The bus was a sea of grey and expressionless faces, contrasted by yellow safety rails, garish advertisements, and a dozen songs playing at once. An overstimulating mess of nothing, like a casino or a carnival, but on the bus not one person present wants the noise. The speakers at the front called out stops—Southridge Drive, Byrne Road, Marine Way—where nobody lived, nobody made a move for the doors, as if the speakers and the signs and the nothing would all get on fine without us.
My seat was at least interesting. It had nothing else going for it. The padding was so old and unrelentingly stamped down that it had a firmness like rubber, in the shape of a million-million asses. I could just about fit my whole entire bum inside of one cheek. I felt remarkably thin by contrast to the amalgamated ass of the city, and I appreciated it, while wrestling with the choice of having the ridge either in the middle to cleave me open, or to one side holding me uncomfortably off kilter. The struggle helped to pass the time.
Through the near window were office parks and industrial complexes, repeating ad nauseum like a background from The Flintstones. It was enough to give me a sense of tunnel vision and visual sensory overload. It’s the same for me at the grocery store, looking at endless racks of identical packaging, trying to pick out the very best can of beans. Oh, fuck it, we’ll mix them all together on our way to the hospital to complain about these palpitations. It’s the sort of thing the world and its people were never really meant to be able to process—a total lack of any variation, like the faces of the people around me.
One long stretch of road had trees to either side and not much else. I gazed between the fast-moving trunks and branches, trying to peer deep. I thought, what’s out there? I wanted to pull the cable. Let me off here, man, I’m going soul-searching! Black bears won’t really come after you, and if they do you can just shout out at them, call them cunts and they’ll fuck right off. I imagined a shy, awkward tail bobbing along as an emotionally wounded bear scampered away from me. Wanting nothing more than to get off the bus, I checked my phone instead.
I had a few prospects lined up for the night, but only two new messages. The first was from a girl with a sort of pretty face, but shit taste in music, so I left her message unread for the moment, figuring she might make a solid backup in the case that bachelorette #2 wasn’t interested. My superior option was named Molly, and her message read:
A real shame, because Molly had a tattoo on her tits. I would give her a day or two to forget whatever heinous garbage I said to her before trying a fresh approach. For the time being it looked like the best I could do was to send a message back to my basic bitch runner-up to schedule our illicit encounter, which I thought I might even show up for if nobody else came along before sunset.
Part of me loves to ride the bus, because I get to sneak glances at the diverse and interesting human animal. Only a bobbing tail shy of matching the black bear’s majesty. They don’t give much away, staring at their feet, but there is always something lurking there. A hateful discontent with the guy whose knee keeps moving to touch hers, no matter how far she tries to shrink away from him. Or the woman eating boiled eggs. It feels as if they’ve all known each other at some point in their lives and I’m just the awkward dude who walked in on a fight, and they’re all afraid to talk about it in front of me so they bury their faces and they wait for me to leave so their cease-fire might end and they can become entangled once more in whatever roils beneath the surface.
None of this was helping with the urge to jump off the bus and run wild through the forest, beating my chest and screaming “CUNT!” at passing bears with my cock slapping hard against my thighs. But it could wait until after the bar.