The Horizontal Elevator
I take the bus downtown every day. I don't mind. It's like joining a silent freak show for fifteen minutes. It’s a brief engagement. When the bus stops and the curtain doors open, I climb onto center stage as both observer and the observed. I'm the new main attraction.
The audience is composed of former stars that have graduated to seasoned veterans and freak experts. Everyone is a critic. Their focus varies from rapid eye movement to long, armor piercing stares. Today I'm "Pony-Boy," half man, half jackass. I quickly scan the room and select my stall. "What's this asshole selling?" I can hear them think.
My act is finished now and I become a spectator. With each subsequent stop, the rolling big top exchanges audience members for new performers. Fresh meat. I can sum up the next contestant’s entire life in three seconds or less. I observe my peers doing the same. Double takes are always a signal that someone special has just entered the spotlight. The judging begins.
"That guy is drunk. It's 8:30 in the morning!" "Is that a man or a woman?" It's the local transvestite, right on schedule. “What's her destination?” Next. "Bastard." "Prude." "Loser." "Bitch!" “Village Idiot." “Clueless!” “Goddess.” “Sinner.” “Saint.”
Here's another winner. "Poor dumb bastard." It’s a nervous businessman whose car probably wouldn't start. He is definitely a rookie. He didn't have time to rehearse or prepare his act. It's reflected in his performance. “Relax buddy. It's only a bus ride. We're all freaks here. I'm just not as fucked up as the rest of you.”
I don't mind waiting for the bus at the stop. It beats the hell out of waiting under it.