Minutes earlier, he had crossed the downtown street,
walking carefully not only because he was obviously drunk at seven in the morning but also so he didn’t drop his precious cargo in the plain brown paper bag. He made it to the safety of the bus shelter bench and sat down for a moment to gather his thoughts.
The man was not alone for long. He was soon joined by a woman, not so obviously drunk, but someone who had seen many years of steady drinking. At least that how it looked to the observer watching her approach the bench and sit down next to her friend.
They talked in loud, drink-slurred voices for a few minutes. They hardly let the passing back and forth of the bag and taking drinks from the container in it cause an interruption to their conversation. It was a chilly winter’s morning in the California capital(only about 40 degrees), and the two people on the bench tried to draw warmth from the conversation and the drinking.
A public transportation bus pulled up to their location.
The front and back doors opened to allow the arriving passengers to exit through the rear and new passengers to board at the front. The bus was a few minutes ahead of schedule so the driver left the doors open until it was time to leave.
The man saw the open rear door of the bus and whispered something to the woman. She shook her head and nodded her head towards the front of the bus where the driver sat. The man chuckled under his breath and urgently whispered again into the woman’s ear. She shook her head again.
The man shrugged his shoulders and, not so unsteadily, got to his feet. He looked quickly towards the front of the bus to make sure the driver wasn’t looking. Quick as a flash and to the amazement of other commuters and passersby, the man entered the bus through the open rear doors and took a seat inside.
He looked around nonchalantly, like he had every reason to be innocently on the bus.
His friend on the bench and everyone else who had witnessed the events watched in awe as the bus doors closed,
and the bus pulled away. It moved about ten feet down the road when it came to a sudden stop and the doors open. Onlookers could see the driver get out of her seat and walk to the back of the bus where the man sat.
Through the windows of the bus, the drama was on full display to everyone on the street. The bus driver and the man having an animated conversation. The bus driver pointing an accusatory finger at the man. The man pleading innocence. After five minutes of this back-and-forth bus drama, the man stood up and walked off the bus.
He returned to the bus shelter bench and sat back down. He and his lady friend went back to their conversation and their drinking. The bus doors closed, and it pulled away with its legitimate passengers on board.