Sunday, October 04, 2015

BUS STORY # 465 (Portrait # 30: Humpty Dumpty)

Humpty Dumpty, by Barry Moser, from his Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass series; downloaded from the website for R. Michelson Galleries

He’s sitting on the bench seat behind the driver, wearing a gray homburg. You don’t see homburgs much these days. It’s an old man’s hat. He’s an old man, somewhere in his 70s. Gray hair curls out from under the back of the hat.

He’s also wearing oxygen, something more commonly seen than the homburg. The tubing is attached to a cylinder which is attached to a walker. It’s a four-wheel walker, with a bench seat and a basket. The oxygen tank sits in the basket, and is secured by an orange wire attached to the frame.

He’s wearing a bright orange, roomy sweatshirt, no logo, and a pair of dark blue slacks. Gray sneakers, white tennis socks, hairless splotchy ankles between the tops of the socks and the cuffs of his slacks.

He’s egg-shaped, the egg evenly divided between the orange on top and the dark blue of those high-waisted slacks on the bottom. Humpty Dumpty. I see how fragile he really is when, at a stop, he struggles to get up. He succeeds, but he isn’t exiting, He shuffles over to the bench seat opposite him, on the passenger side. He sits back down and twists forward, so he can see out the front window.

He’s taken his right hand off the walker handle to grasp the pole by his seat, but when the bus starts up, the walker starts to roll. He grabs it in time, but you can see his whole being go into panic mode. I watch his hands now, and they are fidgety, positioning and repositioning themselves on the handles while he struggles to keep watch out the window. A few stops later, he calls out to the driver the next stop is his.

The driver kneels the bus. But at the doorway, when the old man starts pushing the walker out onto the sidewalk, the angle is still too much for the weight of the tank, and the walker starts to tip over. He pulls back on it while several of us jump up to help. The driver is right there. He keeps the walker upright and gets all four wheels onto the sidewalk. The old man stands there for a minute, catching his breath.

The driver takes his seat, but he waits until the old man starts moving before he puts the bus back in gear. The winds outside are whipping and snapping the legs of his slacks, but the homburg stays on.


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