Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bus writer

He's at least seventy-five, maybe in his eighties. His face is bright red, a fringe of silky white hair around a bald top. When I walk past him to a seat in the back, he jumps, swinging his face around at me, eyes bugging out like I'd just straddled his lap.

I sit behind him. He's holding a fistful of crumpled notebook paper, the wide ruling not big enough for his looping handwriting - each line of text takes up four lines of paper.

I can read it over his shoulder.

...but Mr. Berghof said that he preferred a rural setting. After a light meal dinner on board, Berghof indulged in a "coffee-brew," as the phrase goes.

C-- continued...

The old man bunches up his shoulders like he can feel me eavesdropping, a burning on the back of his neck. He puts one gnarled hand flat on the paper, covering up the words, then folds it emphatically into thirds, scrawling something on the backside before shuffling it with the other papers he holds.

He straightens his sheaf of paper on his lap, then tucks it into a blue folder, automatically putting it down to his right, as though he expects to find a filing cabinet there, instead of the floor of the bus. He swivels his head around, looking for his truant filing cabinet before shifting the folder to his left hand and setting it on the seat beside him.

He drums his fingers on his knee, then reaches again for the blue folder, removing the sheaf of papers, and turning the folder inside out before replacing the papers.

My stop is coming up. It's only reluctantly that I leave him behind, glaring at me accusingly when I dare to pass him again.

His words stay with me all day. Coffee-brew. Does the phrase go that way? I've never heard it before. Is he a nutcase, or a successful writer? Is there a difference?

Coffee-brew, I think, walking to work. Coffee-brew, coffee-brew, coffee-brew.


Geo said...

I think it's lodged in my nut now too.

I'll go to the ward campout tonight muttering, "Coffee-brew, coffee-brew . . ." Think any Mos will talk to me?

Bones said...

I feel a Zippy moment coming on.

And yes, he's crazy.

Chemical Billy said...

Hee, hee, Geo - it's all part of my plan. Plan for what, I can't say...

Bones - I should have known you were a fellow Zippyphile!