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Thread: Pull Cord for Next Stop

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Pull Cord for Next Stop

    Pull Cord for next Stop
    (Jale el Cordon para pedir parada)

    by
    Steven Hunley


    Three pan dulces (sweet breads) in a bag, a copy of Seutonius in my pocket, and I’m ready to go to Montebello to be live-scanned for work. I’m doing an after-school program.

    On the bus-

    A popsicle stick black woman with hair slicked back and pulled tight has most of her hair wound up on one side like a burnt swirly cinammon bun, sunglasses propped up on her head. She’s bobbing her head up and down to music from her Walkman. Probably Mountain. Most likely Mississippi Queen. Her eyes take a queenly look at the men passing by in the aisle, evaluating, weighing and measuring their possible value.

    Her stately face shows no emotion. Her large hollow gold bamboo earrings dangle in time with the tune.

    A baby cries.

    She bestows upon it an incredible smile with teeth of white coral and thick Queen-sized eyebrows arched in recognition. I catch her regarding a man sitting opposite holding a jug of Oceanspray cranberry juice between his legs.

    Blue jeans, black socks, white laces on tennies. Mustached and goateed, hair cropped to perfection. Quite handsome.

    When he’s looking away she regards him. When he’s looking she casts her gaze down demurely.

    Something is going on here. It looks like eye-tag to me.

    She selects a different tune from her ancient Walkman and adjusts her ear-buds. Is that what you call them?
    .
    The only buds I’m familiar with have all turned to smoke. Today it’s brownies instead. I figure it will be a hoot to be live-scanned loaded as the place is probably crawling with cops. I’m clean, got no warrants and don’t reek of smoke, so I’m cool. Right?


    Queenie tilts her head back and yawns wide. A glistening strand of saliva appears between her upper and lower lips like kite-string and stretches. as she opens her mouth. Uh-oh. The illusion of beauty is going to be snapped forever.

    Fortunately he isn't looking.

    At a stop Queenie prepares to get off. The man scoots up in his seat. She is in the lead and stands in front of him. And guess what? From my angle I can tell he’s evaluating her butt.
    My goodness, he’s staring at it as if he’s transfixed!
    They both get off and as we pull away I can see him follow after her as if she were a female dog in heat. Good luck to them both, that’s what I say.

    I decide to write they got off on a street named Natchez, to prove that my artistic license is still valid.

    Two teens are texting, then look out the windows for girls. So much for the teen-age human condition.

    An old lady gets on with a messed-up umbrella.

    Outside two men with orange helmets and sunglasses are digging a ditch near the curb. Al I can see is their shoulders and heads, yet somehow the work looks too hard.

    An sad older lady with a bag marked “Food for Less” gets off. It probably wasn’t as less as she expected.

    We pass the Tropicanna Bakery and Cuban Cafe. The T is made out of a palm tree. I wonder if Ricky Ricardo works there. I wonder where Lucy is too.

    I eat one of my pan dulces on the corner of Whittier and Rosemead. 81 degrees of sun feel good on my face, no buildings in sight over two stories. I ponder just how many stories I’ll get out of this trip.

    I arrive at the place. Like I said, it’s crawling with cops. There’s eight desks and each one is busy, each person as straight as a ruler. A class is beginning in another room where some guy is explaining how to arrest someone else. What fun! There’s holsters and gun belts and tasers and phasers. William Shatner shops here for sure. I just know it.

    They have guns too, all dark and deadly. Snub-nosed 38, $450.00. Barretta, with extra clip, $350.00. They seem expensive, guns do. They must be a lot of fun.

    They take my prints. The guy who does it is good at it. He has the touch.

    “How long did this used to take,” I ask him, “when they were still using ink?”

    “Three months.”

    “How long now?”

    “Three weeks”

    I’m impressed.

    As I walk out the door I say to the guy who gave me my receipt, whose hair looks suspiciously like Jack Lord's,

    “You know, this was the next best thing to being on the set of Hawaii five-o.”

    “Thanks,” he says, and it’s over.

    Book 'em Danno.

    On the way back I notice that Montebello City Hall looks like a left over set from the film Lost Horizons. It ain’t Shangrila but it’s close. I decide to spread a rumor that’s exactly what it is, a piece left over from the film that they purchased from Columbia studios at a discount back in 1937.

    Perhaps my artistic license should be revoked. Perhaps I should be arrested for the things that go on in my mind. Perhaps we all should, even you.

    I get off to transfer and get lost. I see a dude rolling up the street.

    “Is the 60 this way?”

    “Where do you want to go?”

    “To Whittier.”

    “The city or the boulevard?”

    “The boulevard.”

    He’s handsome, Hispanic, and middle-aged, just a touch of grey at the temples. I can’t tell how tall or how short on acounta the wheel chair. He smiles.

    “It’s two lights down, that way. I used to go there all the time."

    We stroll parallel. I figure if he can wheel himself there then I can walk it no problem.

    “And you were rolling!” I point out.

    “That’s true!”

    He spreads a little more California sunshine my way with his teeth.

    “How long you been in the chair?”

    “Forty-five years.”

    “But you’re young! How can that be?”

    “I got the polio when I was one.”

    “I thought they cured it in the late fifties. Salk and his vaccine and all.”

    “Yes, but I was born in Mexico where it was still around.”

    “Oh, I see.”

    At the corner we part. Me on my feet, him on his wheels.

    “You must have great upper body strength!”

    “Yes,” he answers, “ en me brasos!” (arms)

    He wheels away and his arms are pointing up, fists clenched, and bent at the elbows. He’s flexing his muscles like Popeye.

    “Muy fuerte!” (real strong!) I shout, and he’s gone.

    Funny how some people emphasize their strengths. With me it’s my weaknesses. Sometimes I think something’s wrong with me.

    So I walk two lights, save sixty cents, and learn something about myself in the process. That I’m too self-absorbed.

    On Whittier a passing Dalmatian with black freckles pokes his head from a car window smelling what the Colonel is frying.
    A young Asian fellow is sitting beside me, texting like mad with Fingers Of Fury. Bruce Lee would be proud. A young couple in love shares a hamburger on the corner at a cement table under a metal umbrella. Two straws in one Coke. That’s love for ya.

    A Pico Rivera sheriff goes by in a squad car with her hair in a bun. Why is it women in authority always wear their hair in this fashion?

    We zoom by seven signs that say Bank Repos. They are not good signs any way you look at them. A man with an olive-green back-pack gets on and tries to sell a pair of sunglasses to the driver for forty-two dollars.

    “Fifty-five for two of them!”

    The driver drives on.

    “The frames themselves cost sixty-five dollars.”

    The driver keeps driving
    .
    “Your insurance would charge you one hundred and fifty!”

    When he gets off at the next stop the driver breaths easy.




    At Paramount and Firestone we pass Norm’s restaurant. I suddenly realize I have lost my pan dulces! They’re gone. I think that I left them with the cops! OMG OMG! I have just brought the Mexican equivalent of donuts to cops! This is a complete faux pas for an ex-hippie! Perhaps I should not publish this. What if the hippie police find out! My counter-culture reputation is at stake! I don’t know what to do.

    Book 'em Danno!


    I decide to go back to doing what I do best. I write.

    So if you see an old man scribbling on a notebook in the back of a bus, please pay him no heed. Act natural. It’s probably me.
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 11-14-2010 at 12:25 PM.

  2. #2
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    I actually think your licence is good for another few pages.

    This is what you do best. Personally I could read this kind of stuff all day long - follow you on every bus ride or street walk you ever take. No... I'm not some crazy stalker. I just salute the sublime skill with which you write about the minutiae of day to day America.

    'Muy fuerte' indeed.

    H

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Good piece Steve.

    It flowed well. Loved the negress bit, but then with my taste, I could associate well with the butt observer!

    I especially liked the detail & the atmosphere. Captured well.

    Best regards
    M.

  4. #4
    Phil Captain Pike's Avatar
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    You're safe, they're not reading...

    Ничего нет лучше для исправления, как прежнее с раскаянием вспомнить.

  5. #5
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    response to responses

    I just had the strangest idea. (What's new?) I was thinking about gravity and how I read somewhere that if you had a plumb-bob hanging near a huge box of sand and pushed the box near it you could actually measure it's pull on the bob.Then I got to thinking on the earth's core being molten lead. Then I thought, "But what if it's gold?"

    That lead to me thinking of my Nefertiti's womans' earrings. Wouldn't the earth's core pull on them then? So then I decided to revise my story like this:

    "Her stately chiseled Nefertiti face tries hard to reveal no emotion. ‬Large hollow gold bamboo earrings dangle in time with the tune. But whatís all this tugging? Theyíre not hollow earrings theyíre solid gold! Itís tugging her ear lobes. Itís being attracted gravitationally with the molten gold at the center of the earth, at its core.

    Scientists that tell you the core is lead are just lying. Itís gold. This gold hanging from her ears in the shape of bamboo is merely a gold-slave that is willing to mate with its master. Hence the attraction. Itís stretching her queen-sized ear lobes down to her shoulders. But no matter.

    A baby cries out.""

    My problem dear readers is that I feel that I'm going out on a limb here. This may be a little too much or a lotta too much. I'm not sure. Should I change it or what? Will they send the men in white coats after me or what? What might happen?
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 11-21-2010 at 05:37 PM.

  6. #6
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    Hate to disappoint you - but the Earth's core isn't gold or lead. More than likely it's molten iron (which is why magnetic compass needles align with the N and S Poles).

    And gravity is not affected by the type of metal inside a planetary body (or any other come to that) but rather the size of the body - the larger the body, the greater the attraction smaller bodies feel towards it. Makes you realise why Barry White was so hot with the ladies (and Meatloaf presumably)!

    H

  7. #7
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Hill,
    Thank you so much. I'm suddenly reminded of what Bogart told the Nazis in Casablanca when they asked him what he was doing there.

    "Rick, what are you doing in Casablanca?"
    "I came for the waters."
    "But Rick,there are no waters in Casablanca!"
    "I was mis-informed."

    That's it, I was mis-informed! That's what I like about this site. There's always someone who will help you out!

    Thanks Hill.

  8. #8
    Phil Captain Pike's Avatar
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    Rushing in to help you Steve...

    We think we're so smart, but really, we haven't the strangest notion of what gravity could be. Maybe, all the mining of the Sierra Madres (also, mostly Humphrey Bogart's fault)... the displacement of all those nuggets is what's responsible for the trembling uncertainty of the Pacific plates.

    The gold in the center of the earth (and, I like this idea -- the earth's center being pure gold) got a little touchy when its children were discovered, playing near the surface, and thus easily harvested by the opportunistic miners -- the mother lode got angry that we smelted down her children...

    What about the earthquakes happening BEFORE the 1890s, you say. Again, see, we think of time like some shopping list, starting at the top with the meat and the milk and moving on down to the more obscure spices , like tarragon, and items put on as an afterthought, red bull and a bag of those little, plastic corn cob holders.

    Time. Time period. That's a joke son. (Pink Floyd, now, they are the Shakespeare that will be being studied in another 500 years)
    We are such linear, sequential thinkers -- all this history stuff is really happening at once (all at the same instant), and the core of the earth was mad at us back in the dinosaur days because she knew what we'd be up to...

    Perhaps I should write my own post, eh?
    Last edited by Captain Pike; 11-22-2010 at 12:35 PM.

    Ничего нет лучше для исправления, как прежнее с раскаянием вспомнить.

  9. #9
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    One of the old bus stories for old time's sake. I'm feeling nostaglic. Not so nostalgic to move back up to LA, though.

  10. #10
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    I like this story. It is very quirky. I like that you put in so many peripheral characters; it really makes the experience come to life. I very much enjoyed the line where the narrator notices the man on the bus looking at the queen-like woman's behind. Very funny. :P I also enjoyed the irony of the following line: "So I walk two lights, save sixty cents, and learn something about myself in the process. That I’m too self-absorbed." Thanks for posting this.

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