This week’s short story takes a look at one scene from the point of view of three different strangers at a bus stop inspired by an actual snippet from a conversation I heard a while back, “I can’t believe I never knew she was a world champion pogo sticker!”
“I can’t believe I never knew she was a world champion pogo sticker! I mean, this is the kind of thing that we should know, you know?”
The young woman next to me is shouting into her phone. I smirk and try to muffle my laughter. A pogo sticker? Seriously? But, judging from her outfit, she must run in a strange crowd. She is wearing pink spandex, a tight purple skirt and a revealing crop top. Her hair is tied up in a high ponytail and her make up is brash and sparkly. I couldn’t can’t figure out if she is a waitress in a 1950s-style diner, or if this was is just what kids were are wearing these days.
“Yah, yah, I knooooow! Yah, I’ve only seen her, like, three times since she quit, but it’s just too funny! Oh my God. And have you seen her boyfriend? Total nerd. He’s, like, some chess champion or something. Man, I could write a book about these two.”
Oh. Now who’s this strange man? And why is he pacing back and forth? It’s making me nervous! I’ll just shift a little to the right. Yes, that’s better. I guess this is my life now that I’m forced to take the bus. Oh how I wish I didn’t have to sit here in the cold with these odd people, but I can’t miss another appointment with my podiatrist or I’ll have to pay out of pocket this time. I still can’t believe I didn’t pass that ridiculous driver’s test
— sixty years of clean driving and this is my reward? Great, I guess a lifetime of bus rides with strange people is now my future. I still can’t believe my own son took my car away from me. You give your kids everything and they just keep on taking — it never ends. Getting old is not for the weak.
I finally manage to get off the phone with McKenzie. God, can she talk! But, you know, you gotta love her. She is my MDMA hook up after all. Damn, last night was awesome. My god why won’t that old woman stop staring at me? What is her problem? Oh yeah, it must be the clothes. 80s roller derby themed queer meetups for the win! Yes, I love them. But mostly, I love HER. Yes, she is so hot. God, I can’t stop thinking about her. Should I text? She’s already posted on Instagram today. Oooh… she just posted! She’s online. Right now! Do I like her photo? She looked so adorable in those short shorts and that helmet. Daaaaamn. Okay I’m gonna like it. I’m gonna….LIKED! Oh God, now I’m terrified. Now I can’t even…nope. Nope…comment! Yes, I have to comment. I just can’t stop myself. She’s just too cute; too cute for words. Ugh. The guy next to me smells so bad. I wonder what it’s like to be homeless? Yuck. No hot shower? No way. Good thing I have this amazing career — oh yes, waiting tables at the Cactus Club is my dream come true. Time to do something about that. Time to become a real singer. But I kinda do love waiting tables. The tips are so good! Maybe I can move up? Be a manager? Ugh. No..I think — oh my god! She replied to my comment! Oh, oh, it’s definitely flirtatious! This is gonna be a good day.
Always the same, always the same. Never stopping, always hustling. I think I can. I think I can. Old woman. Young woman. Women. All the same. Never talking to me. Never seeing me. Never stopping to talk. I just want. I want. I want money. I want things. I want a house. I want hot food. Too dirty. Too dirty. They tell me. I can’t come in. I can never come in. I pace. I pace back and forth. At this bus stop, at this place. I wait. I wait for the bus that I don’t get on. I wait for my life to change. I wait. They tell me to take the pills.
They tell me I won’t be crazy. But maybe I want to be crazy. Pogo sticker? Ha. Good one. I’ll write a poem. Words. Beats. Rhythms. They’re inside me. They want to get out. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. I sleep on the streets, but I’m a prince in the sheets. No, too cheesy. Too much. I’m too much. Chantelle. She told me that. I’m TOO MUCH. What is too much of a self? What is it? Old woman is staring. She moved. Oh to be old and to judge. To think you see and yet you don’t. Here I am woman. Here I am. It’s me. It’s just me. Can’t you see me? No you see dirt. You see crazy. You see old clothes. You smell old clothes. I wasn’t always like this. PhD. Get one. They told me for a poet this is the way. Teach. Like it’s the only option. My words are mine. They don’t belong to the hierarchy of education. They’re mine. Beats. The beats. Never stop. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Moving on. Next bus. Next bus.
Maybe the next bus. Maybe that one I’ll get on.