Sunday, April 12, 2015

BUS STORY # 440 (Shorts 40)

Photo by Busboy

***

We’ve just boarded the Red Line at the Uptown Transit Center when a couple in the doorway asks the driver if this bus will take them to Central. This starts a conversation in which the driver determines where they want to go, and then tells them where to catch the buses they need. They board and take the bench seats across from him. “This is the first time we’ve ridden the bus in Albuquerque,” the woman explains. “Me, too,” says the driver brightly. Everyone laughs. Then he gos on about how some guy just walked up to him and gave him this ABQ RIDE shirt and asked him if he wanted to drive the bus. “I said sure. So we’re all in for an interesting ride.” But the couple knows he’s teasing. And once he starts up the engine, pulls out of the bay, and turns the right direction, the rest of us do, too.

***

Big, big guy boards the bus.  He’s got on a white T-shirt that looks like a tent. Black pants cut off below the knees with strings hanging down.  Buzz cut, no sideburns, a mustache.  Tattoos – crude content and crudely executed – on his calves and forearms, and script tattooed on his neck along the jugular.  He heads for the back.  Later, I offer my seat to a dad and his son, and wind up sitting to his left.  He takes up two seats and seems to be staring at the window across the aisle.  A few minutes later, I see him make a small sign of the cross, three times, quickly.

***

Several of us are seated on the bench, waiting for either the Blue Line, the 5, or the 11. Out and away, standing on the curb, facing the traffic, a big guy is rapping. He is rapping non-stop. I look for ear buds. There aren’t any. He puts some body English into the lyrics. His voice is loud enough to tell he’s rapping, but soft enough -- or maybe far away enough -- that I can only make out an occasional word. Is he doing something from memory or is he free-styling? I wouldn’t know if I could make out every word. When the Blue Line comes, he stays put. Same with the 5. But when the 11 comes later, he still stays where he is. It looks like he’s there to rap, not wait for the bus.

***

She’s standing at the front of the bus regaling a guy in a wheelchair with a story about Lady Gaga doing a performance in a wheelchair. She tells him she sees all the entertainment magazines where she works, and this was a cover story, can you believe it! As she is relating the details of how Lady Gaga used a wheelchair onstage as part of her act, we pass a Catholic church. She makes a quick sign of the cross and kisses her hand without breaking eye contact with the guy in the wheelchair, and without breaking the flow of details about how Lady Gaga ended up having to use a wheelchair for real because she injured her hip, can you believe it!

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