On The Bus

(97 Delmar-McKnight)

Nov 2, 2005 at 4:00 am
Tuesday night again, already sinking. The 97 lumbers westbound up Delmar. The boredom is real. Even the lady quietly knitting heaves an empty sigh. She's folding inward, deflating, collapsing into her needles.

Bus lurches to a stop. Door swings open. Presto! Mr. Crazy-Hair! Every night for the past week I've ridden this bus, always at a different time. And every night he gets on at the stop just after mine.

Wordlessly, he shuffles down the aisle, trembling slightly, each step deliberate, brittle. He takes the seat in front of mine, carefully places his plastic bag beside him. Surprising that he sits so close: Usually lunatics avoid other lunatics. Or maybe he's not.

What's in the bag? Another universe, maybe -- one he carries around with him, just like our universe is carried around by someone on some other bus. Maybe his birth certificate, maybe his pet mouse, a tiny landlord, his lawyer. A Farmer's Almanac. Fourteen acres and a small pond. Next year's seasons.

There he sits, profile reflected in the window, looking like a dead poet. His face speaks of the eastern seaboard. "Who are you?" I wonder. "Why do you follow me? Do you have some wisdom to pass along? What's going on in there, behind that mug?"

He turns, gazes at me. I'm asking too many questions at once.