The 139 by John Trivisonno

John Trivisonno
From Vol. 1 No. 4, 1998

the 139 (in 1986) On rare occasions, I used to ride the 139 and when I did, I would make my bus-ride analysis of all the characters on board. That bus was like a dented tin can filled with the wrong kind of fish… Sitting in the back seat: I can tell that the guy bracing himself on the seats near the back door has been drinking since early this morning. His pants still have the pleats in them and they don’t match the rest of his wrinkled clothes… glassy eyes… red face with a tanning salon tan… the blood pulsing through the veins in his head. He is clutching coffee in a styrofoam cup and has the worst kind of tabloid tucked under his arm… anxiously awaiting his stop so that he can get off and vomit on the sidewalk. A few seats away, two fourteen-year-old girls… giggling, mangling their bus passes; one of them holds a large hairbrush. They still wear Farah Fawcett, shopping-center hairstyles. Maybe I should try to fix them up with the two acne-covered thugs sitting near me on the back seat. They look like rejects from a junior motorcycle gang… holding heavy metal albums… attempting to read the English lyrics on the inner sleeve and failing miserably. A classier-looking—yet still undeniably white trash—woman comes in and sits down with me and all the other bargain basement types. She takes off her sunglasses… I notice that someone, probably an old boyfriend with a chromosone defect, has left her with one good eye… The 139 never changes much. It’s probably still the bus with the worst people on board. They’re all strange characters but there’s nothing attractive, interesting or appealing about any of them. When an old guy sitting on a nearby seat would sneeze or cough, it was repulsive, not funny—like when old Louis used to choke on coffee, sitting at the counter in Gaby’s store. …the guy next to me looks like Gilles Vigneault and I keep my sunglasses on as I stare at a woman’s legs…