No Flats

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Eight

This human traffic cone was standing in front of the rear door, and as the other bus riders maneuvered around him to squeeze their way out, they swung their colossal, overstuffed backpacks and reusable shopping bags filled to the brim with soup cans and various other blunt objects manslaughteringly close to my head. At every stop, the overcooked galoot would lean to the side—opening up an entire four inches for someone to pass by—and give me a dazed grin as if our sheer proximity had forged an unbreakable bond between brothers. And so, with every pullcord ding, I’d slide one of my drumstick bones deep into the pocket of his puffy anorak.

After sixteen stops, apparently sated with restricting egress for dozens of his fellow citizens, he shot me one last gee shucks toothy half smile and hopped off the bus, dopily unaware of the cartilage and gristle scraping against each other in his left-hand pocket.

At this point, I had eaten nearly half the chicken in my satchel, and at a pace of one drumstick per two city blocks no less. Of course I was belching. From the moment I took my seat, the young nurse sitting next to me had been giving me sidelong glances, and now she was staring out the window, sighing pointedly and obviously. As with dawdling and general imbecility, this city has a major problem with rubberneckers constantly inserting themselves into other people’s concerns. I’ve long sent weekly petitions demanding the mayor and council look into this, or at minimum, change the motto of this once-great Gotham to bonum morit cum malae vitae: morality languishes where depravity thrives. Alas, the bureaucratic gears of our democracy grind slowly if at all, and so as the surly nurse shook her head and texted this hot breath mf on the bus next to me is eating buffalo wings out of his briefcase tosomeone named Ronnie, her parka hood steadily amassed a heap of sucked-clean drumstick bones.

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