Bold pigeons mix with bold voices and spilled drinks and ashed cigarettes while the dusty heat makes the ‘birds’ fly between drivers for the poorer and rich drivers who can take themselves.
On the bus you get to live the ambiance of third world America. A homeless father teaches his son to read while enjoying the A/C and the ride. Old women clutch bags of groceries and people packing their whole lives in suitcases with wheels board and leave in the chaos of undirected sound. The eyes of skinny kids flash quickly at the landscape moving through the windows and babies sleep in tattered laps and strollers used from the early nineties found at roadside thrift shops sporting wares being naturally cleansed from MRSA in hot bright UV light.
The bus is gone and you are late. 15 minutes more in the heat. Glad a bottle of water carried. Loud it is like spaceships taking off and cars. Plotting new courses to the stars and learning more and more what it means to be poor and still rich rich enough to write about the fight the heat the noise the breeze yes, all of these. The high rise where a friend once lived that looks over the bent chaos and hope you plot tomorrow well in late summer heat the people sweat but forked tails none are shown. I am alone: me and 800 people on my i-Phone.
Thinking I can steer the boat I call myself through tomorrow and remember I will not need a hearing aid. A crazy man barks out a laugh like hyena and a tall brown young man with a clear and serious face lifts my walker a little bit over the step and I say, “bless you.”
I saw my ethnicity spray painted on a dumpster and then laughed because I am not Irish or Cherokee but more like maybe Scottish fur trapper and Sioux and white and Jew and maybe even the sons of Ham (one or maybe two and say the same thing pretty much aren’t you?)
The kid had skulls embroidered on the drop at the next stop Spanish smooth flowed brothers signaled come and debarked they did and what some might have seen as gang and maybe were also doubled for a Latino youth ministerio or maybe that was just a name painted on a can but they loved each other.
A man got on and told the driver, “I got a gun I’m gonna kill you!” The driver said, “I got one too try me bro!”
“You think I can’t beat you down? I ran track in high-school!”
“So did I and I wrestled too so shut up and wait for your stop!”
“I’m gonna take all the money outta that…” The belligerent man with the weird high voice indicated the place where people dropped their quarters. The bus driver started to laugh, “Haw haaaawwwww it’s broken bro now just sit down and shut up!”
The bus driver stopped when the man said, “I have a gun I’m gonna shoot you.” He got off the bus and called someone but the man did not get off the bus he just looked at all of us but, somehow, none of us were scared. Maybe we were all too tired to be scared or maybe it was the way the man reminded us all so much of a big kid who never grew up. Maybe he was really a kid in his head playing games thinking we were on some long ago school yard and I think the bus driver felt it too because he got back on the bus and asked the child-man where his stop was.
Everyone there had cell phones. We all could have called the police when we all heard the word, “Gun.” and the driver could have kicked the man-boy off the bus and lots of things could have happened but, somehow, it became clear the man was not armed and not living in reality so the driver just kept up a patter of bullshit that fell softly on the the rubber mats and pitched a deep rumble of an exchange of father and child and the man got off the bus still talking tall tales about beating up some unknown and unseen enemy.
By the time I made it home (right now) it was five hours on the road for five minutes of knowledge but, now that I look at what I have written, maybe it WAS five hours of knowledge!