sex, death, birth, growth, eating, life... all that stuff's real. the rest is magic.

Bound to wake up with my knees banging against my chin, curled safe against the rough blue seat in front and behind. The Sudafed rolls across my tongue in minute two; minute three and four finish off the last bottle of Gatorade. L'oreal concealer under each eye, hand steady and practiced over each bump and jostle. Stand. IBM laptop into the Eastpak, padded on either side by blue-yellow-red Mead notebooks containing hard copy of everything I've ever written worth reading. Champion hoodie over my head, wriggle, stretch, purse lips for no one. Stand up, sway with the physics, grab the bag and compensate for everything.

This node is bus.

I glance out the window to the left and, in the early sunrise, sketch a grid by eye over the living Kansas plane. I glance forward; passengers two and three rock side to side in heavy-coated half-sleep. Trace a path of diagonals, left and right but always forward, to the front of the bus. Turn and face the driver, a mound of American white and ruddy red in blue uniform.

"I need to get off now."

"We got about five hours, kid, and then you can get the best breakfast on this highway." A cracked, weary grin.

I spit blue Sudafed dye on the dashboard. "Already ate. Stop the bus." I hate being an asshole. I hate being a cliché far more. I hate hate HATE it. But I've been practicing for years.

The working class dream is angry. "You go sit down. SIDDOWN." I know he hasn't had a smoke in the last eight hours. I know the syringe rubber-banded to my left ankle is out of reach. I know that if I could get the needle throught his neck now, the node called bus would yaw and arc at a nifty fifty mph through the rail and down the embankment, nosedown-square A3-Grid Left.

Now I am a big baller. TEEN ANGST THUG removes his empty stainless steel Ruger P95 from under his hoodie and thumbs the safety. TEEN ANGST THUG twists the gun upwards, presses it against his right temple, two-guard-shaved hair rustling like wheat. TEEN ANGST THUG makes the saddest, roundest hazel eyes in the history of humankind. TEEN ANGST THUG is afraid and beautiful.

"Now I am getting off the bus." I am making ass of self! I am loving you long time! SHUT UP SHUT UP.

Driver needs reason badly! Driver is, however, about to stop. Pshshhshh. Passengers two and three wake and sleep again in seconds. "This is the middle of nowhere, kid. Where the hell do you think you're going?"

Off and down the embankment, across the amber waves, twelve or fifteen feet, to turn and wave the gun vaguely at the pudgy red face leaning out and above me. "IT'S FOR A SCHOOL PROJECT!" WHAT?!

I'm pretty glad that I didn't have to show him the bomb.

The syringe goes in the backpack, along with the gun, and the brand-name patch from the hoodie. The electric razor whines, and my dyed bangs fall between the notebooks; the razor is wedged underneath the orange bottles of prescription drugs. A tin of naptha is poured over the thick orange package - no metal or plastic is going to survive this one. Sorry, Farmer Brown. One more woe for the workingman; a faggot from back East just torched your field, the damndest damndest thing at 5:03 AM Naval Observatory time. The Rolex is new and the last to go in the bag.

Fuse payed out thirty feet, and lit. Beat it to the treeline. MOVE MOVE MOVE--

Another chunk of America's breadbasket is overcooked to cinders and fed to a hungry morning. This node is over.

Now I am hunched at a hill, on perimeter, out of the reach of the lights. A few buildings huddled together, a few dark shapes flitting in and out. Far too much laughter for the population I've estimated.

I haven't been a vegetarian for three days. I used its tailbone to cut apart the tiny carcass, and I ate it raw. How the hell can anyone go for eighteen years without doing that?

Down there, I know that there are most likely vegetarian meals that aren't just brown gack, and probably matches and bottled water and kerosene. There might be some forced geniality upon recognition, and certainly enough charity to support an unknown variable. I remain, rather, here on the edges in the dark. No need to crash. I just wanted to see for myself - I wanted to know that they put the thing together, and that it is taller and wider and deeper than me.

Well, moron, when you want to get somewhere in the worst way, that's the only way to get there. I wonder if you can go home?

This node is Everything, Kansas.