Sunday, March 04, 2007

BUS STORY # 24 (Special Edition: Will’s Bus Story # 1)

A Vancouver TransLink city bus. Photo by Busboy.

Will lives in Vancouver, BC. Vancouver is some 1600 miles from Albuquerque, but Will’s story makes it clear it’s really just a bus stop away.

Saturday night I usually take the bus home after working all day in the record store. I'm tired, sometimes very much so if I've moved a lot of records. It's around 7 p.m. when I get to the stop, and usually a 10, 15 minute wait. Most nights I'm leaning against the wall. Weary as I may be, I'm always entertained by the weekend parade of spikey haired pierced ones, the muttering unwashed, and giggling young Asian students, oblivious to their environment, passing by.

So last Saturday night, the bus finally pulls up to the stop, and I climb up the steps to pay my fare. There's a reflective tape safety vest draped over the coin box. The driver shakes his head at me. "No fare tonight." All right by me. I go to my usual seat at the back.

A few stops later, the bus now half full of shoppers clutching their parcels and more giggling youngsters going out to dinner in the local Korean and Japanese restaurants near my home, a young man, obviously used to living on the street, gets in. No fare - OK with him, too. As he starts walking towards the back of the bus he catches the furtive, sidelong glances of his fellow riders. But rather than nod hello, or mumble a "Hi," he makes a noise like a chicken. "Buc buc buc buc buc," he says to each rider who makes eye contact. They quickly look away. They don't teach chicken in the ESL schools here. Well, he "buc bucs" his way back to me, my weary eyes resting perhaps a bit more gently on him than those of the less well versed riders, and looks me in the eye, smiles slyly, and says, "buc buc buc buc buc, crazy like a chicken, crazy like a chicken." He then plops down in his seat, settles his garbage bags of clothes, blankets and bottles, and falls asleep. Instantly.

We ride down the road, people get on and off, we turn the corner and go down a bit, when he pops his head up, pulls the cord, gathers his bags and walks to the door. As he gets off he says, "Thank you so much" to the driver. Then he's gone. To where, I wonder, has this sleepy, polite, crazy chicken gone to roost, to make a warm nest on a cold fall eve? May he escape the foxes should they come for him in the night.

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