Enraged on the Emerald Express

Enraged on the Emerald Express


He was wearing a 3-hole purple ski mask and his teeth gnashed like a rabid dog as he screamed incessant, unintelligible gibberish. The parking lot adjacent to the Emerald Express bus stop was his territory; he paced the perimeter with long exaggerated strides and erratically swinging arms. His eyes were indiscernible from where I was sitting, but I could imagine they were the wide, enraged eyes of a charging bull. As I waited for the bus (mercifully only 2 minutes away according to the terminal monitor), the man did not let up on his angry soliloquy for a single moment.


At random intervals, the man would thrust a finger accusatorily skyward as if his tirade was addressed to a heavenly figure.

“Just another day on the bus,” grumbled a woman in a floral dress. She too was waiting at the terminal. Her prominent Adam’s apple shifted as she took a drag of her marijuana pen. She held the smoke for a moment before releasing a sour smelling cloud into the air. The smoke danced and billowed outward stretching for what it mistook to be its kindred in the sky above before dissipating.

“Sure is,” I said without much enthusiasm. The screaming had me on edge.


To my relief, the Emerald Express turned the corner and pulled into the station. The opening doors felt like a long-time friend extending their arms for a hug. I raced inside and grabbed a seat, eager to head home.


My heart sank.


The screaming was getting closer. A moment later, Ski Mask stepped on board. Silently, his purple head swiveled from left to right, examining his surroundings, and then he took a seat at one of the inward facing chairs in the handicap section. He clasped his hands in his lap and sat ramrod straight. The doors closed.


The bus pulled away from the station.


We passed two stations without incident. Ski Mask reached up a hand and gently pulled at the tether to request a stop.


The bus came to a stop at the next station. Ski Mask got to his feet and headed towards the exit with calm, measured steps. As he neared the door, he turned to face the bus driver. My stomach tightened.

“Thank you so much for the ride,” he said in a singsong, almost feminine voice. He raised a hand in farewell and stepped off.

“You’re welcome,” called the driver.

The doors closed behind Ski Mask and I watched as he took off the ski mask and became Ski Mask no more. Suddenly he was Average Well-Groomed Man. He was clean shaven with short curly brown hair. His face lit up into a smile and he strolled down the sidewalk. The purple ski mask gently swayed in his hand in tune with his light, bouncing steps.

Author's Note: I said back in January that I would try to post more frequently. I subsequently didn't post anything for nearly two months . . . Here's another not so solemn pledge that I'll try to put more content on here. They will likely be shorter pieces like the above and "The Beaver State." Those are more manageable for me to write and likely more manageable for you to read while "on the go." I hope everything is treating you well!