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Monday, March 17, 2014

Beardist

The city bus smells like candy corn and urine as I climb aboard
Bracing myself against a metal pole in the aisle as the bus starts rolling before I can sit down
I can see that there is only one seat

One hard plastic blue seat with dicks and phone numbers drawn on it

And it's right next to this guy
Who is not looking at me
But is totally looking at me
With his head inclined like he is looking out the window and forward
But with his eyes darting back and forth from the window to me

Sitting there in an outfit that looked like he raided a 1970's wedding cast-off heap

His legs are crossed
In that way that only really skinny people can cross them
With thighs tight together
And the crossed leg hanging right down next to the one planted on the floor

I'm jealous of those kinds of people
People with a real nice air gap between the thighs

As my ass is heading past the point of no return on it's way to the seat
I see a big black thing around his ankle
The one that is partly hidden
And bouncing gently with the movement of the bus

I stare at it for a moment
And a little red blinking LED stared back at me from the thing

After moment I realize that it's one of those tracking things
The ones that people on parole from jail have to wear
And it makes me a bit  uncomfortable
Makes me wish I'd just have decided to stand up all the way home
But now I was down
And I wasn't getting back up dammit

His yellow polyester pants brushed my knuckles accidentally
Making me look down
Then back up at him
Where our eyes locked
And I could see the sweat on his forehead
All the more strange in this almost too cool bus interior

He swallowed a few times
Almost like he was going to speak to me
But instead he fished a cel phone out of his matching yellow polyester jacket
Pressed a button
And held it up to his face

Someone must have picked up
Because he started talking
In a low but not too low voice
Secretive but not too bloody secret

"Frank, it's me
Yeah
I'm getting one of those urges again"
Then he paused
Listening to whatever Frank was telling him
All while I was edging myself as far away from him as my hard plastic seat allowed me

Frank's advice seemed to have been doled out
"Ok
I'll ask him"

With that
The creepy guy in the disco night cast-off turned to me

"Hey, um, man......"
I waited for him to get it out
Whatever it was
Trying not to lock eyes with him completely
Instead focusing upon his blackhead infested nose

"I need to touch your beard for about five seconds"
He blurted out almost as one word
After which he looked down at his pants
Where his hands nervously fingered one another obscenely

The bus was still packed
And half the other passengers were watching us
Some openly
Others not

My beard?

At the very thought my own right hand came up to touch the whiskers on my cheek
Walking down a path in my mind where I told him no
And he sat there quietly
Ticking down
Until he exploded in some sort of manic episode
That involved everyone on the bus in a most disagreeable way

What could it hurt?
I decided
Maybe it's part of his therapy

"Sure
For a few seconds if you want"
And I turned my face to him
Just in time for both of his hands to dart from his lap to my beard
Like little flesh colored beard seeking missiles
Where his fingers buried themselves in the four inch hair along my jawline on both sides of my face
Moving themselves gently in the dense off-brown almost red forest
Like a child exploring a bowl of pudding for the first time with his digits

The man's head was bowed as he did this
His lips counting slowly to five

One Mississippi
Two Mississippi
Three Mississippi
Four Mississippi
Five Mississippi

And then he was done
Instantly pulling his hands free
And pulling the cord to tell the bus driver he needed to get off at the next stop
Which came in about another fifteen seconds

Those seconds where I was still staring at him
Feeling strangely violated

The bus came to a halt
The man said "Excuse Me"
As he went  by me
And was gone

Leaving me alone on my graffitied blue plastic seat
Feeling the eyes of everyone upon me

I picked up my backpack and hugged it to my chest
Smashing my beard into the top of it
Staring out the window
Trying to make sense out of things