Sunday, December 14, 2008

BUS STORY # 111 (Hit-And-Run)

I’m standing behind him in the shade cast by the shelter, reading. I really don’t notice him or the woman until he turns to her and starts telling her his story. No preamble, no opening gambit, certainly no invitation. He just turns and starts talking.

He’s a tall, trim guy with red, Lyle Lovett hair and a neat goatee. He’s wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans.

She’s a substantial woman in a yellow blouse and an orange, patterned, full skirt, and when he turns to tell her his story, her face and body language make it perfectly clear she’s not interested in hearing it. This does not deter him.

He explains he was on Broadway, waiting for the bus. He was standing at the edge of the curb watching the bus heading for his stop.

There was a large panel truck in front of the bus. He saw almost too late the large, extended side view mirror on the passenger side, the curb side, of the truck.

He raised his left arm reflexively. The mirror hit his arm full force. It threw him forward and spun him around at the same time, so that he pitched into the side of the truck, bounced off, fell the length of the sidewalk, and rolled into the street.

I notice the woman has changed her demeanor. Earlier, I thought she was getting ready to get up and leave. Now, she’s turned toward him a bit and is listening up.

He heard the squeal of brakes and saw the bus shudder to a stop in front of him. He was dazed, but able to get up. That’s when he realized the truck had hit him and had kept on going. He was feeling too angry to feel any pain. That would come later.

He stepped back on the sidewalk, went to the front door of the bus, and climbed aboard. When he reached the fare box, he asked the driver did he see what just happened? Before the bus driver answered, a rider in the front seat asked him a question.

Before he tells the woman (and the rest of us listening) what this rider asked him, his hands go to a small, silver cross he’s wearing on a silver chain around his neck. He extends the cross toward the woman, as far as the chain allows. Then, in a voice cranked with withering outrage, he tells us what the rider asked him:

“How much for the cross, bro?”


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