April 30, 2015

A Book Worth Reading Redux

This is based on an actual event. 


Some years ago,
I read a book on a bus,
headed to a job I hated.
I have since quit the job and finished the book.
I still ride the bus from time to time.

It was a good book,
as I remember.
Its cover was fine,
its print sharp and clear,
and sized to be carried without hassle.

It was sunny that day.
Perhaps it was summer.
I rode at rush hour,
reading my book,
which page I do not remember.

It occurred to me then,
this rush hour bus,
loud with conversation,
had quieted sharply and strangely so,
with nary an explanation.

This kind of quiet one does not welcome,
even while reading a book worth reading.
So, I put down my book and I looked and I listened,
to the bus that was no longer speaking.  

Two men,
sitting opposite each other,
were engaged in “conversation.”
One yelled terribly,
the other made faces.
It was an unusual situation.

Now had they been four, or six, or ten,
no one would have noticed.
No ear would they offend.
But they were old enough to know better.
Old enough to know they should act old enough.

The faces of the “Facer” were varietal and spontaneous –
kissy, scrunchy, a tongue sticking out.
Made to a baby they were cute and endearing,
drawing squeals of laughter or excited cheering.

But the “Yeller” receiving them was no baby.
He did not squeal and laugh.
He was not excited and did not cheer.
Facer’s “cute” faces poked and prodded him.
And he spit back profanity;
spit back anger and fear.

I didn't know who started it.
And didn't care to investigate.
I couldn't read my book.
And no one else could much concentrate.

Yeller’s yells were yelling louder.
Facer’s faces were face-ing faster.

I looked to the driver to intervene,
but he held himself quiet –
not a word, not a glance.
He drove his bus in determined ignorance.

So I folded the corner of the page I was reading
and made my way forward,
weaving and squeezing,
past the stolid riders of the tomb-like bus,
to step into the yelling and face-ing of the two-man gust.

Once positioned directly between them,
forcing their looks ‘round me to see ‘em,
I reopened my book and pretended to read.
Never once did I glare.
Never once did they stare.

Now, Yeller did not stop,
and Facer did not either.
There was more yelling and face-ing.
More spitting and egging.

But not for long.

Soon the yelling grew less and quieted.
Soon the faces grew less, exhausted.

And the bus’ quiet became loud again.
And the conversations banal again.
I found my rightful place upon the page,
and could even read my book again,
undistracted and engaged.

It was a good book,
as I remember.

One worth reading.

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