Man standing, back to me, knit hat on, light clothes, medium build. Mason’s trowel in right hand,
arm back, trowel pointed at other standing man. Yelling at other man.
Other man stocky, darker skin and clothes, yelling back at first man. Waving arms.
All else has gone quiet. Bus is still rolling along. Everybody watching. Everybody sitting back into their seats.
Trowel man makes some jabbing moves at dark man. Woman near dark man jumps from her seat, rushes into next open one for protection. New seat only two feet from old seat. What protection?
Driver been ignoring this. Bus been making stops.
Trowel-man’s stop comes. He gets off, still yelling. Something bout “gun” and “knife”–who knows what crazy people yell in their crazy times? Who remembers anything but their own fear?
I watch him walk away, looking around all angry and suspicious.
Now it’s Dark Man’s turn. He sits down, but then jumps up and yells:
“Anybody else want to attack me?!” (Nobody does.) “I didn’t THINK so! Gettin’ tired of people tryin’ to KILL me all the time!”
Sits down. Half-stands up and says loudly,
“The white women weren’t scared. Everbody else was, but YOU–the WHITE women weren’t scared!”
Sits down. Puts on headphones and arms start waving all over, keeping time. Not clear if those headphones are connected to a music source.
Says, loudly, “I gotta’ have my music. I ain’t got a woman, so I gotta have my music. You understand that, my man? (To no one.) I know you do!”
Laughs. Bangs arms around some more. Says,
“My blood pressure went way up. Went up eleven mill– mill– millimeters. It’s coming down now, though. It’s down to about eight millimeters now.”
“You understand, I thought he had a knife or gun or something like that. I didn’t know he had no mason’s trowel. I wouldn’t have been scared if I’d known he had no mason’s trowel. You understand what I mean?”
Young woman sitting near me is trying not to laugh. She sets me off so I have to look down, too.
I don’t want to smile. I don’t want anyone to smile. If he sees us, what will he do?
Dark Man jumps up suddenly, mad at something. Throws things at floor and bus seats. Slams his hands hard on the seat back.
The bus comes to the next stop. He gets off.
I start to breathe.
What kind of Christmas story was THAT?! A true one. I copied it almost word-for-word from notes I hurriedly scribbled on the bus right after it happened, because I didn’t want to forget.
If you drive a car, you have another reason to be happy this Christmas. Think about that the next time you’re stuck in traffic.
(But only if you want to.)