Sunday, October 25, 2009

BUS STORY # 156 (An Unkind Cut)

He looks 10, maybe 15 years younger than me. But he looks like his years have been harder than mine. We’re sitting side by side, waiting for the bus.

“This bus goes downtown, right?”

“Yes, it does,” I answer.

“I haven’t ridden in a while.”

We sit in silence for a bit.

“Took me all day to get my stitches out,” he says.

He points to a two-inch scar along his left jugular. It looks like an angry red slit.

He tells me he was supposed to be at the clinic over at UNMH at nine. He got there at 10, and didn’t get his stitches out till two. Then he had to catch the bus over here.

“When you gotta take the bus everywhere, it just ends up taking all day, you know?”

I tell him I know what he means.

“I spent another two hours with HSD. I’m going home now – the day’s shot.”

“HSD” is the Human Services Department. The state has a branch office nearby.

“That’s some scar,” I say.

“There was a woman involved.”

“Mm-mm-mm,” I say, and shake my head sympathetically.

“She didn’t do it. It was her crazy ex-boyfriend.”

“You didn’t know she had an ex-boyfriend?”

He explains he knew she had an ex, but her ex wasn’t crazy when they broke up or afterwards. They even met shortly after he moved in, when the ex showed up to pick up the rest of his stuff from her apartment.

“He was fine. We got along good.”

“How long ago was that?

“Two, two and a half months.”

“And he never bothered you all after that?”

“Never saw him again until that afternoon.”

He starts counting the days backward.

“Man, that was almost two weeks ago.”

He shakes his head in disbelief.

“Was he drunk?”

He has no idea. He was “blindsided.” He says he opened the door, saw the ex sitting on the couch, said “What’s going on?”

The ex got up and slammed a glass into the side of his face. He doesn’t remember much after that except stumbling downstairs to the front of the building and that there was a lot of blood.

“They told me another five minutes and I’d’a bled to death.”

He shows me small lacerations and puncture marks on the side of his face, then a laceration on his left wrist.

“Defending myself,” he explains about the wrist.

Before his story, I’d seen the side of his face but thought the redness was sunburn and the marks acne scarring. I did notice his left eye looked not exactly swollen, but distorted.

“I’m probably gonna have to go back for this,” he says, pointing to a swollen place on his left cheek. He explains one of the lacerations went clear through to the inside of his cheek. He says he still can’t eat solid food, and he has to drink with a straw or else the liquid leaks out into his cheek.

“Did your girlfriend tell you what happened?”

He remembers she came to the hospital to see him, but he doesn’t remember much more than that. Later, she called him to tell him she’d been evicted from her apartment.

“I was gonna go try and find her, but it’s too late now. I’m going back home.”

And then he adds, “To my mother’s house.”

I’ve noticed throughout this conversation that I’ve heard no anger in his voice. There is instead a kind of dazed, it's-still-unreal tone. That, and a weary resignation.

We board the bus, and he sits in the seat in front of me.

“You sure this bus goes downtown?”

“Straight to the ATC. Where do you live?”

“Coors. I can take the 66 from downtown.”

I suggest maybe he should take the Rapid Ride Red Line.

“What’s that?”

I explain about the Red Line, about how he could get off at Central and catch it just across the street. It would save him a lot of time.

When we get to Central, I get off, he stays on.

Before getting off, I put my hand lightly on his shoulder.

“Good luck.”

“Thanks, bro.”

Thanks to BB in Marshfield, MA, for this week's feature story: Two Weeks Ago In: Boston.


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