Saturday, March 14, 2009


BUS STORY # 124 (Portrait # 2: Monk)


He’s sitting on the bench facing the aisle, behind the first exit door. Older black man, tall, lean, white hair cut close, a cylindrical tuft of white beard underneath his chin that reminds me of an old-fashioned shaving brush except the bristles are curly instead of straight.

I’ve seen him in the mornings and in the evenings. I’ve seen him both coming and going on the same day. That’s how I know he changes clothes at work. Coming home, he’s got on grimy construction work clothes. But in the mornings, it’s a different story.

This morning, he’s wearing sleek, white-framed sunglasses, and a hooded sweatshirt. The sweatshirt is sage gray, and he’s got the hood cowled around his neck. He keeps those sunglasses looking straight ahead, and the rest of his face looks peacefully detached from all the bus commotion. He keeps his hands spread out across his thighs, palms down. They’re large, long hands, with long fingers.

He looks like a very cool monk. Maybe even a Thelonious.

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