SEVEN VERSIONS OF THE SAME VERSION
by Sam Pink
I sat next to an old man on the bus yesterday. Our legs touched. We sat still and silent for miles. A girl walked by us at a stop. The old man watched her pass and then nudged me. He motioned for me to look too.
"Whew! Huh?" he turned and smiled at me, face alive.
I tried to think of something to say.
"Yeah I know," I replied. "I'd sure love to bite off one her eyebrows and glue it to my upper-lip. I've always wanted a moustache."
He readjusted himself in his seat and we sat staring forward for the remainder of the ride.
The girl passed by and the old man elbowed me hard. Entreating me to look.
"Man, how bout it huh?" he said.
I smiled and nodded. Then I spoke loudly. "Yes I agree with what I think you are suggesting. I would love to have sex with that girl. I don't know who she is but I think we can both agree that we should think about her body and having sex with it. I am aroused. How about you? Are you aroused sir? Let's think about what we'd do. Let's think together."
The girl passed us and the man put his head in his hands. His head bounced in his lap with each subsequent turn and bump in the road.
The girl passed us. As she passed, she temporarily blocked the window I was looking at, and the field outside. I became angry because I remembered that I was on a bus going somewhere and that somewhere would probably require something of me and I would either know or not know how to do that something and whoever was there if even just me would judge me capable or incapable.
The girl passes and leaves the bus and walks down the street and I never see her again. She will not think about me as she walks down the street into the millions of paths we never choose in accord.
I am almost asleep when the bus rounds a corner and sunlight shoots through the window. The man next to me becomes rigid. He points to the cube-shaped piece of light on my shirt.
"Shit. Oh shit. Get it off. Quick!" he screams and leans back, pointing. The cube on my shirt grows. "Get it off--it's on you--get it off. Oh shit!"
He crawls backwards to avoid the sunlight. I lose sight of him as the cube covers my face.
"It's all over you--move! Please!"
His yells become more like pathetic whining and the whining gets wet between the stuttering muscles of his throat.
The girl walking by is just one part of an endless number of things.
I ignore the old man and the girl. I feel a steady ringing begin in my ears. I am conscious of the ringing. It is all I can sense. It quiets my steps as I get off the bus. Somehow I know it is my stop. I walk home. Somehow I know the steps. Someone is walking thirty feet behind me. I am afraid. But I shouldn't be. No one would want to kill me. I try to put the keys in my door quickly. The apartment is dark. I sit on my couch and worry about things that are not present. I let revolve in my head all the things I have to do, ultimately doing none of them until I begin to feel sleepy. I go to my room and lock the door. Halfway through the night I wake up. I do not fall back asleep. Instead, I watch with eyes half-closed as the window in my room becomes lighter. It is almost time to get back on the bus.