I live next to a neighborhood bus stop. There are three people who have, for years, taken the 8:15 a.m. bus into Providence. The guy who lives down the street is as friendly and curious as a puppy. He has an artsy/geeky vibe about him. I almost ran over him one day as I backed out of my drive too fast. He didn’t take it personally which says a lot about his character. His house is the old Victorian with the wild flowers and ferns growing every which way in the yard. That house used to be owned by a nice couple with three little blond girls. The parents got divorced and sold the house. I always thought of it as the “sad house” until he and his partner bought it and planted the wildflowers. It has taken awhile, but now it is the artsy/geeky house. It’s not sad at all. He and I smile and wave every day, twice on the days when I try and run him over.
A very straight forward appearing woman also takes the bus every morning. I imagine her as the friend you call for good advice. She always looks both ways before crossing the road and if it’s a close call, she errs on the side of caution. I’d want her in my corner. She is a good bus stop mate for the geeky guy. They seem find things to talk about. There are a number of universities in our area that give free bus passes to employees and I imagine that these two might work at one of them.
Finally, there’s trench coat guy. He might also work at the university, but in a basement somewhere, with lab animals, dangerous chemicals or complicated algorithms. He walks with his head down. There’s no catching his eye. He wears a trench coat tied tight at the waist, always; spring, summer, fall, winter, the trench coat persists. He keeps himself at a safe distance from the other bus stop inhabitants. I suspect that he sometimes takes an earlier bus to avoid the obligatory morning greetings.
The earlier bus leaves at 7:45 a.m. Recently, Material Girl has been showing up for the 7:45. She has arrived, seemingly, via the East River Ferry that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. The stilettos, cigarette, black leggings and teased blond hair are all accounted for. I, for one, am delighted to see her.
Oh look, here comes our trench coated friend. He walks straight up the sidewalk, stops, makes a military turn to the left, looks both ways without, somehow, looking up, and crosses the street. He positions himself several feet away from Material Girl and turns his body sideways to discourage any possible conversation. This leaves him with his back to the street and staring at the bush in the corner of my yard. I leave for work smiling.
A week later I am blatantly spying on them as I pretend to warm up our car for my own morning commute. I watch, breathlessly, as she makes her move, stepping towards him with a smile. It’s about bloody time. He backs away. She steps in, persisting. He is forced into a conversation.
Darn it. I’m late for work.
The next day I pause, key half way to ignition, not believing what I’m seeing. Trench coat guy appears and (dramatic pause) he is not wearing the trench coat. Where is the trench coat? Instead, he models a trench coat-colored windbreaker. He is obviously freezing. I am amazed by the changes Material Girl has wrought in a couple weeks. They chat as I leave for work. I wave, but they do not notice. His hands are shoved deep in his pockets and his shoulders tremble; from cold or nerves, I can’t tell. She smiles and looks up at him, stamping out her cigarette butt with the toe of her tiny pointy boot. I can’t wait for tomorrow.
The next day I am disappointed by their absence, but my imagination has taken flight. They’ve fallen in love, right? They must have done. Unless they chipped in on a car. Or moved to a different bus stop away from the chicken’s prying eyes. Have they eloped? Wait…has it all been an elaborate unintentional hoax? Perhaps they were a couple all along and she, sensing her nerdy genius had become preoccupied with a certain brilliant lab assistant, devised a sexy bus stop game to reel him back in. I will never know, but that’s okay. I don’t mind filling in the blanks. Truth is arbitrary. I sure will miss those two love birds.