January 9th, 2009

Coffee Squirrel

Rainbow Brite and the unfortunate bus ride

I had just missed the bus, so there was a wait for the next one. People slowly filed over to the bus stop to join me as it got closer to the time for the 3:57. At least I think that's when the next one was due.

"Heeey!" called a loud but shaky voice. I turned and saw a thin, pale waif tottering on multicolored platform boots. Her hair and outfit were multicolored as well. She was a veritable strung out Rainbow Brite. "Hey!" She called again. My attention was divided between watching Rainbow Brite make her way around the bus stop and hoping that it would be a bit warmer on the bus.

"I know that I've bummed cigarettes from at least half of you. I have some ciggies now. Do you want one?" she asked. She walked the gauntlet down the seated and standing students and employees offering a cigarette and a light.

"No, thank you," I smiled when she got to me. She turned her unfocused eyes to the next person.

When the bus came, we all entered and found our seats. I walked to the back and pressed myself tightly toward the window with my backpack on my lap. The crowd quickly filled the vehicle. I wanted to read, but I would not have been able to pull out a book and hold it properly without jostling my seatmate. I just let my arms fall around my backpack and gazed out the window. There were people standing in the aisles and a couple students running toward the bus waving their arms. They would enter, winded and grab a strap to steady themselves. The very minute written on the bus schedule arrived and we pulled out of the station. A breeze touched my face. The windows were open.

I was taking deep breaths. I dislike crowds and feeling pressed in. I worked to get my mind elsewhere. We were turning onto a ramp and there was a commotion up front. I couldn't see it as those that were standing were in my way. A guy across the aisle stood up to get a better view of what was going on.

"Oooooohh!" He shouted, throwing his arms in the air and letting the fall back to his sides. I got slivers of images of the bus driver's blue outfit and heard a spraying sound. The guy across the way gave color commentary as if he were watching a sporting event.

"Aaaand. The junkie. Puked!" He let himself drop back to his seat and shook his head. His seatmate heaved with laughter. Poor, poor Rainbow Brite. I felt for her, but was now pleased the windows were open. I was chilly but did not smell vomit. I leaned to my side a bit and for a fraction of a second could make out a dejected, colorful woman sitting alone in a circle cut out of the crowd by disgust. It was like watching social exocytosis. Rainbow Brite was summarily pushed out into the interstitial fluid of the city two stops later. No one closed the hole she left, though.

Obviously -- and thankfully -- all of my bus rides are not so eventful. I think I'll start recording some of them again. For posterity, you know.