Sunday, March 18, 2007

BUS STORY # 25, Part 2 (Indians And Dodo Brains)

Waiting for the Lomas bus. The Indian; the dad, standing on the curb, rocking back and forth, looking westward; the kid who finally lay down on the bench and pulled the Indian’s flannel shirt over him like a blanket; two women waiting several yards from the far end of the bench where they stopped abruptly and elected to stay about the time the dad leaned over the curb, pressed a finger against one nostril, and blew his nose into the street. And me.

“It’s coming,” the dad says. He goes back to the bench and rouses the boy. “Go give the man back his shirt,” he says. The kid gets up and takes the shirt over to the Indian.

“Thank you,” he says.

“That’ll be five bucks,” says the Indian as he takes the shirt.

“OK,” says the kid.

The Indian laughs. “Did you hear that? He said ‘OK.’” He laughs. The father picks up the two McDonalds sacks. “Here,” he says, handing them to the kid.

The Indian boards first. I let the father and son board ahead of me. I want to be as far from the croupy kid as possible. I let the women board ahead of me, too. The father and son are near the front of the bus. As I make my way to the back, I see the Indian has found a fellow Indian to share the ride with. I don’t catch a lot of detail, but the other guy has a baseball cap, shoulder-length hair, the same style glasses except the frames are black, and earphones.

I’m sitting close enough to hear most of the conversation. I’ve come in on the tail end of an explanation. The guy with the cane is explaining to the guy with the earphones how the cops confiscated his crutches. Both of them. He asked the cops why they couldn’t just keep one and give him the other to walk with. They needed them both as evidence, they told him. His friend responds with “THE COPS ARE NO GOOD!” A few riders look back, but most are experienced enough to keep their eyes to themselves.

My Indian turns out to be Navajo. His seatmate is a Puebloan, a San-something I can’t quite make out. They kid each other about whose women make better wives. It has to do with cooking. My attention wanders. Then I hear – we all hear -- “A MUSHROOM CLOUD OVER BAGHDAD!”

We’ve picked up a lot more passengers, and there is too much conversation and engine noise to hear the two Indians anymore except for the shouts of the Puebloan. The ride to Juan Tabo where the Navajo gets off is punctuated by intermittent shouts: “RAGHEADS! . . . FIGHT FOR OUR COUNTRY! . . . I’D SACRIFICE MY DAUGHTER! SHE’D GO . . . AMERICA!” Nobody looks back.

After the Puebloan is left by himself, the shouting is less frequent and the subject changes. “JOHN LENNON! . . . HE’S COOL!” I figure he’s listening to his headphones. “BUT NOT YOKO!” On the Tramway stretch that now cuts off my neighborhood, he returns to theme: “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL! . . . PEOPLE DYIN’ EVERY DAY FOR AMERICA!”

Incredibly, we all get off at the 7-11 – the Puebloan, the dad and his son, and me. The Indian strikes out ahead, arms extended. I wonder if he’s listening to Steve Miller and flying like an eagle. He cuts the corner to the north and I wait to see if he’s heading up Tramway or for the pedestrian bridge over Tramway before I decide how I’m going to cross the street. I prefer the bridge. Red lights are scant protection and the traffic is going at least 50. The Puebloan turns up toward the bridge. I wait at the intersection with the father and son.

The father pounds at the pedestrian crossing button. I can tell from the kid’s expression he knows only a dodo-brain doesn’t know this won’t make the light change any faster.

Halfway across the intersection, I look up and back at the bridge. The Indian has just begun the crossing. I can’t hear anything at all over the traffic.


Blogger Zou said...

I just stumbled across you using that random "next blog" button. (This is the first blog I've found that I could actually bear to read, believe it or not.) I like the bus theme running through your stories and the way it all interconnects. You write very well.

I've just got set up here, and I'm still trying to work out how this site ticks. It feels like a hotel with no lobby.

Anyway, I'm over in Room 638 and I thought I'd bang on the wall. I thought you might appreciate some feedback.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Wonderful comment.

I went over to Room 638 and let myself in. The visit made your compliment about my writing meaningful. Thank you. I'll be back again.

1:56 PM  

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