He spits his words into the air like he's reading to his son, or his wife, or his sleeping dog curled up by the fireplace where he is not crazy at all, just a man who likes words. He is behind me and I wish he were in front of me so I could see him, so I could watch his arms move in giant circles as he speaks, so I could read his newspaper with him. I wish the underground hum of the bus was not so overpowering. I wish he would speak louder, not quite yelling, not at all, but just enough so that people would get scared and move away so I could claim their seats. I strain my ears, trying to pick the words out of the background...

"...police found her.....no charges....custody.....broken......"

I can't hear him anymore; he's gotten softer. But I still get a calming string of nonsense: "wshhhhh fruuuugh bargle geh..." I imagine this is a foreign language, and I try to follow the current of the words to find their meaning. This is more fun. Sounds like the Business section.

He trails off. I pretend to read my book, but I'm secretly watching him from the back corner of my eye. I've never seen anyone sit as straight as him (but still rocking every once in a while, as if an afterthought). I've never seen a collar quite so stiff. He probably smells like aftershave, sharp and fresh and new and crinkly like newspaper.

I almost forget about him until this moment, a few stops later when the bus has lapsed into sleepy silence again.

"JESUS CHRIST," he yells, and then "ssshhh, sshhhh....", he lapses into low mumbling but we have all jumped a mile out of our chairs before this happens. I look up and half-expect to see Christ himself walking down the aisle towards me, carrying a shopping bag and sighing as he sinks into the sticky orange chair, quickly adopting the proper bus-face. I imagine he would stare at his toes like the rest of us. Or maybe he would read a book. Or maybe he would read the newspaper out loud like the man behind me.

I like this man. I am tempted to ask him to switch buses with me, reading to me the whole way, but instead I watch him walk away from the station like everyone else.

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