by Rodney Knight
Sometimes you get on the bus and it's crowded, sometimes it's
not. sometimes you sit and the bus fills up around you until every seat
is taken except for yours. Then you wonder, why doesn't anyone want to
sit with you. Maybe your looks are a threat. They look at you and your
face says "stay away." The bus is full and all you hear is the engine.
The bus stops, a lot of people get out. Hotel district, people going to
work. Maids, cooks, busboys, etc. The stop requested bell rings, a
person gets off. The bell rings again, a person gets off. The back door
slams as he gets out. Gas station man. The sound of the engine again. A
man falling asleep, his gun falling out of his coat wakes him up. He
looks down, sees the gun, and quickly hides it. Bad boy, bad boy, what
are you going to do when they come for you. The bus driver is ahead of
schedule so we have to wait. We are by the mall and you can see the
mountains. A man asks me for change. He sits in front of me trying his
best to talk to a lady he just met. He smiles a lot.
bus driver is a short Mexican man who looks like he drank too much
coffee or needs a beer. I don't care as long as he stays on the road.
There was a bus crash a few years ago, a bus was coming down from the
tram parking lot to 111 when the brakes went out, the bus plunged over a
cliff killing almost all people aboard. The girl is starting to get
irritated by the smiley man. Smiley Man gets the hint and moves to
another seat. It's not enough for the girl, she gets off the bus. Now
it's my turn. I pull the rope, the bus comes to a stop and I get out.
There is another bus going to another destination. I get on that bus
which will take me to where I want to go. The driver is a big black lady
who gulps from a small cooler, shades over her eyes. This bus is half
empty, or half full, depending on how you see it. The bus moves and we
are off and here comes Seabiscuit. The CB radio blares something that I
cannot understand. The sun shines in my eyes as we make the turn, a turn
to the left and no more sun. It's hot outside but very cool on the bus.
The bus stops, somebody gets off. My stop is coming up and I pull the
chain. The bus stops and I get off.
I am standing in
front of the post office. It is hot and I walk up the ramp, easily
accessible. Through the doors and to my P.O. Box. What is that number
now, oh yeah. One letter and thirty thousand advertisements. I take the
letter and throw away the rest. What the hell, since I'm throwing away
things I might as well clean my carry bag. I take out what I want to
keep and turn the bag upside down over the trash can. The bag has
sunflower seeds falling out. Half the seeds end up on the floor. Oh
well, I kind of kick them around and start to walk out when I notice the
janitor staring at me. If a look could kill I'd be dead. One foot after
another and I was gone. Never to be seen again. Half of my trip was
over. I stood waiting, waiting for a bus. Fifteen minutes and counting.
One lonely man waiting, waiting for a bus. Two guys walk up, I think
about having conversation. I notice that they are gay. End of
conversation. Another man walks up. He is shy and stands by the bushes
with his head looking down. The bus pulls up.
up and pay the box, the driver hands me a transfer. His name is Scotty.
Beam me up, Scotty! One time I paid the box and noticed I was on the
wrong bus. I asked the driver if I could have my dollar back. He
laughed. You see, the box takes money, it never gives. How full is the
bus? Only six people and three of them have headphones. That's the thing
to have when you ride the bus. I just remembered who Smiley Man is. I
knew I had seen him before. He was many days ago on the bus with his
lady. His lady was wearing his ring. While the cat's away! The bus pulls
over and a man gets on. "Oh, do a day!" Well, Scotty has beamed me to
Cathedral City and I get off the bus. I have to cross the street to get
to the next bus stop. I wait for the light. A big red hand is telling me
not to go. Rip Van Winkle wakes up to a green man on a sign who looks
like he's walking. I cross the street. At the bus stop the scheduled
time is not now. Forty minutes and counting. Do my eyes deceive me, or
is that a Circle K over yonder? I take the walk, it is hot. The thoughts
of ice cream dance through my head. Inside the store I look at the ice
cream. Nutty buddy looks good. At the counter I find out that the cost
of ice cream has gone up.
It's like gasoline. The price
rises and falls, bus mostly rises. The ice cream is good and makes my
walk enjoyable. Joy to the world, ice cream is here. Have you ever
noticed that the last part of a Nutty Buddy always melts in your hand?
Then you're looking for a napkin but you get distracted by someone
wanting change. You reach into your pocket, pull out the change, look at
your pants and shake your head. At the bus stop three people are
waiting. Two are smart and sit aways from the stop where there is shade.
This beautiful black chick straddles the bus stop bench out in the sun
with her hear held back, she defies common logic. It's as if she were at
the beach trying to get a suntan. Not in Cat City, enduring the 115
degree heat. I sit in the shade and wait. I don't have to wait long. The
bus is here. I wait in line, walk up and give the driver my transfer.
His name is Larry and there is a plaque above his head to prove it. He
throws my transfer in the trash. I sit down towards the back of the bus.
It's only 10:00, making good time today. The bus moves and we're off.
people quiet and staring straight ahead. There in the zone. My zone is
peaceful, only good thoughts. Green light, made it through one. Green
light, made it through two. Green light, made it through three. It's
coming up, it's still green, will we make it? Yes, and it's four. Red
light, came to a complete stop. To roll through is to get a ticket. They
call it a California stop. What cop would want to pull over a bus
anyway? It's unheard of. One guy has decided to sit passed out in his
seat. He's still in the zone, but with a different view. We stop at Palm
Desert Mall. Most of the people get out, the zone is broken. The driver
takes a break. he goes outside, sits down and talks on his cell phone.
He has it squished to his ear as if it were priceless. The engine still
runs at a fast idle. The door is open and the heat creeps in. I move to
the back where it is cooler. A lady puts her bike on the bicycle rack
that's attached to the front of the bus. She has a little girl with her.
The little girl runs over and gives the bus driver a big hug. The
driver's name is Robert.
Her mom talks to the driver
and all three get on the bus. Mother and daughter don't pay the box and
sit up front. The driver does what he does, he drives and we're off, but
it's not a race. No other cars on the road right now. We make a turn
and stop, a big black fat man gets on. He has ear phones and the number
on his shirt says 5. He sits in the back, the very back. Nicely dressed
lady in a wheelchair gets on. The driver helps her get settled in. Again
we move, we are on the other side of the mall now, two people get on, a
lady around forty with short hair, glasses, chewing gum and what looks
like a college kid with a backpack. Next stop a man gets off. Again with
the red light. Construction area up ahead, we have to stop. We creep
and stop, creep and stop. We move faster and then faster and then red
light. We wait, a lot of traffic now. The first in line to wait, the
first in line to go, one way of looking at it. The bus stops, a man gets
on, baseball cap, sunglasses, ponytail, white shirt, and a gull orange
bottle of soda. The bus stops, a man gets off. The man has a brief case
and it looks heavy. He gets out the back where I am sitting.
lady in the wheelchair gets out, using the front. It's an electric
chair and she does not have too much of a problem getting out. The bus
moves on. Green light. The zone is back, peace to the world. If only we
could. We are in Indian Wells going by the Marriot. All eyes straight
ahead. How long will the zone last? It's over, a man in the front is
going through his pack, a lady picks her nose. In La Quinta I see the
Cliffhouse and the waterfall across the street. We stop at the shopping
center. The man with the pack gets out and then a lady. We move on, the
next stop Orange Soda Man gets off through the back. There are only five
of us now. Lady and child change seats so they can talk better to the
driver. She waves her arms as she talks. Red light, fourth in line,
fourth to stop, and forth to go. The auto center, summer sales event.
Villa Montego, low 100,000's. Open desert, both sides. Gas stations,
both sides. Green light and we come to a stop. Mexican lady and two kids
get on. A boy and a girl, ages seven to ten. Lady with the child talks
to the Mexican lady. We stop. An older lady gets on, dressed nice.
Earrings, blond hair, diamond ring. She sits down and looks around a
lot. We stop. Two ladies and two little girls get on. My stop coming up,
must sign off.