Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 1 Day and 14 Hours
Early morning. The Number 5 southbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Safeway on Greenwood. Two middle-aged men enter the bus from the rear.
Man 1: ...ambulance in front of that new park over there...
Man 2: Huh. But what were you saying?
Man 1: I was talking about the world, you know? I mean what is it, really? We talk like we know what it is, but do we? I don't think it's worth worrying about. I try to concentrate on smaller things like my family, or my job, or my yard. Reading the newspaper too much... and having all these ideas about how the world is... that's just confusion.
Man 2: I get what you're saying, but I still think it's good to stay informed, man. The world is so interconnected now. You might think some things are far away, and that they'll never affect you, but they're probably closer than you think. It's good to keep your eyes on the ground, but you don't want to put your head in the sand.
Man 1: ..."head in the sand." Well I guess you've got a catch phrase for everything, don't you?
Man 2: Yeah, I guess I do.
The bus passes through the intersection of Greenwood and 85th. Pedestrians stare lazily from the street corners. The first man exits the bus at the next stop, while his friend remains seated.
The Number 48 eastbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Top Ten Toys on 85th. An elderly woman enters the bus from the front.
Woman [to the bus driver]: Whew! It's hot today isn't it?
Driver: Yes. Hey, you hear about that body they found near here? I was reading about it in the paper this morning. In that park behind the Fred Meyer, just over there...
Woman: No I didn't. What happened?
Driver: No one knows. Older guy. Probably living in the parks around here. Might have been a heart attack, or something. Happened yesterday.
Woman: Well maybe that's not so bad. If he was older, maybe he went in his sleep and didn't feel a thing. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my husband and I went down to northern California? We were on the Pacific Coast Highway somewhere, and this strange woman knocks on the door of our camper. "I need help," she says, "My husband just shot himself and I think he's dead."
Driver: Was he?
Woman: Oh yes. My husband and this younger guy went down the cliff to look for him. Found him floating in the water. He'd had this big gun in the waistband of his pants, and it'd gone off accidentally.
Driver: Gotta be careful with guns.
Woman: Very true.
The driver pulls the bus to a stop as they approach the intersection of Greenwood and 85th. As he does so, the Number 5 southbound passes by. The elderly woman notices two middle-aged men talking near the front of the bus.
The Number 5 northbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Greenwood Library, and a younger man with earphones in his ears slouches through the bus doors. He sits down, his phone rings, and he begins a noisy conversation with the person on the other end.
Younger Man: ...bus smells like some homeless guy's been in it. Yeah, that smell. Sweat and Night Train, dude! But yeah, I listened to that stuff you sent me. I guess I liked some of it. I mean, like, Soundgarden's cool, but they're not like Solange or Lorde or anything. Nirvana? Man, my dad listens to Nirvana."
Younger Man: Naw, man. Naw. The Sonics? What, you mean like the video game? No, I ain't never heard of The Sonics man. They ever play with Pearl Jam? What? Shit, that's old man. Where do you find out about this stuff?
Younger Man: Yeah whatever. That Queensryche shit is gay. Fuckin' hair metal. Why don't you like anything NEW, man? I tell you, there's a lot of cool shit out there now. You going to Bumbershoot? No, tickets aren't cheap. But hey, we can go together man. Tracy's got this friend that'll drive us. No, it's in three days, man. Yeah, on Friday.
The bus passes through the intersection of Greenwood and 85th as the traffic light turns from green to yellow. The younger man notices the Number 48 approaching along 85th, one street away. The bus driver waves to the Number 5 southbound as it lumbers up Greenwood from the other direction.
Younger Man [to the driver]: Hey, this bus goes to Shoreline, right? I'm not on the one that goes to Northgate, am I?
Driver: Yes sir. This is the 5 to Shoreline. Would you, ah, mind talking a little quieter on that phone?
The Number 48 westbound. It comes to a stop in front of the theater, and a transient enters the bus through the front entrance. The stench of sweat and fortified wine emanates from his person, and many of the other bus passengers move to other seats to get farther away from him.
Transient [to himself]: Tell me I can't sleep in the fucking park at night. Old guy like me can sleep wherever he wants to. God damn police botherin' me. I don't like that. I don't like that at all.
Driver: Alright there, sir. Just be calm. We'll get you where you're going. That place in Loyal Heights, right? We'll be there in a minute. Monday afternoon like always. Just be calm now. I don't want to have to call the cops like last time.
Transient [mumbling]: Fuckin' vampire werewolves. Saw it on TV. It really happened. They tried to cover it up. They cover ALL the shit up man. It's all a conspiracy. Werewolves, and cyborgs. Trump, too. That guy... Tell ME I can't sleep in the fucking park at night!
As the bus crosses 3rd the transient sees the Number 48 eastbound, and smirks as the drivers of the two buses exchange a friendly wave. He turns, and behind the heads his fellow passengers he sees the intersection of Greenwood and 85th, far down the road behind him. Are there other buses coming? Is it all another layer of the conspiracy? And what about the monsters that he's seen in the TV screen, the one that's always on in his head? What will the people of this neighborhood do when the monsters arrive? Will they look to him for help?
His pills, his pills, he's got to remember to get his medicine. The doctor said it was very important. But when he takes it the TV screen in his head is black and silent, and he feels so empty without the messages it sends. I'll go back to the park tonight, he thinks. They can't stop me.
1. a. The World
1. b. The United States and the Rest of North America
1. c. My State
1. d. My City