Music came from across the aisle. I wasn’t easily offended, but I was hyper aware. The spring clip that kept my sour cream and onion chips closed was a yellow duckie.
“What?” she said.
“Would you like to borrow these?” I asked. I had them in my hand. Earbuds. Practically new. Not a trace of ear wax.
“What?” she said.
I had the bulletproof vest on. I always wore it on the bus. It was surprisingly comfortable, but that’s not why I wore it. I got up to stretch my legs. I walked to the back of the bus. The seat there was like a couch, like something you’d find at the dump. I knelt on the seat and looked out the window. I made a face that made the kid in the car behind us smile.
“Hey!” the driver shouted.
I pushed back the hood on my hoodie so everyone could see what was carved into my skull. I was unarmed unless you counted the knife. I took loud strides to the front of the bus. I leaned in.
“When’s the next stop?” I asked. “My travel-size Ban Roll-On ran out.” I leaned in closer.
“The moon is a sad dream,” the driver said.
“Maybe, in a way.” I tried to be nice.
“The moon is a sad dream,” the driver repeated.
I leaned in still closer. I looked out the windshield. I saw a mountain on the horizon. Above the mountain was a sad moon. It was like a dream. The driver pulled a lever. The door opened. He pushed me out onto the highway. He swerved the bus to get me under the back wheels, but we were going too fast, and the bus wound up on its side in a ditch.
The car behind us stopped. Next thing I knew, the kid had a toy gun pointed at my head.
“When a storm cloud falls in love with whisps of chimney smoke it’s hard for us to understand,” the kid said.
My cell phone rang. I answered it.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“Potential Spam,” was the reply.
“There are stars so far away their light hasn’t reached us yet,” the kid said. A fly landed on the gash in my forehead. “If you kill a fly, you come back as a starving baby covered in flies,” the kid said.
The kid, if it was a kid, made a grab for my potato chips. I show him the knife.
Dan Nielsen’s website is: https://dadanielsenpo.com/