Bus Stop Stories

We met last week
at this bus stop.
Even then, you were old.
Gray hair pinned up
in a bee hive.
Cart full of plastic bags
doubling as a walker.
You were digging for bus fare
or for your seniors-ride-free card,
I presumed.

I didn’t say hello.
I didn’t think to ask
about your search.
I just stood there
at a safe distance
staring at you;
being strange.

In the street,
too close to traffic
I looked up the street impatiently
hoping to make the bus come faster
if only I could see it
a mile away.

That’s when
I first heard your voice.
Sweet like honey,
but charcoaled with age.
You reminded me
we had five more minutes.
William, the driver,
we was always on time.

Oh, okay.
I shuffled up the curb
and stood back from you
where I could go on staring
at a safe distance;
being strange.

Did you know you had beetles
crawling out of the caverns of your flesh?
Did those scurrying past your lips
taste like anything I would recognize?
Were they your pets,
or a medical condition?
Were you on your way
to the vet or to the doctor
to get your beetles checked?

William opened the door
When the bus finally arrived.
He welcomed you aboard
with familiarity and joy.
He didn’t even ask for
your seniors-ride-free card.
He knew your name
and didn’t mind you riding
without proof you’d paid.

At me, he just scowled
as I stood there on the curb
hoping for my joyful welcome.
His eyes lit on fire just before
the bus became a giant earthworm
turning to devour me in a single gulp.
William became that little punching bag
hanging at the back of a throat
gaping behind six rows of sharp teeth
dripping with putrid saliva
and closing perilously in on me,
drowning out my helpless screams.

Anyway, that’s why
I ran off screaming
that first time we met.
Nothing personal.
I hope we can still be
complete strangers
waiting for the bus.
I’ll just stay over here
at a safe distance;
being strange.

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