Time Dilation Case Study: Central America

Jason Braun

If you bought a bus ticket to Flores
yesterday, then it does not equal
100 USD today. The man
who sold it to you asks to see the ticket,
smiles, and then asks again.
You think about traveler's checks,
passports, the CIA website stats,
and the number of heads cut off between
Guatemala and here. The ticket,
he asks, and you wonder, did I interrupt
something between him and this ticket?
If Nikola Tesla can fall in love with a pigeon,
then this guy, who knows? Minutes before
the bus should depart, he returns the ticket
defaced. Alta Vista Bus Tour
has been crossed out and El Mundo Maya
inked over the top. Your bus isn't coming,
and he smiles as an explanation.
He points to a young woman who takes us
to another bus station. Three hours later
an extended minivan pulls up to thirty-five gringos.
You are the last to board and ride shotgun,
the driver's new co-pilot, he eyes you wildly.
You will wait for yet another
half-hour before this bus moves through
Belize City. The Hopi have no word
for simultaneous, but in Belize they speak
English, Jamaican, and Spanish all
at the same time. You get to Flores
slowly, you buy a hand-carved tortuga
because you like the word, and the world
is turtles all the way down.

And the alternate ending haunts:
there's another you, who played
by the AAA rules, didn't give
your ticket to Mr. Shady, and still curbside,
head nodding to the reggae, talking to pigeons
that may or may not have arrived on time.


About the Author

Jason Braun currently teaches English and is the Associate Editor of Sou'wester at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He has published fiction, poetry, reported or been featured in Prime Number, ESPN.com, The Evergreen Review, SOFTBLOW, The Nashville City Paper, Jane Freidman's blog, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lowestoft Chronicle, and many more. He also makes apps such as Paradise Lost Office and Homophonecheck.com, and releases music as Jason and the Beast.