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The Face Plant That Woke a Bus

 

The Number 5 bus brings together students, shoppers, seniors and the blind, normally
quietly. But on Sunday afternoon, one face plant got everyone talking.

“Oh shit!” the man yelled as he tripped onto the bus stopped at 45th and Guadalupe.

A ponytailed man in the back woke up. He had fallen asleep reading the book now in his
lap. The woman next to him took out one of her headphones and looked up.

“I’m not normally a slip and fall guy,” the man said as he picked himself and his
sunglasses off the ground. He placed them on his head, combing back his long thin
curly hair, and reached in his pockets for change.

“I mean, I do slip every now and then I guess,” he continued.

“You alright?” the driver asked.

“Yeah, these boots have no god damn traction,” he muttered while paying the fare.

He was a stocky guy, probably in his 30’s, but it was hard to tell. A scruffy beard
consumed much of his face.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s just these boots,” he said, eying the open seat next to me before introducing
himself as Aaron.

“Feel free, man,” I said. Aaron sat down and started to explain why he was wearing
boots at all. They used to be part of his uniform as a construction worker. He quit two
months earlier because it was getting too cold for him to work outside.

“So, what are you up to now?” I asked.

“Eating pancakes, reading, and riding the bus,” Aaron replied.

I looked around. Previously everyone was lost looking at the outside world or that within
their phones. Now many were listening to our conversation.

“I’m from Chicago, though, I should be used to the cold,” he continued.
“Chicago?” a passenger chimed in. “I’m from Chicago!” she said. “63rd and Chappel!”

“Me too!” another man said.

The Chicagoans proceeded to talk about the weather in their hometown, increasing rent
prices, and the Bulls. Typical small talk seemed not to interest Aaron much.

He turned back towards me and reached for the stop request cord.

“I’m going to get off at the next stop,” he said.

I asked him where he was going. “Not sure, but I did want to give you something,” he
replied.

“This is my favorite book ever,” he said while the Chicagoans were now talking about
Obama. He dug into his backpack and took out a book with yellowed pages and a
wrinkled green cover.

“It’s part of this series about a superhero named Flashman,” he explained. “This one is
called ‘Flashman’s Lady.’”

“Are you sure you want to give this to me?” I asked taken aback. “You should keep
your favorite book.”

“Yes,” he said as the bus slowed to a stop in front of Northcross Mall. “I, Aaron, am
giving you this book.”

He got up and told me that the book was about a fictional character in a real world. As
he stepped off the bus, this time holding onto the door, I wondered if he was too.

 

– Story by Jeremy Steinberger