Foul Belle

27 Apr

1980

I got on a midtown bus in midwinter. There were a few spaces next to a strange-looking woman. She was skinny and looked as though her clothes were mid-60s Carnaby Street items found in secondhand stores. Her skirt was too short and she had a vest over a polka dot shirt.

I sat down two seats away from her and she looked grateful that there was still an empty seat between us.

The bus started moving and she began talking to herself. “No one’s going to sit next to us. There’s not going to be anybody next to us.”

She started to pat he air above the empty seat next to her as though there was an invisible poodle sitting there. “Now you just sit right there, Freddy. You just sit there.”

No one on the bus said anything, but alarmed smiles were exchanged.

At the next stop a woman got on and almost sat next to her. But she seemed to sense trouble and moved further back into the bus.

The bus was almost full and one stop later a man sat next to her.

She jumped up. “You’re not sitting next to me! Oh no you’re not. You’re all sick. Did you see him? Trying to sit next to me.”

She was clutching the pole in the middle of the bus. No one said anything. No one wanted to upset her even more.

“You’ll all pay. You can’t get away with this. You just wait, there’ll be a policeman at the end of the line. You’re all going to be locked up and shot. You laugh now. Enjoy yourselves. You won’t be laughing long. Oh you dirty niggers, letting them on the bus. You just wait.”

She looked at me. “Yeah, that boy with his curly hair. He thinks’ so handsome. All washed. He’s going to get it. He’s going to die. Policemen will be waiting. Every last one of you will be shot. I’ll be the only one left. Oh, it will be terrible. Blood will fly, there’ll be stabbing.”

She drew out the next phrase. “Teeth will be extracted.”

Twist Boulevard

Mark Rogers

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