Saturday, May 15, 2004

The rat

In the bus. I've not really decided where I'm going. Where I should get off. No plan.
A woman comes on-board seemingly by herself. She smiles to a guy with a red T-shirt who has not found a seat. She has a gold tooth and makes a gesture of inviting him to seat on her lap. He ignores her and walks to the back of the bus. I see on her face that she has been vexed by his reaction, his total lack of acknowledgement. A moment later, they're seating next to each other. Her gold tooth is shining in the sun and her head is on his shoulder.

I am on my way home now. Waiting for the bus near a park. I noticed a woman walking toward me. She is wearing a beige skirt and a darker shirt too small for her. She walks with her feet spread out. Her face is locked to the outside world, avoiding other people's eyes. I am no exception.
A few minutes later, almost following her footsteps, I see a tall man coming. He is wearing a blue jean, carrying a bike messenger type bag. He is talking into an invisible cell-phone. He has passed by me for less than 20 seconds when I hear him laugh. The woman is walking toward him now. Both fold their cell phone and greet each other in a timid inclination of their heads. They are now walking together. The woman is beaming. The guy is readjusting the shoulder traps of his bag. I hear her asking about how he's been.

On the bus now. A few seats in front of me, there is a tall lanky young guy. An old black guy seats next to him. He has an old and ripped shirt missing a button. He asks something to the young guy. There is no conversation though, just words exchanged between long silences. The young guy saying "yes", "sure" from time or time.
Two stops later, the old man gets out of the bus and he is replaced by another old man, with a beard carrying plastic bags. He too has a ripped dirty shirt. He too starts to talk to the young guy who answers cheerfully. I hear them talking about Bush-Kerry, government and then a question "When's your birthday?". "December" . "December what?", "Twenty-seven. December 27".
F. and R. birthdays. I hear the old guy saying "Ah! You're a Capricorn!", as if this could explain all what they talked about earlier.

The two guys that came on board and I recognize them from the bus trip this afternoon. They had entered the bus with the same care-free attitude. One green and one yellow T-shirt. Taking hold on the horizontal bars to propel themselves like Tarzan in a jungle, one hand at a time. Walking not quite straightly.

I saw motion before realizing what it was. On the top of the large metal garbage can at the bus stop. Then it jumped to the ground. A big rat who darted to a nearby bush and just stood there. Watching people strolling by on a warm Saturday night.


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