Monday, April 04, 2005


I often see the guy at my bus stop; he must work in the same neighborhood I do.

I think he dropped in from New York, circa 1985.

He's pale, big and fleshy, with that unhealthy green tinge that makes me think he toils in the sub-sub-basement of some big money firm, shoveling wads of cash into a large, wet mouth. He has to work fast, the mouth is always hungry, and if he gets behind, it'll be his hand next. He wears a suit of a color -- an un-color really -- that makes no impression beyond highlighting that greenish cast to his skin.

I've never seen anything but a blank, monotonous panic in his face.

Waiting for the bus, morning bagel in hand, he takes a bite, walks three steps out into the street, checks for the bus, looks at his watch, three steps back to the curb, and another bite. Same thing, every morning. Bite, step step step, check for bus, check the time, step step step, bite. Over and over, not quite precise, but with an oppressive religiosity, as though if he doesn't do this ritual correctly, if he fails to check for the bus between bites, the bus will not come.

And, maybe he's right.


Anonymous said...

Oh, god. And I once LIKED large, wet mouths.
Thanks for tickling my synapses, Billy.

Daniel Heath said...

"a blank, monotonous panic"

imagine what he's like at the luggage carousel in the airport...

(this man is frightening and fascinating and I enthusiastically nominate him for a cameo in your novel)

jay said...

Great bit of writing. Thank you.

Shit... I'd love to let you and Monkey O loose in the construction world. You guys would go nuts with all the material.

Chemical Billy said...

Oh, that might be a bad idea, Jay. I can't speak for monkey 0, but there's a reason construction folks have to wear hardhats. That's because of people like me.

Daniel Heath said...

I've had a few forays. They've been the only times in my life when I knew anything about sports. One-size-fits-all conversation starters... I was working asbestos abatement in Chicago when the Bulls were all that... you'd just say "Pippin" and you could kick back and ride the wave of verbiage through to the break.

The foreman on that job, who went shirtless, with his paper protective suit down around his waist, would rip off his respirator to scream at guys when he really wanted them to pay attention.

The guys paid attention.

jay said...

ChemicalB: Yeah, good point on the hard hat thing. Maybe you could find a random construction site and pretend you're an engineer. You could walk around in a denim shirt, with a set of bluprints under one arm, and a face that looks "competant yet angry". That way you could be on a site without injuring everyone. It could be weeks before someone looks up finally and says "by the way... who the fuck are YOU." Then you throw one of those ninja smoke screen bombs and run like a deer.

Ricky D said...

lol @ jay. I once did something similar as a teenager at Taco Bell. I worked there mind you, but they hadn't assigned me to anything that day so I was just doing the odds and ends. For an entire hour I walked from the back to the front, around the line and back to the back holding a pan. Eventually the manager said "Rick? What the hell are you doing?" "Just taking this pan to the back." She laughed and shook her head. Then of course she told me to do the dishes... :(

Ricky D