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Well of the Damned #2
Diridon Station Thru-Bus Stop, San Jose, California: April 26-27, 2023
© 2023 James LaFond
I sat the wooden bench, feet up until I dozed, and then stood and paced and stretched and did waist rolls and side bends.
Yo stood to my left, or sat the concrete deco wall, or placed his handbag on the curb, his feet in the gutter and reclined in crab-like comfort.
Pinky Blacktina wandered about to the various lone camps of the massive bus turn around lot, asking for a light.
Young Jemima sat to my right, on the concrete deco wall, on the other side of the pay phone.
A black hare grazed just beyond the iron fence behind me, sillouetted in the train yard lights, great black ears suspicious in the night.
Shirt Head tramped around in his wife beater and cargo shorts, still jealous of Kid Rock.
Little Dog Woman wandered about seeking a perfect camp site, her golden lab with pink bandanna obediently following on a pink leash.
A woman, did, and would ever through the night, call out from somewhere, in a harsh smoker’s voice so ragged that age or race was not determinate, “Louis!”
No more buses or trains ran.
Angry Wigger Wayne lurked down the way looking jealously at the wooden bench I was on, threatening the sky, but afraid to approach Yo or I.
Beyond the first bus shelter to the left stirred the sidewalk camper, a big, fat, young black man with copious braids and deep orange and green neon sweats and sneakers.
In the nearest center bus shelter a mated pair dwelt in the wedding suite shell. He was a small bald man of 30, 40, or 60, forever smoking a glass pipe reclining on the concrete walk, so that it glowed like a tiny camp fire buffeted by mountain winds. She was a tall, blond, square-headed viking bitch in a wife beater. She occasionally howled something raspy and indistinct at the uplifting planes, passing cars and ambling campers, all of whom gave her a wide berth.
The occasional plane lifting off, lit the sky.
A police car was ever seen parked in the distance, never coming near enough to see more than its top lights.
I was getting cold, a bag of bones grown suddenly old.
On the bench I dosed, being taken by the cold, my feet almost warm, permitting gathering sleep.
Stones rattled and woke me.
Back to Nod I went.
More stones rattled, scattering on the wide side walk and woke me.
I looked around. Behind me was Young Jemima, holding small landscaping stones in her hands, which she had been casting at the big metal trashcan where the Latina had left her plate. She looked at me and smiled.
I went back to sleep, gathering my hood close.
The aluminum shell of the pay phone behind me clanged from a stone and I woke and sat up, looking straight ahead.
Young Jemima asked me, “Sir, you have a light.”
“Please, sir, you have a light?”
“Sorry, miss, don’t smoke.”
I looked at her and she dropped her remaining stone and patted the concrete next to her, a mimed suggestion that I sit there. I stood and began pacing in small circles.
Pinky Blacktina walked by, asking for a light and Young Jemina barked, “No bitch!” and Pinky Scampered on.
Shirt Head was walking by smoking a blunt and Young Jemima asks, “Yo, can I have a light?”
“You can’t have it, but you can light it from my hand.”
“Come ‘ere en sit,” she beckons, a plump siren of night.
“Naw, come ‘ere en fire up. I gots a car ta detail.”
He gives her a light and walks off as the Viking Bitch screams, “Walk the fuck around,” and he does, giving the aluminum cave of Norns a wide berth.
Young Jemima looks at me, sashaying seductively, as she sucked on a cigar and whispered, “Wanna smoke, sir?”
“Thank you, Miss, no.”
She sat down in a huff, wrinkled her wide brown nose, and put out her cigar. She then looked past me as Yo [who she here named] as he walked out to the bus sign and looked around, “Yo, you got a light?”
He shakes his head, ‘No,’ giving me the look, ‘I careful too, Old School.’
She then says, “Yo, come sit,” wiggles her ample ass under its florid dress, and winks.
He walks over, past me, to her, glancing at me and shrugging his shoulders almost in apology. Before he can sit she stands, takes his hand, and marches him over to the bus shelter to my left. They disappear within.
The sound of someone sitting down hard on the wood bench is heard. He moans. He moans as if he is dying. He moans louder, like the dead being risen to the pain of the living. His white sneakers with feet still in them, slide out past the opaque side of the rectangular aluminum alcove and begin to shake, shiver, quake and quiver as he moans into the night. At last his feet are still, then withdrawn.
Young Jemima emerges from the shelter, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and tying a scarf around her copious mop of hair as she walks to the trash can, gets the plate of food, winks at me as she eats, and walks to the concrete deco wall where Yo had been sitting, and where he was now returning, a cagey creature domesticated in an instant.
I suppose that was matrimony of a sort and brought peace to that small corner of dystopia.
Little Dog Woman emerged from the darkness down to the left, comes right to me, 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, 35 years of age, her dog eagerly sniffing my boots, and asks, “Sir, may I share this bench with you.”
“Of course, miss.”
She sits and arranges her luggage like a fort on her side and curls up next to me, “What was that parade about?”
“Don’t know. Just passing through.”
She looked up at me in hurt disappointment, gathered her things, rose, and headed for one of the less comfortable metal benches/bike racks to the right. Her dog does not want to leave me, but sulks away after her. They soon make a fort on the metal rack-bench and curl up, he as her coiled, golden-furred pillow.
Manila Trench, a light-skinned quadroon, in beige trench coat, over a black business dress, well coiffed hair, who could be Candice Owens’ stunt double, a cute woman of 35, steps up onto the side walk from the great street. She is holding a black leather purse and a large manila envelope, out of which protrude various tabbed manila folders, as if she were an NAACP secretary from 1956 reporting for work, at this bus stop, at 2:30 AM.
Everyone seems to know her. None speak to her. She is not lost or waiting, simply standing like a sisterly sentinel, as if overseeing a class for the absent teacher.
The homely, emaciated woman sleeping in the trash bags, rises under the lights of the station alcove, comes to her, presents a cigarette butt, and Manila Trench silently lights it.
A still cute, once hot, 35 year old bleach blond comes across the lot from the great street, “Hey, has anybody seen a red 74 Mustang? I was supposed to meet my husband here!” Her voice bespoke the crack whore of yore, a once cute cadence now eroded on the belt sander of life’s fast lane. 5’ 4’, 110 pounds, well built, and yet unattractive on account of her worn voice.
Manila Trench stepped between the two women as Young Jemima rose to prevent her rival from getting access to Yo or Sir [me].
Young Jemima: “He ditched you, bitch.”
OnceHotNowNot: “How can you talk to me like that?”
Young Jemima: “Like this, dumb bitch, with your bitch ass husband.”
OnceHotNowNot: “You don’t even know who I am!”
Young Jemima: “You a dumb-ass bitch, is who you is!”
OnceHotNowNot: “You better think about who you are talking to like that.”
Young Jemima: “You about to be a whooped-ass dumbass bitch!”
Train Engineer in yard: “Girl fight! Girl fight!”
Manila Trench: “Would you like a light, miss.”
OnceHotNowNot: “Oh, thank you, thank you so much. Please, have you seen my husband. He just wouldn’t ditch me.”
Young Jemima: “A course he would, dumb fuck bitch!”
OnceHotNowNot, turning away and looking at Manila Trench: “Thank you so, much miss. I have to find Tony.”
Off she walked, stiffly, smoking like a fiend that did not yet know it occupied the lower plane of Dys.
Viking Bitch yelled at her, “Keep goin’ bitch!”
Young Jemima and Viking Bitch were warding against this more attractive woman contacting their men.
Then, something came, on pixie feet, that struck every one of us with fear and quieted even the shrill sirens of this shadowed hell…
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