The raunchy lust of the previous night was clinging to my skin like sweaty cotton. I couldn’t remember all that much and at that point in time I just wanted a shower. I always wanted to take a scorching hot shower at my own apartment after a one night stand. I’d try to scrub myself hard enough for all the dirty transgressions to wash away. But my loofah wasn’t made of steel wool, so it never really worked.
I was sitting on the city bus. It was super early in the morning, probably not even 6 am. I’d left the dude’s place when it was still dark out and waited for the bus several blocks from his complex for what felt like around an hour. Maybe a lot less time had passed than that, or maybe way more. It’s hard to be sure.
The guy lived in a shit hole. Not a cool shit hole, like in a dilapidated old brick building built in the early 1900’s or something. It was one of the newer, cheap apartment complexes where college kids go to find drugs. He lived in a small studio apartment. This straight-up bro hadn’t even attempted to decorate. All he had in the way of “décor” was one of those fold-out posters of a bikini model from a Sports Illustrated magazine. It was duck-taped to the wall above a trashy, bright red faux leather sofa. In front of the couch sat an awkwardly tall, narrow hexagonal bedside table with a tacky wizard incense holder sitting on it. He also had two wooden chairs meant for a kitchen table sitting on opposite sides of the couch. And he had a huge fucking TV with a few different gaming systems wired to it. Everything else was a grimy off-white. The walls, the carpet, the cheap textured ceiling. Just a fucking groddy beige.
I remember he already had his hands down my pants at the doorway as he fumbled for his keys with the other hand. We got in the apartment and he turned on some beaming ceiling lights which gave everything that they hit a sort of burning brightness and left the rest of the space shadowy. Still somehow everything had that awful icky yellow tone to it. Or maybe that’s just the way I’m remembering it. I asked him where his bed was. He retrieved an air mattress from the closet. It was pretty much deflated. I started cracking up. He laughed too and began pumping it up, stopping incrementally to fondle my breasts, and accidentally letting a good bit of the air out. We were both wasted. I realized this was all pretty absurd and suggested we forget about the air mattress.
Reflecting on all of that I unconsciously rubbed my knees with my fingertips and snapped back into reality. “Ouch!” I said out loud on the empty bus. Rug burns. I simultaneously became aware of a chill running across my body. It was the middle of summer and it was already pretty warm at the crack of dawn, or maybeit was lingering warmth from the previous day… the climate was pretty much always unbearably hot in August. The bus had that extra unnatural feeling air conditioning that came down from the ceiling in constant, numbingly noisy bursts of moist freeze. I realized in my shivering that I’d left a thin cardigan at that guy’s apartment. No matter how warm the forecast was, and I never knew what the forecast was, I always brought a sweater with me everywhere. It was a habitual comfort. I left it at that stranger’s house. I’d never see it again. “Damn it!” I thought to myself. I loved that sweater. It was one of my favorites. I’d forget about it, but in that moment I was fairly frustrated and a bit remorseful. Like maybe the sweater’s fate was to be left in that terrible apartment, as some sort of divine punishment for seeking meaningless intercourse with a douche bag.
So many years of Southern Protestantism rang in my skull like my head was a bell tower. I didn’t even really believe in God at that point, but I was still scared shitless of him.
For probably the first time ever, I desired the suffocating, often vile warmth of a crowded bus.
Sometimes a crammed bus frustrated me. I’d look around and instead of wondering how time had passed in the years of tired or fresh faces, I just blended them all together and saw only a homogenous blur of shapes. I’d sit in silence and try to tune out the chaotic mass of bodies and sounds, with a feeling of calming detachment. It all became a blanket that surrounded me without penetrating me, a sort of shadow of a blanket. Then other times I’d stare into the eyes of one or two specific people with a sense of yearning compassion and curiosity. On those days I was in a particularly elated mood, maybe after several cups of coffee. I’d strike up a conversation half-frantically, half-merrily with my stranger neighbor while maintaining an underlying hope that he or she would say a lot of fascinating things, but that it’d be left at that once one of us exited the bus.
In general I hated not having a car and kept to myself with an air of snobbishness on my daily uses of the city transportation system. People really grossed me out, especially in masses. That morning I wasn’t in my usual funk. If I had taken the energy to reflect on my usual self I probably would have felt annoyed. I was always analyzing my relationship to the world, but the “me” of that morning would have seen that all as a bullshit waste of time.
My head was aching so badly that I was glad for the silence, even though a part of me wished I could tune out my miserable state with a crowd.
It’s funny the way routine things take on a part of one’s life, take a sort of claim on one’s identity, even though routines are the least acknowledged parts of one’s self. Or at least they are for me. I guess more organized, planner-types are very conscious and obsessive about their routines. I have routines that go unnoticed but never change. Like my daily rides on the city bus. Riding the bus at a strange and unexpected hour led me to reflect on all the time I’d spent on public transporation vehicles. Hours and hours. I’m terrible at math, but I assumed a few weeks’ time got taken up by bus rides in a given year at least. I tried to think of specific times I’d ridden the bus and couldn’t think of any. Sure there were times where I’d spilt coffee on my blouse or had to take a shit so bad that I didn’t know whether or not I’d make it to work without a bout of incontinence, or maybe I’d spoken with someone fairly interesting, but still these were all just sort of vague paradigms of my bus rides, nothing concrete, no real, detailed memories of specific events. Not that memories are all that real anyhow…or I suppose they are real on some neuroscience level, but what they represent becomes kind of false once the past is over. Memories are important though I think. Maybe some sort of minor, yet life altering events had occurred on the city bus on certain days and I just couldn’t become conscious of them at that time. I decided to give up on this reflection. It was exhausting and a little upsetting. I give up pretty easily on thinking when I’m drunk. The fact that my head felt so blurred, not just achy, but also lazy and forgetful, made me aware of the fact that I was still pretty loaded.
Of all days, I was probably least prepared for something unexpected to happen. But I think that oddly made me the most prepared. I can’t imagine being constantly prepared for unexpected things to happen. That would simply put me on edge all of the time, and I don’t think being edgy is the right state for coping with unexpected happenings. Maybe those people that often have weird and/or bad shit happen to them, like those cursed-luck types, just get used to odd events and are simply always prepared without developing a high strung personality as a result. Maybe I was one of those types. People were always telling me I’d had a way weirder life than they. It never really felt all that weird, or as though I’d “been through a lot”. That’s mainly because any stuff I’d been through (assuming I remembered it) hadn’t really been all that unexpected. I’d always felt fairly in control of my fate. Like anything that happened to me generally happened as a result of very conscious decisions and actions on my part. Yet at the same time I was always fairly out-of-control in my decision making process.
My not so stellar choices on the the previous night exemplified this aspect of my character. I went to a shitty bar alone and ended up going home with some guy who liked football, cheap beer and marijuana. That wasn’t that weird though. I wanted to get laid and I wanted anonymity. We didn’t exchange numbers. There was no need for that even out of some sort of “this was clearly a one-night stand” courtesy.
But there I was, sitting on the empty bus. It was completely vacant aside from the driver and me. I was sitting in a seat about halfway to the back of the bus. I didn’t want to sit close enough to the driver so that conversing would seem like the natural thing to do, yet I didn’t quite see the point in walking all the way to the back either, considering the wide choice in seats. I kept rubbing my temples, my head was pounding horrifically.
All of the sudden, without being really aware of this reflex, I stretched out my legs because my feet felt a little numb crossed at the ankles and tucked so snuggly under my seat. My stomach, despite its rising feeling of nausea completely sank. I think I had taken a subconscious note earlier on of how the dusty floor of the bus felt on the bottoms of my feet, but hadn’t really analyzed this sensation further. Then it hit me that I had walked out of that guy’s house without my shoes. I looked at my boney feet and thought they looked pretty depressing with the back drop of a city bus. But I was only truly startled after my eyes traced the tops of my legs from my feet to my ankles, then up my shins, and finally above my knees… Fuck! I wasn’t wearing any pants. I was just wearing a gignormous fucking tee shirt which didn’t belong to me. It was like one of those horrific public nudity nightmares. I think there was an episode of that show Full House where DJ, the oldest daughter, dreamt she went to high school naked. I felt like a slutty DJ Tanner. I think my purse was the only thing I grabbed from that dude’s house. It was pretty bizarre that I didn’t realize this immediately after becoming aware my lack of sweater.
Yep. I was most certainly still drunk off my ass. And also not really all that awake. I didn’t know how much I’d really slept at that guy’s place. Probably not much. I couldn’t even remember leaving his apartment anymore.
I was only stunned and embarrassed for a very short period of time. I overcame the sensation effortlessly. I felt too shitty to really give a damn. The bus was vacant anyhow and all I could think about were the most immediate and basic of sensations. Like how cold I was and how much my head hurt, and yet how much worse it would hurt if the cold air wasn’t blowing down from the vent directly on it. My whole lady region was pretty absurdly sore too. I had no recollection of the night’s affairs beyond the unsuccessful air mattress inflation scene already described. It must have been pretty rough. Occasionally I fanned the bottom of the big shirt I was wearing up and down to let my privates breathe a little. Everything down there stung like hell.
As bad as my head was aching it simultaneously still felt pretty clouded. The parts that didn’t hurt like hell felt murky. My drunkenness was losing a battle to a very sobering hangover, and I desperately desired to postpone this situation. I reached for my oversized purse and unzipped the tampon pocket and pulled out one of those airport sized bottles of bourbon. I kept it there for emergency circumstances of a nature hopefully less absurd than this situation. I gulped it down and fairly quickly felt a little better, or I guess just a little drunker. Several moments later I became aware that I was laughing out loud. It took me a minute to recall what reflection had stimulated this giggling. Then I realized I’d been thinking about how I’d forgotten my shoes and pants and all of my clothes for that matter, yet I had managed to grab my big ass purse, and consequently some bourbon. I’d always been uptight about having my purse where ever I went. It was pretty obsessive. I could be black out wasted and still find my purse laying across my bedroom floor the next morning without even being able to recall how the fuck I got home.
I emptied out my purse onto the empty seat next to me to make sure I had all my shit. My cards, keys and i.d. were all there. Years after this I finally realized the beauty behind owning a wallet. I found a little mirror and pulled it out to look at myself, more out of boredom than my typical vain insecurity. My eyeliner was smeared under my eyes like charcoal. And the previous night’s mascara felt heavy on my eyes. Jesus. I was a hot mess. Still, while looking at my reflection, and tilting the mirror at different angles to check out my ratty hair and that stupid Panthers t-shirt, I found something kind of sexy about my appearance. Not even necessarily out of the context of public transportation. There was something even kind of hot about my situation. Somehow I was able to look at it objectively and just laugh at myself and how fucking low my self-esteem would be later. That made me kind of horny really.
I think I’m more embarrassed for myself now than I felt at the time. I just wanted to get home and get in bed. I wasn’t going to change out of my attire once I got in bed anyhow. Actually that get-up was going to feel good when I woke up from a long nap, versus the alternative of still having my bra and uncomfortable tight fitting clothes on from the previous night.
After a while the bus pulled over at a stop. It was still pretty dark outside but the sun was coming out a bit so there was a terrible glare of light burning into the bus. I put my elbows on my knees, curled my back downward and held my face in my hands. I really couldn’t stand the light. It was killing my eyes and making my skull want to shatter. I remained in that position as the bus pulled away from the stop and for a while after that too. What sounded like two men had hopped on. I didn’t perk up to look at them. Generally I’m a bit of an awkward people watcher. I don’t even really care if people are aware of my starring. But on that morning I didn’t want to remove my palms from face, nor did I particularly want to sit up at all. The men were speaking in a different language and the tone sounded pretty furious from both ends. They were loud and hard to ignore. I just sat there with my hands in my face and wanted to tell them both to shut the fuck up. What the hell could anyone be that upset about at the crack of dawn? I couldn’t remember the last time I expressed a lot of anger towards anyone like that so directly. I bet it felt pretty good. That sort of arguing seems futile though really. I could tell even with the language barrier that they weren’t getting anywhere with their discussion and were both just getting more angry. All of the sudden one was yelling at the top of his lungs with rage, while the other was crying out like a baby. I started to feel a little more invested in the situation, maybe even a little fearful. I finally took my face out of my hands and observed the scene. Right around the time that I looked up the noise had basically ceased. One of the men was lying across the aisle with blood gushing out of him. The other had darted to the front of the bus and was threatening the driver with the same bloody knife he’d used on his victim. She pulled the bus over and he grabbed at her little door opening handle thingy to let himself off.
I remained seated for a minute or two, maybe even five. I wasn’t particularly upset or astonished or anything, I just wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do. By the time I felt compelled to get up and make a move the stabbed guy was clearly dead. I stepped over his body and headed towards the front. The driver had fainted and was drooped down in her seat. She had a huge girth and her belly was holding her up between the seat and the massive steering wheel. I observed the driver’s chest. She was breathing. I starred at her for a moment or so. Her eyes began opening and shutting and I jetted. I really couldn’t focus on anything but how fucking sick I felt so I just abandoned the bus and began walking home. I was pretty broke at the time and had stopped paying my cell phone bill. I’d call 911 from my roommate’s phone when I got home.
The walk to my apartment from that point was probably a forty-five minute long trek. I didn’t have the energy to move quickly. I just sort of strolled without thinking about much of anything. Mainly I focused on how my bare feet felt against the various concrete and paved textures they crossed. Sometimes I’d sway over into yards when my feet were burning. There was still dew on the grass and it felt good. I thought about all the other feet that had walked those sidewalks and about all the gum, dried up beer, slowly disintegrating used condoms and animal mess that laced my path. I wasn’t grossed out by any of it. In fact the bottoms of my feet were in a sort of harmonious accord with my disheveled appearance and there was a certain level of comfort in feeling fully, not just partially, disgusting. I was entirely a walk of shame, and there was a humor in it all that eased my walk home.
One thing I’ve learned over time is that we are all enthralled by the suffering of others to a sick extent. That’s a truth. So on later reflection I felt pretty inhuman for not having the slightest curiosity in regards to the stabbing.