Springfield and Vine: Notes from a Bus Ride

The persistent hum of the recycled air is the base level of audio on the 78 Lincoln Heights Metro bus. Along with a wave of cold sterile air, the hum sits beside your ears from entry to exit.

St. Bernard sits desolate. It's 3pm and already closing time on a weekday.
The sounds of South Vine Street permeate the walls of this traveling ice box. Some passengers enter if only to rest from the hot cement, sweat gathering in small beads against their skin. Sidewalk glances on each passing stoop. Rumbling wheels beneath my feet. Compressed air exhaling with each abrupt stop.

I sit each day pacified by this broken idleness.
The voices of Vine float above the others. The elderly men who sit across from me shout exasperated complaints at one another. Sons both in prison, they're been left to care for their grandchildren and newly inherited daughters. They ask each other what went wrong.

The smaller of the two holds his head tiredly.

"Man, I gave up blamin' myself a long time ago...you can only do so much for them. I loved 'em, I made them go to school. Tha's bout all a loving father can do."

The other man sits back and sighs, he's told himself the same thing but it never seems to pacify his guilty conscience.

Paddock and E Ross Ave. Stop Requested

"Now I'll tell you somthin'. These men don stay with their women. That's the problem. They got that wanderin' eye. And when they start messin' roun, they start gettin' into trouble. That's where it all starts right there."

The smaller man looks out the window pondering the thought, "I've been with my girl Jackie since I was 13."

"Really," the other man says, "Tha's so great! Aw man, tha's real cool man. She's ya baby girl!" The two men exchange congratulatory handshakes. Their hands linger in place as he repeats himself, "Tha's so great. Aw tha' just the nicest."
They both laugh loudly to themselves, they seem to have attracted an audience.

W. Wyoming Ave Zone 2 Boundary

The earth outside the window is silently listening, its placid movements careful not to disrupt conversation. The wheels on the bus push forward, making my movements lurching and my handwriting unkempt.

Lockland & Shepherd Stop Requested

Both men embrace and exchange hand shakes, "We had a beautiful conversation. Beautiful. I love you little man."

Little man exits while the other sits silent for the first time, a content smile spread across his face. The voices of Vine are never silenced. A new conversation begins soon after and the audience secretly tunes in to its frequency.
Stop sign after stop sign, brake lock and release, we lurch forward as one.

Springfield & Charlotte My Stop Request

I exit absent mindedly and quickly turn to watch the Metro chug away, as if to catch a vagrant piece of missed conversation. I walk home silently, but my mind is running.

Austin Dressman hasn't been around a lot lately and feels pretty awful about that.


eliza.e.campbell said...

New version of "I'm On A Boat" called "I'm On A Bus". I will make this happen.

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