The Unremarkable Man on the Route 46 Bus

An unremarkable man, wearing an unremarkable pair of jeans and unremarkable long sleeved shirt, stepped onto the Route 46 bus as it juddered to a halt at the Route 46 bus-stop. He flashed his monthly bus-pass at the driver who waved him into the interior of the bus (without looking at the man’s unremarkable picture and name on the bus-pass). The man walked unobtrusively into the bus, which was quite a feat as it was an early Monday morning and the bus was packed full of early Monday morning commuters, dressed in suits or geared up for the gym.

There were, of course, no seats available on the bus, and so the man had no choice but to hold onto one of the rails and stand, in an unremarkable fashion, as the bus began trundling out of the station with much clanking, banging and groaning.

It was good that two other passengers had gotten on at the same stop as the man had, or the people on the bus would have been very confused as to the reason the bus driver had stopped. No passengers had gotten off, and nobody had actually noticed the unremarkable man got on the bus at all, so it was good that the old man and his small granddaughter had been waiting at that particular Route 46 bus-stop as well. When people looked over as the unremarkable man, their gazes slid off him and they would focus on their neighbor’s magazine or the sunlight outside or the Route 46 map that hung right above the man.

The unremarkable man, used to this sort of treatment, didn’t even try to dominate the space he stood in. Instead, he let the space float around him and he let people’s eyes slide away from him, and he focused on his first project of the morning: the little girl who had gotten on with the old man at that particular Route 46 bus-stop. The girl was almost as unremarkable as the man, he thought; she was quiet, focused only on the ragged teddy-bear in her arms, and seemed not to notice her grandfather’s wheezing and coughing as he unfolded a newspaper and ignored her. The girl’s hair was an unremarkable brown, not shiny or bouncy or curly, but simply lying limply and often obscuring her face as it swung back and forth with the motion of the bus. The girl’s face, half hidden by the unremarkable hair, was plain and expressionless as she stared at the teddy-bear on her lap and twisted his ears in an absentminded way.

The unremarkable man was usually drawn to flashy characters – women in orange spandex suits fiddling with their sunglasses and purses, clowns on their ways to birthday parties looking grumpy and hot in their makeup and outfits, suited men and women who seemed only to be waiting for their next cigarette and who shouted on their cellphones. Today, though, the unremarkable man decided he was interested in an unremarkable girl. He focused his thoughts on her, and her eyes snapped up to look into his. And there it was, for a split second.

…grandaddy is so boring he’s reading the newspaper again and mr. snuffles is bored because i’m bored too and why does grandaddy have to take me to kindergarten anyway i mean he isn’t as funny as mommy is on the bus and anyway he doesn’t talk to mr. snuffles like mommy or daddy do and i’m hungry but grandaddy said that buying ice-cream early in the morning would make my teeth rotten but i don’t care because i like dr. leslie that dentist who mommy took me to because she gave me a sticker and a lolly-pop and said i was a good little girl and that my teeth would never be rotten if i kept coming to see her and mommy laughed and patted my hair and said we’ll keep coming back to see dr. leslie and miriam is going to bring me a brownie her mom made today to kindergarten and maybe mommy will pick me up and grandaddy won’t be with her anyd then i won’t have to sleep at his house tonight and i’ll be able to go home and watch barnie with mommy and then go to bed with my yellow blankets and mr. snuffles will be happy because mommy will sing us a lullaby

The unremarkable man broke his eye-contact with the girl, who promptly turned away and continued to twist Mr. Snuffle’s worn-out ears. The man almost gasped. His brow was dripping with sweat. For a moment, everyone on the bus almost noticed him standing there. Then the moment passed, and the man calmed himself, smiling in such a manner which in anyone less unremarkable would seem to be amused. I’VE GOTTEN LAZY, thought the unremarkable man. I’LL HAVE TO FIND SOME MORE LIKE THAT GIRL. SUCH VIVIDNESS COULD LAST FOR WEEKS. WHO KNOWS? MAYBE OTHERS LIKE HER WILL MAKE ME REAL AGAIN.