Of The Body part 5
“There is nothing like riding the bus in the city late night.”
Of The Body part 5
The clouds parted beneath him and he fell. Lurching into motion the bus jerked him awake. “Whoa, what!” tumbled out as he sat up suddenly. Glancing around, none paid him any attention; that was good. What a crazy dream, at least he hadn’t missed his stop. Lucifer was incredible, he moved so fast and still God was — the pricks of a thousand pins, his right hand was asleep. Rearranging himself for more seating comfort he massaged his unrespondent hand. It was definitely getting better. All the therapy and training were paying off — training, not even his sensie moved that fast; flexing his right, knowing how lucky he was to have it. Time is what the doctors had said, maybe years before his hand would get its feeling back, nerves were tricky things, and he was lucky to be alive, with the blood loss, wreck and all. Yeah, lucky. Everybody dies except for him. Lucky them, they didn’t have to answer all those questions. The cops wanted to lock him up, but his story held and there were a few witnesses, all saying it was a miracle that anyone survived.
A miracle, what the hell was his life about anyway? If God had some grand plan he had better get after it, hopefully before the calc test. Night school was tough and these long bus rides were exhausting. The time spent riding squeezed his days, nights, life. He watched the city go by, some out there certainly had it rougher than him, but hey, all he had was a shitty job with hopes of a better shitty job. Recovery had slowed down everything and limited the work he could do and jobs he could have, if he were to keep his disability payments. Some miracle. The memory of the pool surfaced bobbing in his minds-eye, the body. Lucifer was right.
The bus slowed to a stop swaying towards the curb. People boarded, quiet, keeping to themselves, night-shifters. At this hour more tired than anything else, most cared not to converse. It was always strange, this many people, this quiet, a rolling morgue. Just bus noises, the engine revving up revving down, the slap of the wire against the window followed by the ding, the squeal of brakes, the hiss and thump of the door, the shuffle of feet, the ping of change. Four more stops, a short walk and then some sleep, the end of an overly exercised routine.
Again the bus slowed to a stop swaying. Through the window he could see a few people preparing to board and about a half a block away two running hard. The one in front would make it no problem, the second only if they waited.
In the door up the stairs. “Go!” she yelled passing the driver panting, pressing into the narrow aisle, into the crowd.
“Hey, you didn’t pay,” the driver turning, rising from his seat. Focus drew on the commotion, the door remained open.
“You bitch,” the second runner landed atop the steps. The driver hastily retreated.
“Gun!! My God he’s got a gun!!!” A chorus of screams, yells, shrieks, grunts and groans erupted. Those standing pushed to the rear. Some seated tried to stand, adding to the rush. Some climbed over seats over people. The gunman advanced breathing fast and deep. The volume turned up.
The television seemed broken, images played in slow motion, he sat not moving. The girl passed, entangled in a mass of fleeing bodies. “Pahk,” “Pahk,” two fell dragging down others. Emergency windows gave way, people fell from sight.
The gunman approached.
“Pahk,” “Pahk,” the gun loud in his ear as it passed by. He stuck his foot into the aisle. The man in tow stumbled. Why had he done that?
“Pahk,” objected the pistol upon touching the floor.
“Dammit,” the gunman quickly gathered himself and stood. Leading with the gun he spun to fire.
Why had he done that? The barrel came around he slid forward out of sync. “Pahk,” fire burst in his shoulder. What am I doing? Strap sliced, the pack slid the length of his arm to his hand now in motion.
“Always a hero.” He continued the turn. This guy was fast but dead. “A dead fucking hero!” bringing the gun to bear.
The aisle was clear, the book-laden pack flew freely. He rose aided by the arcing bundle. “Pahk,” fire raced down his back.
“How the,” “whomp” the pack only slowed as the gunman’s head swiveled involuntarily. He fell caught up in the seats. Suddenly the gun was gone, lost to the seats and still swinging pack.
Driven by the just released load his arm swung, twisting and contorting his now limp falling body. Facing gum riddled seats and flickering fluorescents, pain kept him conscious.
A scream rang out.
“Get off me bitch,” the gunless gunman tore lose.
“Don’t let him go!” those that were left descended.
Rolling with effort to his side he witnessed the struggle. The gunman for survival, the mob for vengeance. Escape was not in question, they had him. No longer the aggressor, the man wilted under a flurry of blows. Through a barricade of shifting, kicking legs they made eye contact. The brutality of his pending death filled the man’s eyes with terror. Pleading with the unsympathetic jury the gunman went fetal.
“Stop,” nearly inaudible from his hands and knees. The pistol lay a few feet away, under a seat, he reached for it. “Stop!” standing, a seat for support in one hand, a gun for he didn’t know what in the other.
A few turned and backed away immediately, the rest soon followed. Confined by the seats and aisle they stood over the unmoving body.
“Why?” sirens covered his voice. Movement on his skin, blood flowing. Pulses of red colored his blurring vision. Wisps of chlorine seared his sinuses.
A low moan and movement from the heap at their feet.
The bus rocked.
“He ain’t dead,” starting a kick.
“No don’t!!” raising the pistol.
“Stop, drop the gun!” from the stairwell, weapon drawn.
Foot drove into body.
©Ted Washington 2009