BUS STORY # 369 (Old Tex Bus Story # 3)
This is part of a series I call the Old Tex stories. You can read about Old Tex here, and you can read the first two stories here and here.
The last time I saw Old Tex, he was carrying an orange duffel bag. He sat down in his usual seat in the back and shoved the bag under the seat.
I moved up to the platform and sat across from him.
This is it, he told me. They’re shipping me out to California sometime this morning. They’d been working him up at the VA for some back problems, but when they did the MRI, they found things were worse than they thought.
He had some fractures in his vertebrae down at the bottom of his spine, but it was the top they were worried about. It’d started putting out runners, trying to find something to hold on to. What it needed to hold on to was his brainstem.
They didn’t have anybody here who could do the work, so they were shipping him to a VA in Los Angeles.
I knew he’d been in an accident some time in the past, and I asked if this was all from the accident.
It was. He’d been in a terrible wreck. They air-lifted him to El Paso. He thought he was gonna die. But he didn’t. They did an MRI there, too, but his head was too full of blood for them to see what the VA docs saw here.
When he recovered, he was sent back to the VA clinic in Alamogordo where he had a home. Doublewide, on five acres. First time he went inside after getting back, he found it stripped clean of everything he owned. He called the sheriff, but nothing ever came of it.
He followed this detour down another for a moment, explaining some kind of connection between Alamogordo and the notorious Operation Fast and Furious. I had a hard time understanding what he was saying. What I got out of it was the guns came through Alamogordo on their way to Columbus, on the border, and a sheriff there got busted for being involved in gun-running.
He ended up losing his home. He’d not been making any payments when he was in the hospital. But it wasn’t the bank who’d cleaned out his place.
The folks at the VA told him he was in for a long hard three, maybe four months. They were looking forward to seeing him back here when it was all over.
That was almost a year ago. I haven’t seen him since.
The photo at the top of this story is posted in accordance with the conditions of permission to repost from Flickr by the photographer, FormerWMDriver, namely that "the website watermark (www.flickr.com/formerwmdriver) is visible if available AND credit is given to FormerWMDriver for capturing this photo."