The radiant Moon, just past full, is at one o'clock in the clear Eastern sky.
The cold-hearted crone of the heavens has my attention this week.
She has a consort, two fingers off to the south at one o'clock.
I wonder what planet it is and recall standing out under the stars in Cody Wyoming as Shayne attempted to teach me the map of the sky that is so often obscured in my habitat.
I board out in the county, near Towson, with a nervous black youth, seemingly freaked out about wherever he is headed. He is the only one of his kind onboard.
Black youth and men who work by night have been abandoning the mass transit system as they know what awaits them on their home turf, opting to pay about half their small earnings for a cab, hack, sedan or Uber to take them safely to their door. Perhaps he lacked cab fare.
With not a hoodrat on the back deck I sit up there with a big, slouch-shouldered whigger; he is menacing, lantern-jawed, strong in his late twenties and evinces a grumbling impatience with the world.
Ahead of me off loads a Latino cook who says "good night" in recently practiced English to the bus driver.
Then boards a fat, drunken white man in his early thirties using his smart phone to Google Earth his way to some East Baltimore destination. The intervening stops are empty—all of the city stops are empty, although at some of these stops lean figures stand nearby in the shadows.
The chattering, blonde, scruff-faced fellow who occupies the rap seat [where those who want to socialize with the driver habitually perch and chatter], uses his smart phone ap to suggest a route for the drunk fool in his desk jockey suit—now the worse for wear—, featuring a connect at the last city stop, and the bald man stumble-bums off the bus and staggers across the street, the five security men manning the front door of the hiphop bar next to Overlea Station regarding him with ill-humor.
As we near the first county stop a stumbling apparition somehow survives a rolling fall in traffic—albeit light but speeding—in the southbound lane. The driver, so disinclined to stop for whites or at darkened bus stops in the city, actually pulls over and waits for this idiot to board the bus via the back door. The idiot staggers to the front to put money in the meter. He is dressed in beige cargo shorts and white wife-beater, covered in grass stains and asphalt rub. He is heavily tattooed with amateurish work, is pale skinned and narrow, perhaps 130 pounds at five eight. This slug is wearing his white sneakers like slippers, with the bent down backs under his heels. He carries a box of Little Debbie Honey Glazed Buns, which he looks into greedily, but is so stoned that he cannot figure out how to get one of the individually wrapped confections out of the torn box. He comes to sit by me, apologizes for existing, admits to never having taken a bus and wants to know how to get to Dundalk without being "ass-raped on the street, man."
I tell this idiot stoner to get off the bus at the Hospital, as that is the only safe transfer point and then catch the #4 down into Dundalk. I point to the scruffy smart phone sage upfront and tell him not to listen to anyone that suggests a transfer at Old Eastern and Stemmers. He thanks me and gets off.
As my dysgenic charge off loads in a stupor by the backdoor an alternative disgrace to my race loads upfront. He is five feet, 120 pounds, has curly black hair, sporting two recently acquired, deeply blackened eyes that make him look like a raccoon. He boards and asks the racist, negro bus driver, what bus he can take down into Cedonia-Rosedale and where he can get off "where I won't be shit-beaten by niggers?"
The bus driver correctly tells him that there is no such place.
The gruff whigger behind me growls, "Common, Yo, move this bus!"
The driver complies as the smart phone sage begins pulling up aps and triangulating the near future of this tiny, beaten twerp's commute, as if he has anything better than luck to survive on.
The stoner, wandering in the middle of Hospital Drive, is almost run over by an arriving ambulance and we pull off, Kendra having boarded and taken up her post next to the driver, whom she has a huge and obvious crush on.
Four of us offload at the thrift store lot, the big whigger apishly swinging away like a sawed off and shaven sasquatch with fitted cap, daring anyone to approach him and the squirrelly blonde smart phone genius walking with the human raccoon to the #23 stop, lecturing him about dealing with niggers, beginning with the brilliant suggestion that one not call them niggers.
As I hoist my backpack, with police sirens and the stutter of helicopter blades above and behind, two young mix-raced teens race by me on BMX bikes, looking over their shoulder with giddy glee at the chopper banking in the wrong direction and laughing over their shoulders about, "Stupid fucking poleese!"
Sure enough, the chopper and sirens head in the other direction.
Eunice greets me at the stop with a, "Good evening, Sir."
She has now taken to scanning the eastern and southern approaches to our position while I scan the north and west.
A drunk Dindu bitch runs her car into the curb as she speeds through the lot behind us, banks and skids out onto the street, nearly being hit by a working white pickup truck and then skids over in the far lane, rap music blaring from car speakers, the fender rattling to the base and the front right tire wobbling as she speeds off down Old Eastern.
The bus soon arrives, or seems so, as the time flies, with idiot motorists whipping around, including to late model chargers drag racing down Stemmers Run.
We board, and the kindly, big man, in his early sixties, who pilots this run now, waves me off, tells me not to pay. Eunice takes a seat next to Big Head Tweet, who I have not seen in a couple of years and who does not recognize me in my present decrepit state. He is tall, gaunt—I made him fat in Planet Buzzkill, my end of the world sci-fi novel about the last ten people on earth being the misfits in the bus line that connects with this one. I'm glad he doesn't recognize me, he'd be upset at how rapidly I've aged. For his part, his perpetual five o'clock shadow is now speckled with gray.
It is nice to see that he and Eunice area acquainted, that she found one indigenous black man she can tolerate. Big Head Tweet is famous for his ability to predict a bus's actual arrival time—no mean feat in Baltimore—calculating driving conditions, the temperament of the driver manning the line, and various arcane factors. Sadly though, he has been replaced by a smart phone ap that gives the smart phone user up-to-the minute progress reports and ETA for each bus. He is sadly reduced to playing a game of solitaire bus predicting with the ap. As I sit, he sighs, as he looks at the ap, "Gosh darn, it beat me again. I was off by a minute and a half. Being off by a minute in a half in a twenty-minute world used to make me a genius. Now it makes me a footnote."
Eunice pats him lightly on the knees as she smiles indulgently up at him, his big round head shaking slightly in dismay as he gazes into the abyss held between his big brown hands.
I ring the bell and walk forward as the bus driver, veering into my offloading lane, suddenly brakes and banks left, a small sedan having run the red light from our right. He breathes a sigh of relief and declares, "He must wanna die to run that red light in front of this bus."
Looking up ahead, I notice that the erratic driver has put on his turning single for Kingston Road, and say, "Well, he is using his turn signal."
As the driver pulls over and I off load, Big Head Tweet chimes in behind me, "That is, in and of itself, a miracle. You know that only one in three Baltimore County motorists employ their turn signal."
A Fighter’s View of Predatory Aggression: The Forever Autumn Press Edition