little more than a puddle jumper; a small prop plane that seats maybe 40 people. It’s loud, cold, and takes just under an hour. And if PDX was confusing, SeaTac is even worse. The gate where the plane lands is on exactly the opposite end of the terminal from where his connecting flight to O’Hare is set to take off. Luckily, or unluckily as the case may be, the layover is another two hours.

By the time he even gets to Chicago, it’s seven in the morning. The next day. He’s been travelling for far too long by this point, and has another three hour wait until landing at LaGuardia. At least it’s not JFK. He’s close to Manhattan, which puts him close to... people that hopefully aren’t still mad at him.

And hopefully aren’t in prison.

By the time he does touch down in New York, he’s been on the go over 24 hours (including all the ridiculous waiting for everything to happen). He’s amazed he’s made it this far, and hails a cab, telling the driver to take him to the nearest hotel. He’s so tired, he doesn’t even look at what the room looks like when he gets in. Making sure the door is locked behind him, he turns out all the lights, and immediately passes out on the bed.
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thanksrainman: (Default)
Gus Dickinson

September 2010

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