Ottoman Express

December 27, 1993|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans. -- Here is another tale from the unending pool of grief & bitter hilarity known as the Greyhound Company.

For those of my readers unfamiliar with the evil Transportation Megamoth of North America, I will only say that the Greyhound Company is like the Ottoman Empire in its last days: unfocused, disorganized, foul-smelling and bureaucratically rude. The Ottoman Empire eventually relinquished its hold on the unfortunates of the earth. One day, Greyhound will too.

There I was, miraculously seated -- not a frequent occurrence -- and the bus was about to pull out of Baton Rouge nearly on time. I could hardly believe it and I soon had reason to be right.

As the coach lurched backward there was a rap-rap on the door and a frantic citizen in hair curlers and slippers demanded attention. ''My family's going to a funeral!'' she cried, ''Wait for them to buy their tickets.'' The bus driver, an obliging fellow, waited.

Ten minutes later the funeral party boarded the Dawg, led by an exceedingly large human with a child folded under each arm. The driver suggested to this person that she might layer her brood on two seats to the back since in front all the rows had at least one person in them. The funeral-goer refused and plopped her flesh and the flesh of her flesh next or rather on a Dutch tourist girl who disappeared completely.

''Madam,'' the bus driver insisted, ''you must move so as not to DTC give our country a reputation for rudeness in Dutchland!''

''I'm going to a funeral!'' shrieked the blob.

''So are we!'' shouted several people on the bus. Half the riders, it turned out, were going to funerals; it was a typical Greyhound crowd. The other half were going to mental hospitals.

To make a long story short, the funeral party abandoned the bus and staged a crying period of mourning in front of it. The honor of our country was upheld in front of the Dutch. We were one hour late. Nobody got to their funerals. But the mental hospitals were still open and they gave me pen and paper to write this.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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