Joel closed his eyes and took a deep breath, released it with a cough. His fingers fumbled absently for a cigarette he didn't have.

Just another journey. His grandmother's voice, just before she died and landed him in foster care. Journeys had defined his life for the last decade. The memory seemed particularly apt tonight.

A bucket drum started up somewhere in the distance, and Joel's hands left their useless pursuit to beat a counter-rhythm on his thighs. He needed a bucket of his own. Or maybe a barrel. A steel one like the Jamaicans used on those white-sand beaches. And when he wasn't playing it, he could carry it upside down on a strap, all his worldly possessions inside, so that when the next journey arrived he'd be ready, wouldn't have to leave any of it behind.

There was nothing of fairness in the thought, but tonight he couldn't care. On a bus platform with only what he could fit in his back pack and barely enough cash in his pocket to buy a bus ticket to the next city, only bitterness surfaced. Bitterness and anger over the misplaced good intentions and the system that shuffled people around like so many pieces in a tetras game.

The bus rolled up, and as he climbed on board he looked over his shoulder at the only place he'd ever lived. If ever it had felt like home, that time had slipped so far into his past that he couldn't remember it. Happy 18th, He muttered. He pulled his bag off, and slouched into a seat near a window at the back of the bus, to stare at the night-shrouded landscape as it flew past him toward whatever came next.