Songwriters: SIMON, PAUL / LAUZI, BRUNO
Let us be lovers we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner’s pies
And we walked off to look for America
Cathy I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
Michigan seems like a dream to me now
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America
Laughing on the bus playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said be careful his bowtie is really a camera
Toss me a cigarette I think there’s one in the raincoat
We smoked the last one an hour ago
So I looked at the scenery she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field
Cathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America
America by Bill White
“Cathy I’m lost, “Paul said, though he knew she was sleeping. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”
Sleeping people make the best confessors. It’s easy to be honest when the person to whom you are confessing is not listening. And Paul had been lost long before the greyhound bus merged into traffic on the New Jersey turnpike. Everyone on that bus was lost.
Paul and Cathy had hitched out of Saginaw, Michigan four days ago. Had they delayed their departure by even one day, they would be dead now. Not that their chances for survival were that good in their present circumstance. They had caught the last bus out of Pittsburgh, hoping that the Port Authority in New York City would still be operational. It wasn’t. The bus went straight through Manhattan to New Haven, Connecticut, where the driver bailed out and made a run for it.
Even though the station was deserted, Paul didn’t want to take his chances in Connecticut. “It’s funny,” he whispered to his fiancé, who was had just woken up, “that when people crossing an ocean finally see land, they think they have arrived somewhere, but when they cross land and arrive at the ocean, they feel that they have reached a dead end.”
“You got a cigarette?” she replied.
“No. I smoked the last one an hour ago.” Paul excused himself and walked to the front of the bus, got into the driver’s seat, and made an announcement over the PA. “This is New Haven, Connecticut. Our driver has left the bus and he is not coming back. I know a little about driving these rigs, so I’m going to take over. Any objections?”
“Where are we going?” somebody asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if there is any place left anymore where it would be safe to go. But if you want out, get out now, because I’m not stopping until I have to.”
A man in a gabardine suit looked out the window, surveying the area. It looked safe, but even if it was, it wouldn’t be safe for long. He, and the rest of the passengers, had decided to remain on the bus. As Paul reached for the cross-handle to close the doors, Cathy moved to the front seats on the right to be near him. “I think there are still a couple pies in my raincoat pocket,” he told her. “Why don’t you have something to eat? We are going to be on the road for a while yet.”
Cathy opened a pie and let her mind drift back to those last days in Saginaw. It seemed like a dream to her now. A very bad dream. She had been a nurse at Saint Mary’s of Michigan, where an antidote to the new strain of swine flu was being tested on some recovering alcoholics they had picked up at the Restoration Community Outreach. The antidote was effective, but had some complications. Unlike most vaccinations that give the receiver a mild case of the disease in order to prevent a full blown infection, this one subjected the person to the entire course of the disease, but it all happened so fast that recovery was 100% and immediate. It might seem barbaric, but the alternative was certain death.
But there were complications, and not just the discomfort of those feverish minutes through which the vaccinated person suffered the course of the disease. The complications had more serious consequences than that. The end of this cycle was death, and every person who got vaccinated died. Then they recovered.
After the success of the vaccine on healthy people, they started using it on sick people, who recovered completely within half an hour of the injection, The vaccines were then distributed to hospitals throughout the country, and the swine flu epidemic that had threatened to exterminate the population of North America was brought under control. But what had come it its place was a thousand times worse.
Paul didn’t want to risk driving through Hartford, let alone Boston, so he turned the bus around and backtracked to Milford, then drove West to Highway 15, which he followed until it intersected with 8, then headed North to what looked, on the highway map, like the closest thing to sanctuary,
“We should be able to reach the Osborndale State park in about an hour and a half,” Paul told the passengers over the PA. “Does anybody here know the area well enough to have an opinion on how safe the park might be?”
The man in the gabardine suit stood up. “You don’t want to go near there,” he warned.” Saint Michael’s cemetery is on those grounds.”
Cathy turned around in her seat and yelled back at him, “We don’t have anything to fear from cemeteries. It is the dead who never made it to the grave that we have to be afraid of.”
There was a great deal of chattering and mumbling among the passengers, who finally agreed that the Osborndale State park was as good a place as any to head for. Not that anyone thought of it as a final destination. Just that it might be safe for a while. Every person on that bus had been told all their lives that America was the best and the safest place on Earth to be and that they were lucky as hell to have been born here. Not too many, in their lives, had found the America that had been promised to them by their parents, in their schools, and on their televisions. Most of them, though, still believed it existed and were not about to stop looking for it, just because the damn place was now over-run with zombies.
The sun was beginning to set as the Greyhound bus entered the state park, and the moon rose over an open field.