The 18

By, Ashley Ellen Goetz

“Dem’s are some precious kids Ma’am. Do you have hundreds of pictures of dem up on your walls?”
“That is so funny you should ask; I do, I got them from when they’s was little watermelons ‘til they is fourteen!”
“They look mighty much like you little lady. Alls of them. Even that little suh.”
“Really? I never did thought they looked all that much like me.”
“Well I’ll be damned lady, you are bones alike.”
“Do you want a picture? I have some in my purse.”

“Here, here you go.”
“God bless you Ma’am.”
“Oh-there’s a barber shop! Hey, hey Mr.! How much is kids haircuts?”
“Kids?”
“Yes suh, kids haircuts!”
“Ten dollars Ma’am.”
“Well I gots four kids! Can I get a—a—a princess discount”

“What?”

“Ah, awe, well we’s gonna to have to go back there this afternoon.”
“What kinda book is that?”
“Marlon. Marlon! Git back here! Don’t bother the nice lady.”
“It’s no problem, really.”

“Is that a story book?”

“It’s a classic.”
“What’s a classic?”
“Marlon.”
“It’s a really, really good book that a lot of people read.”
“Are there pictures in it?”
“No. Just words. It’s funny though.”
“Are there horses in it?”
“Not yet.”
“Then what are those horses on the book for?”
“You know, I’m really not sure.”
“Orange is my favorite color.”
“Marlon. Let the lady alone!”
“Oh, it’s fine.”
“Franklin!”
“How much is it right now?”
“One seventy five.”
“Aw, aw geez I’m sorry. Aw hell. I think there was two dollars there.”
“Here- here you go; oh this too.”
“Oh thanks, oh no, don’t worry, I-I can get that.”
“Sir, here’s another few dimes, they rolled under my seat.”
“Thank you.”
“Sir, don’t worry about it. Just sit down. You can ride for free today.”
“Oh, I-I, okay, thank you.”
“Twenty fourth!”
“Sir, if you could step aside. I need to put this seat up.”
“Oh, okay.”
“Do you want to sit here? I’m getting off soon.”
“Oh no, I’m fine.”
“Hi sir.”
“Excuse me, goddamn it.”
“OW! Ow, my foot.”
“Oh god, I’m sorry. I hurt you’re foot. I can’t fucking walk here! Excuse my Goddamn wheels!”
“Geeze.”
“Everybody fucking get out of my damn way. I’m fucking paralyzed. Fucking move out of my way.”
“Excuse me?”
“How rude.”
“Can you believe that man?”
“Can we get going here? I have a really important dinner to get to.”
“What time is it?”
“7:16.”
“Already? Shit, I’ll just walk. Can you pull that? Excuse me. Sorry. I have a lot of stuff. Sir, excuse me. I need to get off. Sorry, excuse me. Thanks.”
“Everybody settle down and we’ll get going.”
“Thank God.”
“Twenty seventh!”
“Oh hi Marla! How are you?”
“Jean! Oh I’m good! How are you?”
“Oh I’m okay. My cat was up all night last night.”
“Oh no, not all night.”
“Yea, all night. He just kept crying the whole night. I couldn’t sleep.”
“That’s terrible.”
“Lake Street!”
“Goddamn, excuse me! I need to get off here.”
“Here we go again.”
“Ah, watch out.”
“I’m in a wheel chair damnit! You watch out you sonofabitch.”
“Sir. Please.”
“Yea yea, you try being a fucking cripple.”
“Have a nice day.”
“Aw, go to hell.”
“Excuse me, I need to get off here. Excuse me. Sir.”
“I think he has head phones on.”
“Oh sorry.”
“Thanks. Excuse me.”

“Thank you, have a good one.”
“You too.”
“Thirty second!”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”
“Thanks.”
“Have a good day.”
“What are you reading?”

“Catcher in the Rye.”

“I’ve heard of that.”

“Oh that’s a good book. Very insightful. I love the kids. It’s great to get a child’s perspective on the world.”

“It is. I have a couple kids myself and I am so amazed at how much they already understand. One’s twelve and I swear he’s already beyond me.”

“That’s very true. I tutor at the library and it surprises me all the time at how mature the children are. I’m not sure if I just can’t remember or if I was aware of the world that young too.”

“Yea, you grow up and you just start forgetting. Hmm. I’ll have to read that book.”

“Thirty sixth!”

“Oh, this is my stop. Good talking to you two.”

“Oh, it’s my stop too.”

“What a coincidence! That makes three!”

“I think that makes us neighbors.”

“I think it does.”

“Good night ladies.”

“Thank you.”

“Have a good night.”

“You too.”
“Sorry. Excuse me—do you go to Xerxes?”
“No. This is the end of the line – I’m headed to the station, sorry.”
“Oh okay, thank you.”
“Take the six.”
“Okay, thanks!”
“Yep.”
“Last stop!”
“Sir.”
“Excuse me sir. This is the last stop.”
“Sir?”
“Sir, excuse me.”
“Sir, you dropped your picture.”
“Sir, wake up.”

“Sir?”
“Oh God. Oh no.”
“Sir, sir, wake up!”

“Sir!”

“Oh no. Oh God. Please God, pick up.”
“Hello?”
“Hi, Bob, I have a man here that seems to be unconscious.”
“No, you don’t need to send anyone. I’m actually only a block away. See you in a second.”
“Hi. Are you Bob?”

“That’s me.”

“Thank you for coming out here so quickly.”

“Not a problem.”

“Um, he’s–he’s in the back.”

“Let’s see what we’ve got here.”
“Mr.? Excuse me, Sir?”
“Yea, I checked and I didn’t feel anything.”
“Does he have some sort of ID on him? Can you help me, lets turn him.”
“I can’t find his wallet. What should we do?”

“I called an ambulance.”
“I found this picture.”
“Marlon, seven years old.”
“I think I saw that boy on the bus.”
“Hmm.”

“What should we do?”

“We wait. Do you want to sit? We can sit with him.”

“Oh. Okay. Sure. I can’t believe this. I’ve never had anything like this happen. Never.”

“No? Never seen anyone die?”

“Not up close.”

“It’s okay. It actually happens all the time. People on the bus. You get to the end of the line. Some drivers don’t even notice ‘til they get there. But people die. Homeless people. Old people. People fall asleep. People are drunk. People get heart attacks. It happens. It’s unexpected, but it really isn’t. Are you new?”

“Oh. Yea, I am. This is my first solo route.”

“Your first? Oh. I didn’t mean to scare you. It happens. Not all the time. No—not to the same drivers. But it happens.”

“I guess so.”

“Life happens, you know?”

“Yea. I know. It’s very sad, isn’t it?”

“Only if you look at it that way. I think it was just his time.”

“I suppose.”

“Makes you appreciate the time you have. Every bit of it.”

“Thank you.”

“Oh, hey, look—they’re here!”
“Hi. Thanks for coming so quick.”
“That’s what we do.”
“Yea, he’s back here.”
“Excuse us, M’aam.”
“Lift him.”
“There you go. Got him?”

“Got him.”
“Alright, well thank you, Bob, and, Suzzanne. Thanks for calling. We’ll take it from here.”
“Oh, okay.”
“Thank you.”
“Have a good one.”
“Mmm hmm, you too.”

“Alright. Well Suzanne—it was nice talkin’ to you.”

“Thank you. You too. Really. I appreciate it.”

“Tomorrow will be better. I guarantee it.”
“Thanks Bob. Have a good night.”
“Any time. Bye bye.”

“Bye.”
“Oh geeze. Oh God. Calm down. Mmph.”

“Sam? Sam are you there?”
“Hi.”

“Yea, everything’s fine.”

“Yea, it was okay.”

“I just, wanted to call you. I um, I just, um, I had a man die on the bus tonight.”

“Oh don’t worry.”

“Really, it’s okay. Really. It was actually—it was very peaceful. Nothing scary. He just, sort of, fell asleep. You know?”

“Yea. Mmm hmm. Okay. I’ll see you at home.”

“I love you too.”