He was sitting at the bus stop in the hot sun. In the summer the heat here rivals the heat in Dubai, on certain days, but it is not dry heat it is wet heat. It is the kind of heat that sweat cannot cool. People die in this heat. You could go naked in this heat and still feel as if you wore an ankle-length fur coat in the deep, searing sun.
The bus stop was just a metal bench. In order to sit upon it you had to be wearing pants because the heavy metal would burn bare skin. The winds of March had settled into the heavy breathing of high summer and even the shade was too hot. There was an Ozone Alert, a Pollen Alert, and a UV Alert as well and people with breathing problems died from car exhaust that would not rise from the hot concrete roads that crossed the land like grey wrinkles on an aging mother.
I looked at the bottle of water in my sweaty hand. Thin, biodegradable plastic that probably gave me a good dose of unwanted estrogen with every swig. Maybe that was why no one went through menopause until they were well over 60 these days? Maybe that was why so many boys were being born ‘feminized’ now?
He was sitting at the bus stop in the scorching heat and cataract-producing light. It might be 15 minutes before the next bus came in it’s scheduled time. I walked up to the bench and was glad for the long skirt. It was too hot for clothes but is was WAY TO HOT for none at all. I was glad the skirt was made from cotton. Had it been made from nylon it might have, perhaps, melted to the metal and left me with a bare ass but, like most imaginings, such things did not occur.
He was looking at the ground between his feet where red fire ants went about their tasks as if the two giants above them had no meaning or existence. Sweat dripped from his face and rolled down his neck soaking the collar of his shirt. He looked to be of an age with me. A little grey here and there scattered in dark hair that was going a bit thin on top but still quite handsome in a wizardly sort of way. He did not seems to be aware of the beard on his face being too hot…but heat in my state is so hot it hardly matters whether or not you shave your face. He sneezed.
“Yar h’mouk Allah…Salaam ‘alaikum”,
I handed him a tissue from my purse. I keep them because everyone is sneezing and miserable these days. People even talk about a huge government experiment to inoculate us all via exposure to something through chem-trails. If it’s true they probably think they are doing a public service but I try not to think about all those things. It gives me a big headache. I chucked my TV. in 2003!
He took the tissue and held it to his nose and I gave him another…sweat everywhere….I sneezed.
He was smiling at the ground now. He had an accent I could not place yet. Usually I was good at that sort of thing. I don’t really know Arabic well enough to answer back with the right pronunciation so I was embarrassed…
“What’s your name?”
“Sam. What is your name?”
“Mary….look the bus is finally here!”
The city bus pulled up to the stop and let people debark and the doors opened to let others embark. Some women came running up to the stop from the apartment complex behind us. Maybe in their thirties they were all lovely and athletic looking. Short-shorts, halter tops and flip-flop sandals seems to be the order of the day. I looked at myself in shame, I looked at them. They were golden compared to me. They were not disabled. They did not have to walk with sticks or walkers. Golden glowing and so sure of themselves. One looked at me too as scorn, briefly and impersonally, crossed her face she boarded the air-conditioned bus. The gust of cold air, from the open doors, was heavenly!
“You are American?”,
“Yes, I am.”
“Can you manage the step?”
“No I use the ramp.”
“OK we will both use the ramp.”
I had been watching him. He did not even bother to look at the women who had boarded ahead of us! He looked at me and smiled and raised one pant leg an inch or two…
He stood up and if you didn’t know you would never know he was not ‘perfect’. I got my walker. He said.
“You really are beautiful. If you did not have that walker I might think you were perfect. I could tell you were American by the way you looked at those women. Let me tell you something…
…You are every bit as good as they are…maybe better?”,
I looked at him rather astonished!
WE went up the ramp together and sat together in the ‘disabled’ section of the bus. The cold air was awesome! He said.
“Lets go get a cup of coffee!”.