Gas. Brake. Gas. Brake.
One hand turns the other’s wheel. Jeremy spent most of his light-blue clad life repeating these motions over and over again. The days ran together, drifting between eighty-first and a hundredth street, from one building to the next. The rattling of change rang out an endless tune with a cheerful clink, a jangling clank and an ominous clunk.
He yawned away his first run.
Tracks passed under the bus. As he pulled the wheel around, he glanced at the train he passed during each loop of his route.
“At least,” he thought, shaking his head, “I’m not driving that thing. He never leaves the track.”
Jeremy got to lead his bus. It turned when he willed it to. If the mood struck him, then he could rocket off down twenty-second avenue and burst from the cityscape into the wilderness beyond; his passengers too shocked to question their wild-eyed driver.
His vision rolled over the indigo bus-pass clutched in the hands of the lady-in-the-red-wool-hat. As soon as fall hit, on went that hat and Jeremy could count on her bearing the pervasive smell of wet wool in the early AM.
Out went the handle and the doors with it.
A scarf and a headband with blue eyes that held a stark contrast to the dark-brown material. Jeremy smiled, he was very observant when it came to clothing. It was one of the few interests he could pursue on the bus.
The transfer came away easily in his hand and clumsy mitts fumbled to grasp the flimsy piece of paper.
Blurs clanked and drifted past.
Jeremy’s head ripped to the left. What was that depression in the snow? It kind of looked like a person. A dark and oblong something shot through his vision of a smooth snow bank. Shaking his head to clear it, he continued on.
Brake. Gas. Brake.
His heart leapt slightly. A baggy sweater and a black ski-mask stomped through the doors.
The sweater wobbled to the back and plopped into a window seat. The executioner un-hooded and the tense thrill shook itself out through Jeremy’s foot.
Gas. Brake. Gas. Bump. Clack.
There it was again. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure it was a person. He’d been by twice now. Who lies in the snow that long? Was he or she okay? If they were, they wouldn’t be for long.
No, he told himself. It was just some trash.
Indigo. Clank. Stomp. Stomp.
He’d seen a hundredth street three times today and that meant it was time to grab a bite to eat.
As his lips smacked through the taste of sour apple and ham, he surveyed his motley crew. Nothing too unusual. For some reason, it was important to him that the coats, scarves and gloves were recognizable. Not exact, but close enough. He never looked at faces, only clothes, but not being able to see their faces still bothered him. Why? A small frown momentarily furrowed his brow.
Gas. Bump. Clack.
Right! His head swiveled ahead of time. He still wasn’t sure. He should stop and check. Over and over the scene ran through his head. What was it?
Polymer-plastic boot touched pedal. Just a quick look. Again, the scene played.
No! Garbage. Besides, he’d be late if he stopped. What if it attacked him, drugged and delusional as it might be. But, what if? Someone could be dying…
Indigo. Clink. Indigo. Clank. Violet. Clunk.
He couldn’t stop wondering, but he couldn’t stop, either. He would, though. He should. On and on the bus rolled through its twisting, jerking ballet.
Bump. Clack. Stuck on the rails, poor guy.
So much momentum and nowhere to go.
Another stop, another glimpse. Cold swirled through the door with boots and mitts. On played his swishing, clanking theme. This time he almost chuckled as his foolishness as he approached the disjointed, black form.
Aaaand…. There is was, again. He was sure it was garbage. He’d almost slammed his foot down. Almost… but he had people waiting… No, not now.
The day faded away gradually and with it his morning daydream of the wild-eyed bus-driver.