The Number 6 Bus

I felt so relaxed, unusually so, for being at a bus stop. Usually, I’m looking around, checking my phone app, the time, and the news, but today was different. I just stood calmly, clutching my ticket and waiting. The early morning light vaguely illuminated the others who were waiting. We were all peacefully silent, like a docile group of zen Buddhists. I was sure it was going to be a hot day, hot and humid. And there was an occasional whiff of something foul in the air.

Or that’s how I imagine monks to be. I don’t really know what monks or priests or yogis think. I’ve always called myself a pagan, a worshiper of golden idols and nature. Gets a laugh every time, ya’ know.

A long black bus glided into the bus stop, its overhead sign slowly flashing the number six. It would flash three times and then pause and then repeat. I looked at my ticket to confirm it was my bus and then boarded. I’m a polite person, so I didn’t head for the available handicapped seat, I went further back and sat by a window. That’s the correct thing to do so you allow another person to sit on the aisle without all the “excuse me” and bumping bodies.

Speaking of bodies, the person who did sit in the handicapped seat looked more than just handicapped. I was very alarmed to see his arm resting on his lap at an impossible angle with the bone protruding just above his elbow. He must have been in terrific pain but he sat quietly in his seat, holding his ticket with his good hand.

A young woman sat down next to me and it was impossible not to notice that she had recently been crying and had horrific bruising around her neck. Fortunately for me, she was no longer crying. I abhor women who cry in public. Slowly the bus filled up with passengers. I no longer wanted to pay any attention to the others. I was content to simply sit, although I did wonder when someone would collect my ticket.

After a few moments, or really, I’m not sure how long, a young man with a mic introduced himself. “Hello, Travelers. I am Virgil, your guide. You have been chosen for this journey because you are heretics and pagans. This will be your final journey with us. Our destination is the Sixth Ring of Hell. Let me be the first to welcome you to the Inferno. For even though you do not believe, the Devil does truly exist. Now, sit back, relax, and we will arrive shortly.”

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