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Sam Wiebe

award-winning writer of LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS  AND INVISIBLE DEAD

Bus Fight Real Encounter

* * * I actually saw this, which is why when I wrote it I called it 'Bus Fight Real Encounter.' Which means it's technically 'creative non-fiction.' But that awful term conjures up images of community college writing program grads pissing and moaning about dead dogs and weddings. 'Bus Fight' was a 'notable story' in the 2011 Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction contest. * * * 

 

I'm on the 321 heading to King George Station, laden down with clean
laundry, food, a poster. I'm sitting at the back with the window open,
hoping the breeze will kill my headache. A large middle-aged man
wearing thick glasses is sitting on the bench a few spaces down from
me. I have my headphones on but I'm not listening to anything, they're
just to avoid chatter.

At Newton Exchange the bus starts filling up. Two guys get on. They
stand near the back exit. One is native, short, the other lanky and
white. Both wear black, head to toe. The native guy's shirt has a
skull on the back.

Someone yells "Stop staring at me." I look up. It's the lanky guy,
talking to the average-looking middle-aged man. The lanky guy repeats
his threat, makes like he's going to storm to the back of the bus and
beat on the old guy. He says, "You don't stop looking at me I'm'a
spray you."

The native guy says to Mr. Middle-Age, "Do what he says, you don't
want to pick a fight with him." Building up the lanky guy as a real
badass. Now that I and everyone else on the bus are watching them, I
notice a meth-type agitation to them.

Mr. Middle-Age starts to reason with them. "I'm not staring at you. I
just got off work, my mind's on twenty different things, I'm staring
straight ahead. I mean, I gotta stare somewhere. What?"

The lanky guy does storm to the back of the bus, gets in the old guy's
face, makes like he's going to punch him but doesn't. Then he swaggers
back up the aisle to his friend.

The old guy's doing himself no favors. "You wouldn't be doing that I
was twenty years younger. You're real tough, picking on an old guy.
Probably got a knife on you."

"I'm not some bitch needs a knife," the lanky guy says, and repeats
his threats to spray the old guy. I assume that means spray with
bullets, which would nullify his I-don't-need-no-knife statement. I
don't see a gun.

The bus stops. The two young men are real agitated now. The native guy
is slamming his fist on the plastic ad above the door. He actually
disembarks until he realizes the lanky guy isn't getting off. He
climbs back on.

The old guy's now talking to other passengers. "Don't know why they're
picking on me. Just 'cause I'm big. So they can tell their friends
they mixed it up with someone big." Since logic didn't work, and
neither did wistful reminiscences about his youthful vitality, the old
guy is now trying to win the popular vote. He's all but saying, "Can
you believe these two?"

More threats are exchanged. The native guy slams the plastic one more
time before smashing the back door until the driver opens it. He gets
out. The lanky guy stays, makes like he's coming back to fight the old
guy, struts up to the front door.

At this point another man gets involved. He's wearing jeans and a
white hoodie. He's in his late twenties or early thirties. He's
wearing glasses with black frames. He looks a bit like Brock Lesnar,
same blond military-style haircut. but without Lesnar's upper body.
Solidly-built, but not steroid big.

The new guy interposes himself between the back door and the back
bench. The old guy is still telling stories of his youth, how if he
didn't have a pension at stake he'd sort that whipper-snapper out,
words to that effect. The new guy tells him not to antagonize the
lanky guy.

It doesn't shut the old guy up, and the new guy's presence doesn't
stop the lanky guy from making threats. He looks over the new guy's
shoulder and shouts something else at the old guy. Then he tries
moving past the new guy, trying his threats and do-something gestures
out on him.

The new guy head-butts him in the fucking face. The lanky guy
crumples, turns away. The new guy rains punches on the lanky guy's
back. The lanky guy runs off the bus cupping his face in his hands.
Runs off the bus using the front door. The front door. He literally
ran up the length of the aisle and out.

Someone hands the new guy his glasses, which hit the floor during the scuffle.

The middle-aged guy is effusive but can't resist the opportunity to
make it about him. "That's what I woulda done I was younger and wasn't
afraid of losing my pension," et cetera.

The new guy says, "I hate to see people picked on. I just hope I don't
get arrested this soon after getting out of jail."

The old guy says, "No need to worry, I think nobody back here saw a thing."

Damn straight. The rest of us are jubilant the two assholes have been
removed. I'm sure someone captured the fight on their phone. The rest
of us looked on and did nothing.

We all get off at King George, head up the escalator to the Skytrain.
Mr. Middle-Age is walking next to the new guy, chewing his ear off.
His body language says, "Didn't the two of us show that guy what's
what?" The new guy is polite.

I'm an escalator ride behind them. I notice they're sitting in a
crowded train car. I lean in and tell the new guy, "I think what you
did was really brave and I appreciate it." He says thanks.

I go to an empty train car and roll the whole incident around my head
a few times. A couple stops before Metrotown, the new guy gets off. As
he passes my car, he notices me, sticks his head in and says, "Have a
nice night."

"You too, man," I say.