the passengers

Reads: 76  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
a bus

Submitted: June 29, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 29, 2008

A A A

A A A


The bus slowed at the stop on 2nd and West and opened both doors. Passengers filed on an off and the doors closed again. The light was red so the bus stopped and waited while pedestrians filled the crosswalk bumping into one another and looking at each others shoes. James ran towards the bus carrying a briefcase that slowed his run to a jog. The light was still red and James put his knuckles to the door window and hit it 4 times. He pulled a crumpled dollar bill from his pocket, picked the lint from the balled paper and stepped onto the bus as the light changed green. He sat down near the back and gasped for breath. He was a smoker. Choking hard, James spat on the bus floor and wiped his mouth and moved his body to the window and waited and watched the people of New York at their time of need. No one was connected to the city. People died on the streets and the trains and the buses everyday and no one noticed the blood on their shirt and the icy feel of their skin and hair. Everyone would walk by a dead body choking on vomit expecting it to wake up in a half hour and buy a sandwich at the local drug store. In New York, dead people weren’t dead, they were asleep and that’s how everyone liked it. When someone died on the subway, they would ride for days. Things were disconnected and James hated it and hated New York and wanted to spit at the feet of every ignorant human walking the streets. But, he watched instead and laughed with disgust. He had spit at the feet of a couple of business men once and called them cowards and ignorant fools. But they didn’t understand him and gave him a broken nose and a black eye.
People of all race, people of all color filled the empty seats. Two white men sat near the middle and talked in a language foreign to him. They talked in English about what ran down their dry throats at lunch time which had occurred hours before the bus started its route. If there was one thing James learned over years of wasted potential floating like foul soot in the mind of a genius, it was that fighting human nature was death in society. Human nature could not be ignored. It sat on the streets begging and starving like a homeless man. Yet everyone ignored it. He saw everyone ignore it and his teeth would grind and his head would pound. Human nature is what we are and what we will always be and trying to choose a different path was desertion of an environment which will hunt down and kill its abandoner.
The bus stopped again and this time an old vagrant moved to the back seats and sat down. James noticed the man and wanted to ask him if he ever died and woke up, hoping the bum would understand. But he didn’t. The bum smelled like urine and had one sandal and a Doc Martin covering his feet. A pair of headphones covered his ears and a yellow tape deck sat on his stomach. His beard was stained with years of street experience and from what James could tell, he had no teeth. He began talking to himself and muttering under his bristled lips. James was interested and he moved to the aisle seat leaving his briefcase under the window.
“Whatcha listening to”
“What?”
“I said, what are you listening to”
“What?”
“What are…”
James stopped and moved back to his window seat and looked at the buildings. They weren’t much really. Just glass and stone and concrete and people made big fusses over them. The bus passed a church made of limestone and granite. It was painted white and it was easy to tell where graffiti had been placed and washed away. The structure was quite simple. Many of the churches in the city were. James smiled. “That was one place where every ignorant foolish man goes” he said under breath.
James squirmed in his seat. The hot leather stuck to his rigid pants. The foam in the seat was dry and wet and bulged and caved in making it hard to sit comfortably. James still squirmed over the torn leather. He noticed a piece of gum on the ground and reached for it. His hands closed around the dried gum and it moved softly in his hand. James fondled it in his fingers and put it to his lips and nose. Then he put it in his mouth and chewed on the long forgotten and dried thing. It didn’t taste like much but it felt good on his tongue and gums. Now and then a sharp spot would scrape his gums but that was the past and the soft rolling of the gum was his future.
The bus stopped again on Monument and 17th and let passengers on and off. The vagrant pulled his pants up and staggered off the bus and drank deep from a water bottle filled with whiskey, gin and cranberry juice. He winced and wiped his mouth. Stumbling over to a building, he supported himself to his bottom and drank again. Then he closed his eyes. James watched this and kept eyes on the man while his heart slowed and his eyes rested.
The last passenger on was wearing a dark brown suit and a red tie and seemed too presentable and over paid to travel on a city bus. He was a tall man in his stature and much thinner than the average gentleman which was quite outlandish in its meaning and state. People sat and watched him move in a gliding stride from the front to the back. He never stopped staring at the back wall. The man held a grey briefcase that swished at his side and held steady in his large hand. His head was bald and shiny and had a ring of stringy grey hair lining the sides but exposing his ears. The man heard everything. He heard the hooker talking on her cell sitting in the corner. She was talking about last nights pay. The man heard the wife tell her husband she was pregnant. He heard everything.
James watched the man walk to the empty seat and sit down and open his briefcase. Papers cluttered the open space and pens and pencils lined the sides. He began to talk.
“I have a gun.” He said
“Don’t use it yet.”
“I am not dumb.”
“Your right. I’m sorry”
“Don’t be. You seem like a weak man. Never be sorry.” said the man.
The man never took his eyes from the papers in his case. James was intimidated. The man’s face showed no emotion. Its wrinkles wore from age. He shuffled through the papers and found a cream colored piece with black ink. He handed it to James and looked at him. James almost died. The mans eyes didn’t penetrate his soul. They weren’t a gorgon’s stare. They were dull and grey but something about them hurt James. His eyes were pure nature. Pure panic and dread and death swelled in the grey abyss of the mans pupil.
“Should I read it?” asked James
“I don’t know. I shouldn’t make decisions for you. It’s bad for your nature.”
“Yeah.”
James read it. It was basic. All hit contracts were which was quite peculiar because the hit itself was rather complicated. It was less than a page long and the words were easy to read. James liked that. The man motioned to the paper.
“The words are irrelevant. I only need you to sign. Don’t assume this means anything to me because it doesn’t.” the man said.
He offered James a pen, holding it in his palm. The knuckles on the hand were scarred and scabbed and the nails were old and crusted over with flesh and hair. James took the pen with fair discomfort. The pen had a number on it. James almost wrote it down. There was an urge inside him to call it. There was a dying hope in him that thought a voice would pick up on the other end and comfort him while he sat there watching his life waste away in his skinned hands. Instead, he signed his name in blue ink at the line on the bottom. It was done. He felt good. It was a fake good. It was an unnatural good and yet James felt it and let it sit in his stomach and fester in his bowls. He smiled. Over the last minutes James changed. Something altered within him. No spiritual soul or higher power or enlightenment hit him or vanished from him. It was not a epiphany of joy or any good feeling. He had become disconnected like every person walking tall on the streets on the city. He lost any nature that was in him when he emerged from his mother. That nature dissolved and James felt it but couldn’t hold on to it. He handed the contract back to the man who stowed it in his case and closed it, locking it on the sides.
“Thank you.” James said
“This is what I am and what I do. I don’t expect and don’t accept thanks.”
The bus slowed on Kessler and 14th and opened its doors by the Nordstrom at the corner. The man never looked at James but got up with briefcase at side and walked to the front. He gave the bus driver a five dollar bill, stepped onto the sidewalk and headed to the café on the end of Kessler.
James sat there and waited. Then he stood up and walked off the bus leaving four quarters in the pay box. The bench on the corner was empty so James sat down and watched the bus pass and continue on 14th. James waited for the sound. His ears perked up to noise on the street and the chill evening wind that swept the newspapers into the streets. There was no sound. He waited. Only the rustle of leaves and a distant siren pierced the impossible silence.
He heard a clap that echoed on and over the stature of the buildings around. His eyes closed and he felt remorse. Not truly did he feel remorse but what he thought was remorse. Screams began. James turned around and observed people fleeing from a café down a few stores. Yelling for help and panicking like rats were there only actions. The tall man walked out last and took off two rubber gloves. He put them in a nearby trash can and stopped. A gun rested in coat pocket and he pulled it out and in a matter of seconds deconstructed it to pieces and stowed them in his case. He walked past James and turned as he glided by. His eyes hurt James again. But this time that panic and death had been fulfilled. The man kept his pace across the street and entered a nearby diner. James could have reported him to the police. He could have done a lot of things. Instead he sat there and listened to the bawling and crying down the block.
Another bus pulled up at the stop and opened its doors. James felt welcomed so he eased his slender body through the doors and sat down near the front. Watching the people alert to the dilemma at the café, he took a breath and relaxed as the bus went along 14th. He put a piece of gum in his mouth and began to chew.


© Copyright 2017 noheroes13. All rights reserved.

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by noheroes13

a crack becomes a void

Short Story / Other

death of a writer

Short Story / Other

the passengers

Short Story / Other

Popular Tags