Word Play

Bus Stop Minute

It had been a very cold day. The sun collapsing into the plastered tangerine horizon only made the night all the more bitter. Bitter cold. Angry cold. The air hating the ground hating the people stuck in between both. My skin stung slap happy red from the frost and the wind and the rain. The itchy cloth on my numb body clung stiff to my bones. I stood slumping against the climate swaying slightly in between shoves from the damp sky waiting for the bus. I was waiting to go home. I stood there on the side walk hating myself and my world and everything my world contained. Everything was B-grade ugly and there was nothing I could do. The night was late and so was the bus. I was helpless to let time crawl forward. All I could do was fidget in between breaths of frozen smoke and glare at my fellow humanity. They were all around me. Shuffling and strutting. Wandering lost and striding with conviction. They all passed leaving me to my space of gum and oil pasted concrete.

I turned to flick my cigarette butt against the cinder blocks behind me when I saw her, this blonde now stranger that I surely never knew. She was lit up through the smudged window of the very same dinner I had sat in the night before. Last night I sat alone and this girl, this woman was not there.

Across from her sat a companion friend. Again, no one I now never knew. A woman with no visible face. She was as stunning at the very first glance as anything else mundanely beautiful I’d ever seen before. She sat unmoving hidden by electric cooper wire hair.

I stood there for a minute, myself also still and unmoving. Still as the two I was watching in this portrait framed by the window sill and painted by the lights from within. For a minute I watched and for a minute nothing moved; not the cars, not the people, not the rain, not the thoughts in my head or the stars in the sky. For a minute, nothing moved at all.

Then the red head began to move. Subtly she began to rotate the spoon around her coffee cup. Slowly churning title waves of muddy water and cream around her mug. The spoon methodically raced across the rim. I could hear it. I could hear the clinking, the scraping. Louder and louder like ten million semi trucks rubbing across a steel mesh sky, grinding deafening loud. This was the only noise in the world.

And then she stopped.

Silently they turned their heads toward me and smiled. Vicious smiles, not smiles you see, the kind on the inside. The worst kind. Smiles that you feel, the ones that shake your chest and brittle your bones.

I stood there in front of this distant picture for one minute exactly. I felt the seconds in my head. I could hear the bus slothfully dragging up the road. Squealing from behind me, whining to a stop like a wounded sow dropping to it’s knees, offering to take me away in its belly.

Everything was moving again. I paid my fee and entered leaving of my own free will.

———
(originally written circa 1994-2002)

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