Usually we catch a 4 southbound to our neighborhood, but if we're early enough the 6A is still running. Where all the other 6-buses turn right from Hennepin onto 36th St, the 6A turns left onto 36th and heads toward our house. The route technically stops there but as a matter of courtesy I ask the driver if I can ride a few more blocks. Most drivers are cool with this--only one gave me a dirty look and acted like I was inconveniencing him but grudgingly permitted me to ride.
There was just this one sketchy character in the back of the bus tonight. The bus was crowded so we were forced to sit next to him, one of young, vain types who takes up a lot of room by spreading his legs. This is a power play as well as a suggestion as to the girth of his testicles. He was dressed in oversized clothing, which was a large white starchy baseball cap, a yellow-and-blue plaid buttoned shirt, and acid-washed blue jeans that rode below his hips. I was immediately on guard; Rebecca noticed nothing.
We left downtown and went into Uptown. People mostly left, a few got on, and as seats opened up we were able to sit slightly ahead of where we were: rather than sitting next to the man of inner-city fashion, we were seated directly ahead of him. I was pretty sure that he'd get off around Lake St., being the other center of activity after downtown, but he rode through it.
I started to get worried, getting paranoid. It's a common belief that when things are going too well for too long, something terrible must happen. Also, I'd recently read a couple short stories and heard one personal anecdote about people dying suddenly or within short periods of time, in contradiction to all their plans. Being that I love my job and the weather's getting better, maybe I was due for a mugging. It's been 12 years since my apartment was broken into, 11 years since I was mugged in the middle of the street, at noon, in front of a line of cars. I feel that crime, like any force of nature or statistical likelihood, builds up over a period of time until it hits critical mass and you're overdue for a personal tragedy. I was psyching myself up pretty badly, in summary, while Rebecca noticed nothing.
Finally we got to the end of the route. The last few lingerers on the bus disembarked and we went to ask the driver if we could ride a couple more blocks. "Ride all you want!" he said breezily, and we thanked him as he flipped on his "NOT IN SERVICE" sign. The dangerous-looking kid remained in the back. Four short blocks later and we'd see whether he had marked us or not. I secured my bag's position across my shoulder, tightened up my coat, and pulled my gloves on, readying my defensive posture.
We got off the bus, immediately running into one of Rebecca's friends, Dylan. He didn't want the 6A, he wanted the 23, which runs along 36th St. but he didn't know whether he was early or late for it. The 6A pulled away and I glimpsed the kid slumped against the rear window, asleep.
He'd been asleep the whole time as I psyched myself up for a miniature class struggle, and now he was headed to the MTC bus garage. It's possible he was dead, I suppose, but his bowels hadn't evacuated in any noticeable sense. He could have taken a large dump and then boarded the bus and died, but the more you have to rationalize something like that, the less likely it is: he was probably asleep.
We offered Dylan a ride to wherever he was going since Rebecca was going to do some errands anyway. Now I'm home: I've fed the cats and started the grill in back, and Rebecca's pulling up to the curb.