Sunday, August 15, 2010

BUS STORY # 197 (Romo)


Thrive., originally uploaded by busboy4.


He scoots down a few seats until he’s sitting just across from where I’m sitting and reading.

“How’re you doin’?”

I look up at the question and see him reaching out to shake my hand.

He’s a young guy, early 20s, short hair, not bad looking. Brand new shiny white Dallas Cowboys jersey and oversize blue jeans shorts. Script I can’t read tattooed across the right side of his neck, and large gothic letters I can’t decipher running down each forearm.

I shake his hand.

“What’re you reading?”

I show him my New Yorker.

“You from New York?”

“No.” I pause, then add, “I have a daughter who lives there.”

“You from New Mexico, then?”

“For the last 30 years,” I answer.

“You like it here?”

“Sure do.” I pause again, then ask, “How about you?”

“Born and raised here.”

“Ever been out of the state?”

“I been west, but not south.”

“South” surprises me. I was expecting “east.”

“How far’ve you been?” I ask.

“Depends on what you mean by ‘how far.’”

That one also throws me a bit.

“I was thinking ‘miles.’”

He nods, says nothing.

“Seen the ocean?” I ask.

“Yup. California.”

Neither of us says anything for a minute or two. I’m wondering how it is that, of all the folks on the bus, I’m the one he’s decided to talk to. I’m an old white guy in office clothes -- the only old white guy in office clothes. All around us, the riders are listening in with studied indifference and feeling relieved he picked me and not them to talk to.

He starts up. “I like travelin’ -- North Carolina, South, Michigan . . .”

“You ever been to any of those places?”

“Michigan. Lots of times. I got family there.”

“Whereabouts in Michigan?”

“Lansing.”

“Cold winters there,” I tell him. “You ever been there in the winter?”

“Yeah, lots of times. You get into the swamp and pick berries.”

While I’m processing this one, he says, “I really wanna go to Ireland.”

“Ireland? Why Ireland?”

“Cuz it’s green, man. Really green.”

He pulls the cord.

“Michigan’s green,” I counter.

“I just gotta get out of here, get on the road. I like takin’ the road, seeing where it’ll take me without any money.”

Suddenly he calls out to the driver. “It’s the next stop. Sorry.”

“You’re tired of Albuquerque?” I ask.

“Everywhere I go here, nothin’ but trouble. I gotta get outa here.”

There’s another pause, and then he resumes.

“I’m tryin’ to get my life back together again. I’m gonna start classes at CNM.”

“What are you gonna study?”

“Veterinarian. Then I’m outa here.”

Once again, he calls out to the driver. “Sorry, driver, it’s the next stop after this. The one by the library. I’m so sorry.”

He shakes his head. I shake mine, too, on the inside. He’s getting off just as this bus story is getting under way.

I look forward, wondering if the driver is irritated. Instead, I see the driver looking back at us in the mirror and saying, “It’s all right.”

When we get to the library, he says, “Nice talkin’ to you,” and puts out a fist. We bump.

I watch him exit, and catch the name on the back of his jersey: ROMO. Out in the sunlight, that jersey is as bright as white can ever hope to be.

3 Comments:

Blogger Heather said...

Love the last line!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

I really hope you compile all these stories into book form one day. They are American life one day at a time. Thank you.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you both for your kind words.

8:58 PM  

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