Sam knew something was wrong. It was the first time they had ever separated, but the reason for it seemed perfectly legit.
“Ok man, can you just go ahead and we’ll meet you there. We’ve gotta sort shit out with Donna.”
That was the last thing Gav told him at the bus station in Vancouver. The gig that night didn’t happen because it never would have. The next one was a fall through as well for reasons of some kind of confusion between Donna and the venue which turned out to have way less money and naturally Gav wasn’t going to go for that. They could have played anyways but Gav was in a mood. Donna suggesting busking didn’t help. Nothing like being stuck in a rainy night in a hotel where everyone pretends the others aren’t there.
The next show would have been some place called Steamers in Victoria. There was a local funk band called Three Sixty that was going to open.
Sam sat on the wooden bench inside the old bus station, looking stupidly through the houses in a real estate magazine. It was the only thing you could count on to be free.
There were payphones but he didn’t know if they were on the ferry or even on that last leg that goes through all the farms and small communities in the Saanich Peninsula.
All he could do is wait. He looked inside his pack of cigarettes. Not many, but he wasn’t too bad. He looked around but the place still had those ashtrays on the metal stands so he lit up and blew smoke towards the stained plaster roof.
Sam almost dropped the smoke as he looked up to see a man looking at him from behind the sliding glass window of the bus station’s office.
“Sorry, man…I thought,” he said pointing towards the ashtray. Some places were becoming non-smoking but then, why would the ashtray still be out?
“No, no you got a phone call buddy.”
Sam butted the dart out and went over to the glass window, the next of his guitar bag hanging over his bag on the end of the long bench.
He picked up the phone.
And got the news.
The band was over. Donna and Gav had just this huge fight. Like, huge. Like cops were involved. They hoped he could somehow get back to Perry Sound. After that Sam didn’t really take in what they were saying. He just felt faint.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I understand. No it’s ok.”
Sam gazed off into space while the man in the back occasionally looked at the young man with the mess of dark hair whose face had just gone pale.
He put the plastic black phone back on it’s cradle and nodded to the man with the striped white shirt and grey balding hair.
“You ok, there?”
“Oh, uh thanks,” Sam stammered “Yeah.”
Sam went back to his stuff and just sat there. He picked the cigarette out of the ashtray and struggled to find his lighter. Then it wouldn’t light.
Nothing. It was out. He tried shaking it. Sometimes that stuff works. It didn’t
“Here,” said the older guy holding out a pack of matches.
“Oh, thanks man!” he said quickly getting them and sitting back down again. He lit up and looked at the matches that said Empress Taxi.
He had some money but only just enough to get back to Ontario. That’s what he should do,, he thought. Back to the group home where he was staying. Back to that tiny room in late October with the frozen air coming off Superior. He looked at the board and the next bus back to the big station across from Science World was coming up. He would have to buy a ticket soon. From there he could get a bus to Winnipeg and from there he could get that same route they took months ago, just heading east.
He sat with his smoke and looked out the window where the bus that brought him here was still lurking under the canopy out of the light rain.
(Ps I must add, my band is fine lol)