Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bus stop

It was a bus stop only by technicality; there were no benches, no shelter - just a couple of signs bolted to a wooden utility pole that bristled with electrical boxes and that served as support for half a dozen cables. The wood of the pole was shredded and splintered, and scabbed with thousands of staples from a generation's-worth of posters that had been posted on its ragged surface - lost pets, garage band shows, used furniture for sale.

The two signs that marked the spot as a bus stop were a dirty industrial white; the top identified the location as a Municipal Transportation Authority Bus Stop and the lower, in brick-red type, spelled out the schedule - every twenty minutes starting at 6:15 a.m. and running to 10:45 p.m., 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The bus stop was located in front of a small cluster of businesses near the college campus. One could step into a donut shop for coffee while waiting for the next arrival, or step next door for a soda or souvenir t-shirt from the small market there. Kevin usually had a large styrofoam cup filled up to the flimsy plastic to-go lid with cheap, bitter donut-store coffee, lightened with a dash of powdered creamer. He would wait for the bus, the 7:15 if he were running on time, the 7:30 if he were late. He would lean against the jagged wood of the pole or, if the weather threatened, would stand against the brick wall of the market, lacquered by years of car exhaust, taking shelter under the tattered awning.

Kevin usually waited alone. Not many others took the 7:15 to where he was going, though sometimes an older woman in a sensible uniform (the kind women wore at cafeterias that catered to geriatrics) would be there, intensely reading a celebrity magazine. Kevin and the woman had never spoken, never so much as exchanged a glance.

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