It pulls out of Fort Ord, Monterey Bay, exactly at 8:15 am. You’d better be early!
They get on, ones and twos. For the most part they are on the backside of their lives.
There is not much talk or banter for this is serious stuff, a trip to VA Palo Alto.
Yes, that’s right. This is the VA Bus, sometimes called the “Bus to Nowhere.”
Guys and ladies come in with patches over their eyes, crutches, and heads that have come face to face with an exploding bomb, and, of course, lost.
The bus pulls into Santa Cruz. Christ, look at all the traffic!
More pile onto the bus. Some sure don’t look like vets to me!
Look at that guy with his skateboard.
And what about that dude with his duffle bag packed with his meager life’s possessions.
Yeah, Santa Cruz always did have its own bizarre set of rules.
The bus, by now packed, pulls into San Jose, its last pickup.
Nothing extraordinary except one poor bastard is too late getting back.
His twisted visage grimaces and howls in the rearview mirror.
Eventually, the bus pulls into VA Palo Alto and disgorges its cargo of battered, smashed, and damaged human beings.
It truly is a scene from Kafka, as gurneys haul more victims in, as a wheelchair convoy bedecked with American flags rumbles out.
Out on the pavilion already sick warriors hasten their demise by smoking like Gary, Indiana, during its heyday as a steel town.
Why do they do that? A sense of fatalism, I suppose!
Inside I spy on the wall the VA Chain of Command. Three pictures portrayed.
The first two show that Wizard of Midland, Texas, and Mr. Halliburton himself!
These two never served a day of soldierly service.
With a false smile, they seem to say: “Screw you, sucker, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”
What wounding mockery and treachery this represents!
It is just infuriating for all those noble souls to see these two artful dodgers gloating over them.
At exactly 2:00 pm the process reverses itself as the bus pulls out for the return.
All is the same, except we now have a new passenger who announces his presence by clanging his metal leg on every step as he climbs aboard.
As the bus creeps over Highway 17, the sun starts to set over the Pacific.
This sinking golden globe places an embrace to form a halo of love and respect around our bus and its hallowed contents.
You know, come to think of it, this isn’t the VA Bus to Nowhere.
Hell, no! This is America’s Bus!!