But the back of the bus -- the bull pen, the lounge, the rowdy room usually full of young, shouting men and women, rollicking their way uptown -- the back of the bus was empty, except for you. May I join you? You had stretched your legs across from the back bench to the side bench; you had a spider tattoo on your left leg, just a few inches below your knee. Nice spider.
You smiled at me as I sat down on the starboard bench; yes, the bench with your legs, and the spider tattoo. You were beautiful. (You are beautiful). I scrambled in my bag for a book, and pretended to read, peeking over the book; I looked ahead in the bus so I could see your reflection in the glass panels next to me. Long days are nice, eh? I checked the streets we crossed, despite being forty blocks from my destination; I read billboards and casually glanced out the window at car dealerships and hubcap franchises, scrounging any excuse for a scrap of gazing in your direction. Man, is this bus slow today!
I helped you open your window, after you struggled for a minute; I defeated the window with wiggling, rather than force. I have no strength to offer; it's brains and a smart mouth, or nothing. And yet I was mute. I joked, feebly, about outsmarting hardware as I sat down again, and yet you seemed friendly, even so. I returned to my book.
And twice -- maybe three or four times before I got off at 100th Street -- I caught you looking back. And then you were watching me, from your private lounge in the back of the bus, as it pulled away. I smiled.
Hey, I don't say to the air.
What's your name?
Where are you going?
Where are you coming from?
Come here often?
Here's my card.
...Were you smiling at me?