Sometimes the most mesmerizing stories are the ones you can’t find a way to tell. Here’s one:
Several attempts at the bus ride on the #16
1. At home with the world of things, with nuts and bolts of the world with wheels and brakes, with hammers, nails, with making things right. In his body, wrinkled skin and yet firm, he’s ok, he nods, once definitively and when the bus pulls away, he waves. Once. A strong wave, like a centurion hail and farewell. Heroic.
2. He’s always that good to her, the woman says watching as we pull away. She has a lined face, and dyed wheat hair and a shopping cart, the two-wheeled kind. A young boy, with impossibly rosy cheeks and large brown eyes is with her. He smiles at everyone, sees a friend, says peace, and walks to the back, before saying someone was saying hey to me and I couldn’t see but now I do, and it’s him. He walked to the back. I can’t see.
3. Those people, says the lady, and then she starts, I can’t hear her, but she is so earnest. Has so much to say. Something about the middle of their night, something broke, it was scary, how they said we’ll help, and the man came over and fixed it or helped or something. She says those people keep to themselves mostly. They are apart from the world and don’t care about the outside. And Jesus doesn’t mean to them what he means to us. I say Jesus means a lot of things to different people and that’s ok. She says, then there’s that branch that does polygamy. She shakes her head and squints her eyes, but that’s just a branch –of and that don’t mean anything. But that they would do this for us. I say that sure is something. That’s what it’s all about.
4. My father used to say that. That’s what it’s all about. And today it actually means something. What do you say when you don’t know what to say about something good? About a moment of grace? About a kindness that doesn’t fit into your parameters of things. Into something you have no words for. Yes, I say. A pleasure talking with you. A pleasure.
5. The man she is talking about who started this whole conversation was the man with the woman in the wheelchair at the front of the bus. I couldn’t see her. Long hair. He nodded I’m fine. He talked with her, and he rearranged the seats in the bus, so they were back in their original position. So the bus driver didn’t have to do it. He pulled levers, and at the end, he knocked the seat back into position with his fist. Not too hard, just hard enough. And then he said goodbye, and then he waved to the bus driver. Completely in his skin. Focused. A Zen master. He amazed me.
6. Because why else would Jesus come up in the conversation? He comes up as a placeholder for anything that seems surprising.
7. He’s always so good to her she said, even when she is practically falling out of her chair. He’s always like this. I could feel that, I said. The force was strong in them Obi Wan.
4 thoughts on “Storytime Sunday, June 17th, 2012”
Your stories are weird, mind-bending, contemplative, entertaining, and thoughtful. I literally read this story four times and had a different reaction each time – all positive, by the way. I love finding writing like this on this vast, crazy canvas known as the Internet.
Thanks so much for visiting and enjoying!
I’m not going to ask what you were doing on a Riverside bus, but I will say this story really works for me. It’s interesting that you can get to the heart of your characters in just a few hundred words or so, where it usually takes me 5,000.
Thanks joe! I was taking the bus regularly last year. Public transport in SoCal always provides an inspiration. I love to write short. You write long – which I admire, and which – for me – is quite difficult to do. Thanks again.