I'm back at work now, but broken down and wispy long before close of business. I leave the office early this afternoon, climbing onto the bus in my post-surgical fog; still flattened and grim from pain pills and the last drams of anesthetic working its way out of my body.
I barely notice the lavish sunshine after weeks of rain.
My way onto the bus is impeded; the driver is arguing with an unseen passenger, the driver's braids clacking as she shakes her head:
"You gotta get rid of the cup. I'm not moving until you hand it up."
Other passengers are getting into the act, now, one calling up to the driver: "It's empty, the cup is empty. He just turned it over in his hand."
"I don't care, you gotta hand it up!"
A deep voice booms out from inside, "Let's get this bus moving! We gotta be there for 420 on Hippie Hill, 420 on Hippie Hill, children."
Finally I'm able to move in, navigating around a red toy wagon and the owner of the deep voice, a black man in his sixties, carrying a staff topped with tassels, raffia and plastic leis. He wears a tall felt hat; the brim is laced with rainbow colored fur, the underside turned up to show white stars on a blue background. The top, I see as I pass, is ringed with marijuana leaves. He carries an American flag and waves it at me.
"Happy Thursday," he says, with a big smile.
I can't help smiling back.
The other passengers finally convince the driver to Let it go already, and the bus is away. 420 Man's voice rolls through the bus, rising and falling. I can't tell if he's talking to someone he knows, or to the bus at large. Maybe it's a little of both.
"...if everyone smoked cannabis, it would heal the world...420 on Hippie Hill, children, everything good you can imagine...pot lasagna, pot and barbeque chicken, mm-mm!...that stuff comes from Mother Earth, it's all organic!...Mm, you can see the smoke from here!..."
A blonde guy is talking in German on his cell phone. A greyish looking kid, covered with tattoos, pulls his hood further down over his face. At least five passengers scattered around the bus are drinking forbidden coffee, munching sandwiches blithely.
420 Man goes on:
" Steroids, crack, meth amphetamines - where do they come from?"
Unexpectedly, a hipster chick in front of me answers him, "From men, made by men!"
"...and coca, cannabis?"
"...from Mother Earth," sings Hipster Girl.
"This is our stop," announces 420 Man, standing up & shaking his staff, "Happy Thursday! Happy Earth Day!"
I want to follow him out, go where he's going. I can see, down on the street, crowds of hippies wandering into the park.
On his way out, he stops to wink at those of us left behind:
"I want a greeeen house on my Brokeback Mountain!"
The bus doors close on his laugh.