Sunday, September 16, 2007

BUS STORY # 50 (The Bogeyman)


School is in session and the morning buses are crowded with students. Sitting in the back of the Yale bus, there are several of them, an older guy with a backwards driving cap and oversized shorts whose hems come to tattooed mid-calf, and me.

Sitting across from me is a small kid, short but not buzzed hair, no visible tattoos or piercings unless you count all the safety pins randomly placed in his sweatshirt and jeans. The sweatshirt is gray, hooded, and the front is hand-printed with “Hated By All.” The kid looks more like he could be loved by all.

The kids are talking school trash; the older guy and I are silent. We’re sitting at a red light when the safety-pin kid shouts, “That guy is a liar!” He’s pointing somewhere just a few inches past my left ear. I turn, expecting to see a campaign poster. Instead, I see the spray-painted hieroglyphics of gang writing on a wall.

“He’s a lying liar,” the kid repeats.

“Who?” asks the kid sitting next to him.

“Him.” Pointing. “The Bogeyman. He’s just trying to scare people, that’s all. But I ain’t scared of him.”

“He’s been in the pen, bro.”

“He’s a liar. I ain’t scared of no bogeyman.”

The conversation drifts away. At the next stop, the older guy gets up to leave. As he passes in front of the kid and me, he says, looking straight ahead, under his breath but loud enough for the kid and me to hear, “You been in the pen, you don’t need to advertise.” And he steps off the bus.

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