We crossed into the US at 6am after leaving Regina at 11pm. When it became light, and after I woke for the second time today, I saw outside the bus white everywhere; a flat spectral expanse of grey hues, where sky and earth are distinguished by a continuous belt of naked, chestnut-brown trees. On days such as these, one tends to wonder — what would be the harm in dying asphalt green? As I scan my surroundings, the only things of colour I see are a pack of mint Polos, and a bottle of yellow cough syrup. Even Steve’s cribbage board melts into the beige decor of the bus; the board itself is a novelty tan canoe with black and white bunting.
When we arrived at the Minneapolis hotel, our rooms were ready and in a flash I found myself staring at the internet, yet another bleak landscape; I really must get out more.
In other news, I’ve begun revisiting a novel which I’m trying to complete before I turn one million years old. In fact for the moment I’m giving up on the project as a novel per se, and instead splitting it into novellas. If you were ever interested, you can find the first few chapters here.
To kill some time I went shopping. Minneapolis has what they call a Skyway System. In principle it’s like the PATH in Toronto; a means for people to get out and about avoiding the cold of winter months. To me the Skyway is a labyrinth of connections, sealed bridges linking buildings such that one may never need to go outside to walk miles. I stopped for a bite to eat in a sort of piazza, the Crystal Court (not to be confused with The Crystal Maze) whose glass roof is stepped from three to six storeys in height. The Stars & Stripes hangs over the inner dominion, and above, a shower of human-made rain falls from a circular fixture to a font below.
The rules are the rules in the Crystal Court: “All guests are expected to be law-abiding and conform to state and city laws. Any behaviour that affects the safety and comfort of others is not permitted.”
So three guys appear, dressed up like the Beastie Boys in their Japanese construction worker getups, bustin’ out some poses for a cameraman. After a minute of quiet work, they were moved on by a security guard. I wonder which laws they were breaking, and whose safety and comfort they were affecting. Not mine, I like a bit of entertainment with a sandwich. Having said that, I suppose a smile or a laugh is in its own way, some sort of affectation — in the midst of a war on Terror, any emotion other than fear can be bad for business.
Visiting among other places, a book shop, I was tempted by classics such as Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and lastly, Dian Hanson’s [ed] The Little Book of Big Breasts. When I was discovered leafing through the latter by an inquisitive staff member I quickly shuffled away; the last thing I saw snapping the book shut was a beaver shot. Feeling loath to exit the shop empty-handed, a beautiful paperback caught my eye, Huxley’s Brave New World. I made sure my choice was noticed by the little woman who saw me as a pervert. She must have thought I was just making excuses and after paying for my legitimate purchase I was collared out the door by an eight-foot guard whose hands weighed as much as my legs. I must apologise to anyone in Minneapolis who heard the shouts, ‘Wait, I’m not a sexpest, honestly — I just really like big breasts!’
As for the Skyway System: just like my experiences in Toronto’s PATH, it took me 30 minutes to find the hotel, which, had I chosen the surface route, would have taken me five.
We shall leave Minneapolis at 2am and drive to Chicago. Apparently we’re going to be in a bit of a holding pattern in the morning, parking at a mall until such time that our rooms might be ready. I wonder if it’ll have a book shop…