The bus stop was inhabited by the usuals. Brenda with her red coat and red hairnet. She stood around 4 foot ten inches and wore way too much lipstick which found it’s way to her teeth.
Francesca was the Italian widow who never smiled and seemed to be in perpetual mourning for something or someone that had passed.
Bobby was a former night club singer who smoked way too much in his 75 years, that his voice no longer rose above a whisper. His voice was part Louis Armstrong part Tom Waite. He carried a flask with him and offered me a drink once or twice. Each time I declined.
There was Rosita, always an umbrella at the ready and a large bag. She had a perpetual smile which made me think she must have some disability.
The bus was the B68, it was driven by Mr C. That’s what he liked to be called. He was an obese man who I would imagine as a giant Oscar the Grouch once he took off his uniform.
I was wearing a black leather coat, not as cool as it sounds, it was outdated and had tears in the sleeves. On my feet were wide sneakers and on my legs were a decade old pair of jeans. In my hand was the story of my life, Steinbeck’s “Winter of my Discontent,” and my smart phone in my other hand. I was known as Ethan, even though that wasn’t my name.
We had all bonded for the past year after we were stranded in the same bus for several hours during a snowstorm. We gathered around and we all introduced ourselves to each other.
It was called the “snowstorm of the century,” even though it had occurred within the first several years of the 21st century.
We all went to work that day and ended up on the bus stop together as complete strangers. By the time we were able to get home late that evening, we had become familiar strangers.
Next week will be the one year anniversary of the snow storm of the century and we will each acknowledge each other and sit in the same seats, same costumes and the same pretensions.
We are widows, we are starved and hungry men and women, each with crumpled hopes and dreams we carry around where ever we go.
We are the forgotten, we are the ones who strived, dreamed and prayed regardless of the echo of silence in response.
We are not who we seem to be, we are, each of us, avalanche survivors who were resuscitated by sheer conviction that we would not give in to the darkness.
Never giving in to the pain filled void which beckons us, like a temptress on a cold and lonely middle of the night.
We are the defeated who are victorious because we still stand proud, though a bit hunched.
We are the victorious who cannot, will not cede our seat on this bus to just anyone.
Beautiful strangers in this cold New York borough we call home. Perhaps we will raise a glass or have a cup of coffee together. Perhaps we will share a bed to ease each other into and out of our dreamy state.
The bus continues, making no stops enroute to our destinations. Looking outside the window I witness the first snow flake floating down and I stand up to get off at the next stop. I nod my farewells as the bus comes to a stop.