It’s 3am and the only people taking public transportation are the prostitutes, homeless and the skint artists, such as myself, too poor to pony up the cab fare for a ride home.
The door closes behind me, and a bunch of tired faces focus in on my hands as I squeeze them in my front pocket fumbling for the loose change intermixed amongst the lint. I don’t dare look over at them. Locking eyes with a total stranger in New York is enough to make your nose bleed.
The bus driver’s expression of annoyance usurps them all. The words ‘fuck my life’ all but flash across his face as I fish around in my pocket.
I can’t blame him. He hates his job, life, lover and wife and can’t pay his bills on time.
“Put your metro card in!” he repeats.
He sees me holding it, but I know its funds are insufficient, so rather than embarrass myself any further, I silently shuffle toward the closed door.
“Put your metro card in!”
I tell him it’s empty, but he already knows this and nods at the slot the card so elegantly slips into.
I do as I’m told, and to my surprise, the machine flashes green. I walk to the back of the bus with my tail between my legs, my eyes on the floor.
The bus doesn’t wait for me to sit. I’m thrown into the nearest seat available. It’s empty but covered in a crusty, mustard yellow pile of puke.
I sit in it anyway, and offer thanks the sadistic god I occasionally pray too anytime shit gets that funny.
For a moment, I wonder what other people thank him for in their prayers, but realise I don’t actually give a fuck. Instead I focus on getting back to Fort Greene and in bed with the lady who makes love to me at night and tea in the morning.
In a seat a few inches away on my left, a man, dressed in the thickest clothes I have ever seen and smelling like a turd on a hot summer’s day, appears to possess what at first looks like a bruised bratwurst sticking out of his zipper. Of course it’s more phallic than a frankfurter. He can’t afford one of those.
“It’s enough to make you sick!” a little old Spanish lady says, seeing I have just noticed what she’s most likely been staring at longer than she’d ever admit. She tuts three times (tut, tut, tut) and turns to look the other way.
I can’t help taking another peek and consider capturing this moment on my camera to post later as my Facebook profile picture.
But to be honest, between the stench of sick under my butt and the odor off this gentleman, I’m feeling rather unwell and out of character.
I decide instead to take out a book I am reading by Jeff Noon and try fix my attention onto the Stash Riders and follow them down the rabbit hole, the safe way.
It’s at this moment the man starts to cough violently. From the inner recesses of his esophagus shoots a slab of phlegm into the air in what can only be explained as a slow-motion moment. It smacks the cover of my book. Bright yellow with a dash of something red and brown. Nothing too horrible but neither pleasant nor wanted on my property. Luckily, I still had the metrocard whose insufficient funds I’d fashioned into a bookmark. I swiped as much of the mucous as I could off the cover and onto the floor. I thought as in exchange I should give this kind fellow the aforementioned metrocard, and hoped it’d prove as handy should he find himself in such a sticky situation someday.
Today’s lesson: Never throw anything away that could keep you from getting home, losing your place in a good book or wiping the dirtiest nastiness away from your life.