How to Ride the Bus (600)
I reasoned and I decided to take a bus to the library.
I waited next to a very old man who was much shorter than I, stooped in posture and frail in his face. His coat was old, faded and worn-through yet his old eyes wilted with interminable joy.
A woman spilled her purse and before a thought the old man was hands and knees in the sidewalk gathering her things. People kept walking into him knocking him over. ‘Watch out you old fool!’ they said.
I thought I too should help and leaning over I noticed the man to my left place his shoe on top of a twenty dollar bill sliding it beneath him. I handed the woman her belongings and said nothing.
This man was much taller and thicker than myself, barrel chested in a very tight Armani Exchange shirt with two massive limbs of meat burgeoning from his shoulders. He didn’t have a neck, just very big shoulders and a head that looked like a pea on top of a potato. He had a protein shake and a very expensive watch despite the very expensive smart phone he had clipped to his belt.
A homeless man was asking if anyone could spare a dollar.
‘I would love to help,’ said the old man, ‘but I haven’t money either.’
‘You know it costs two dollars to take the bus, right?’ said the woman.
‘Why no, I didn’t. Thank you.’
‘Can you spare a dollar, sir?’ asked the homeless man.
‘Sorry, I don’t have any dollars on me.’ I intentionally don’t carry dollars on me because I can’t stand lying.
‘Can you, sir? Please spare a dollar.’
‘How many times do I have to tell you I want you to stop talking to me!’ His shoulders and arms seemed to rise as he spoke and the homeless man hurried away.
‘Here,’ said the woman. ‘They won’t let you on without it.’
‘Oh, no, I couldn’t take that,’ said the old man.
‘Please? I insist.’
‘No really, I’m not at liberty to.’
The woman relented pocketing the two dollars. ‘Where is it you want to go?’
‘I can’t decide,’ he smiled.
‘No wonder the old man got nowhere with his life – worthless,’ muttered the man wearing cologne to the gym. A bus arrived and we were surprised to see it, none of us had seen it coming.
‘This is it,’ said the old man.
‘Where’s it going?’ asked the woman.
‘I don’t know yet.’
Perhaps this was my delusions but it seemed the old man pulled his face off and his clothes and skin slid from his body like a cheap costume and from this emerged a small child plush and chubby, innocent and delightful with straw curls and rosy cheeks and this nude babe, who though a small child was every bit controlled and stoic in motion as any man, glided onto the bus, his nimble feet not once touching the ground. The bus pulled out and in every window I saw the man’s face, his big wondrous eyes and gentle, curious smile.
‘He’ll never get where he wants to go,’ said the big man to my left. He boarded the next bus. ‘I wanna to go t’ Graceland,’ he yelled at the driver. ‘Take me to Graceland!’
‘Yeah, sure thing, whatever you want, right. Two dollars.’
The sign on the bus read ‘Main St/ Bexley’ and as it pulled out I looked through all the windows and couldn’t find the big man anywhere, and maybe this was still my delusions but there was a small, feeble jackal sitting in the back.
The next bus arrived. Its sign read ‘Liber’ and it dropped me off right in front of the library.