I've been riding the bus more frequently in the past week, mostly because the weather in early May has been nastier than the weather in early March. I've had to leave the bike high and dry in the bike room and use the bus to get downtown.
Not entirely a bad deal . . . the bus ride, even a short trip downtown . . . often leads to something a suburbanite might live his entire life and never see or hear.
In my March 15 blog I wrote about my bus ride downtown in which I sat in front of a tortured urban poet. "I got knots in my wrists and bees in my hands from all the writin' downtown," she shouted a half-dozen inches behind my good ear.
Pure poetry, I had thought that day.
On Saturday I had a poetic shout-out on my way downtown. Only this one lasted for the entire trip.
I've been on a bus with this guy before, about a month ago, on the old 151 headed North. He got on at Water Tower Place and got off just north of the zoo.
Saturday he boarded the old 151 at Sheridan and Diversey, my bus stop.
You'd know this guy immediately if you saw him. He's well-dressed, with a nice checked shirt and a carefully knotted tie. He has long, shoulder-length iron-grey hair and is sort of a cross between a wild looking Clark Griswold, a surbanized Neil Young, and Barnard Hughes of the 1971 movie, The Hospital (I am the peroclete of Caborka, I am the wrath of the lamb and the angel of the bottomless pit . . .)
To hear the Peraclete of Caborka, forward to about 1:45 into scene . . .
He talks in an earnest, conversational voice in syntactic constructions that one would find natural, even lovely, in writing, but, when spoken, come across as REALLY weird.
The weird thing is that, most of the time, you have the feeling that he is speaking directly to YOU. This was disconcerting on that first ride because my faulty hearing made me believe that he actually was speaking to me.
That was before I realized he was nuts.
This time I knew what was coming when he got on in front of me at my stop. But the bus was crowded and we ended up sitting right across the aisle from one another.
"The vision I had from Jesus was a black shoe on a foot, and the black shoe means, 'Fly'," he began.
See what I'm saying?
But you can't understand it, really, until you hear it. Because when he says it, you feel yourself thinking, "Yeah, the black shoe means "Fly." Yeah, sure, I can see that." Because he says it so earnestly, so cogently, that it seems like it just has to make sense.
"Say I'm a Jew five times."
Really long pause. Exactly enough time for all of us near him to follow instructions.
"And that's how long it will take for God to see your darkness and throw you into the pit."
It's a continuing monologue . . . never more than ten seconds between the end of one thought and the beginning of another.
"Angels coming down form the rooftops . . . what's your name, angel?"
I resisted the temptation to look up at the roof of the Crate and Barrel store.
"But I'm Richard Harris, and you're going to live forever."
On and on and on.
The best part of all? It's Saturday, the second Saturday in May, bridge opening day.
So while five lucky muckety-mucks sail their sloops under the raised Michigan Avenue bridge, the rest of us sit on the old 151 in front of the Wrigley Building, motionless, trapped for ten minutes, listening to a non-stop narrative about angels, the pit and Richard Harris.
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