An LA Bus Ride... (w/one bad word) by D. "Darteo" Sommese
Yes I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving and with some blood relations as well. It was a joy up there in Los Gatos. The last day it got cold and it rained, which was also a joy. The rain followed me home and the winter storm cycle seems to have started early here in Southern California. Normally it doesn't rain until January.
On the flight home I met an interesting young woman who liked to talk, so the trip went rather quickly. She lived in Topanga Canyon, here in the Santa Monica mountains near Malibu. She was a metal sculpturist. Man could she talk. I was glad she was so loquacious. Nothing stopped her not even the rough weather and the bumpy flight. She talked on while I turned green and got the sweats. I am the worst when it comes to motion sickness. Then to make matters worse the drive-up ramp broke down and we were all held captive on the plane while it filled with diesel exhaust. I was sick as a dog and really glad to get the hell off that plane.
I never say no when someone asks me for a favor, but I know how Los Angelino's hate to pick people up from the airport, so I did the unthinkable. I not only took the city bus, but I did it at 11:00 PM at night, which is unheard of in this city of stray bullets. I was lucky to meet an African American woman who was going my way and knew all there was to know about the bus route I would need to travel on to get to my apartment. To say the least it was quite an adventure.
The first bus had a contingent of African American boys cutting up loudly in the back of the bus, reminiscing about prison. The night was inky black as we crossed the desolate salt marshes that will be the home of the new Dream Works film studios. Those boys in the back of the bus were having a high old time talking about the good old days in the "joint". I must admit that I was a bit relieved when they got off the bus.
We left the salt marsh and crossed over to brightly lit Marina Del Rey, as we proceeded North West down Lincoln Blvd passing through funky Venice, on our way to the beach city of Santa Monica. At Venice Blvd we were to change busses and proceed East on palm tree lined Venice Blvd. The bus would continue all the way to the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
The bus driver must have had balls of steel, I thought to myself. Only a mad man would flirt with this kind of danger at this time of the night. It takes one to know one I guess. . The African American woman, who acted as my guide, may have been an angel in disguise. She seemed a bit leery of me at first, but after I sincerely thanked her for her help when we got off the first bus, she opened up to me while we were waiting for the second bus to come.
She was a rather large woman and dressed down, so it was hard to tell if she was a homeless person or not. She used a cane, but did not seem to be much past her mid forties. I guess keeping up a tough exterior served as some sort of protection for her. I asked her why she was not afraid to be traveling that late at night on her own. She told me she thought she could be in just as much danger in her own living room. Living here in LA, I could understand her reasoning. She was an avid bingo player and she was on her way home from a bingo game. I really admired her courage. We were old friends by the time the second bus came. She told me that the second bus would be filled to capacity with Latino restaurant workers on their way home after working at the restaurants in Santa Monica. She also advised me not to bother with the front door of the bus, because of the crowd we would never get on. So I jumped in the back door with her and got a spot for me and my bags near the door. She knew these busses like the back of her hand. We were the odd couple and the Latino boys lit up when they saw us coming in the back door, thinking we were sneaking on the bus without paying, but we had transfers in our pocket. The bus driver was the last to care.
On a Friday night at midnight, there were bound to be a few drunks on the bus and one black man in his 50's looking kind of tattered, was raving and doing the drunken talk thing, bitching and moaning at his female traveling companion, who seemed to be about the same age. Most of what he said was incomprehensible except for the word (sounds like) 'mudderflocker*' which stumbled and slobbered out every other word. My "angel" seemed embarrassed that it was one of her people making all the noise. The black guy's wife, or whatever, kept trying to calm him down, but that only made him mumble the more.
I was the only white guy on the bus dressed like a 'dude'. I could not have looked more out of place if I had a red blinking light on my head. My "angel" looked up at me and said, "Some words should be stricken from the English language", obviously referring the the overuse of the MF word. I was not offended, I think I was enjoying this little adventure that put me in the middle of a bunch of people that I would not normally ever be with. One by one the Latino boys got off the bus as we got closer to my stop. Then a big white guy in his 50's got on the bus with a head full of snow white hair. He looked like a big Irishmen. He was drunk as a skunk and bellowed a big hello to everyone on the bus when he got on. I, feeling a little crazy, said a big hello back, as the Latin boys that were left on the bus, got a big laugh at how strange the ride was getting. The mumbling black guy perked up and stopped saying 'mudderflocker*' at this point and looked over the white guy real good.
The big white Irish looking guy announced in his big voice, that he was 57 years old and he did 2 tours in Vietnam. The black guy could relate to this and mumbled something about his tour in Vietnam. The two started shaking hands and laughing like they were 2 old war buddies. The bus stopped at every corner and the Latino boys got off the bus one be one. The white guy announced again in his booming voice that at the next stop he was going to buy everybody on the bus a drink, which got another laugh out of the Latino boys still on the bus. The black guy liked this idea and went one better and invited us all to his house for a drink. His female companion protested a bit, but I think she also was relieved that he stopped saying 'mudderflocker*', so she just sat there with that weary look a woman gets on her face, when she thinks about the mess all these boys were going to make in her house.
One of the Latino boys still left on the bus, pulled a flask out of the inside of his jacket and passed it over to the white guy and the black guy. Jesus!....Was I really in Los Angeles, the city where no one ever talks to one another? I looked at my "angel" and smiled, both of us knowing how crazy the world can be. I could not believe I was on a filthy, graffiti filled, piss smelling bus, and I was seeing some real brotherhood going on!
My "angel" got off the bus, her big round brown face flashed me a smile that meant "have a good life." My stop was next and I left the Latino, the black guy and the white guy to their newly found friendship and walked the four blocks to my 'home-sweet-home' apartment, with my bag slung over my shoulder, feeling like the vagabond I truly am. A light rain began to fall, which proves the old saying, "rain is a blessing from heaven."
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