Long black coats

Long black coats

He walks up the side of the bus against traffic, waving a dark chamois in his dirty fingerless-gloved hand. He wears a drab khaki or desert-sand shirt and pants, and two long black coats, one over the other even in the shimmering August sun.

A lit cigarette dangles from his lips, the white smoke somehow seeming too thick. He is terrifying. No. He terrifies me.

The bus ride is over and he’s already scarier. My brain wanted to remember him with a bandana or mask obscuring the lower half of his face, but I immediately remember with something like shame that this is not correct.

I stopped thinking about him for a time and he became a gunslinger, a haunted old-West murderer. In reality he was trailing one of those big suitcases on wheels with the handle behind him. He was scary. He was

Shouting something. He was shouting something, what, I couldn’t hear. Didn’t particularly want to hear. Jesus told me to calm down and love this man so I did, but somehow I still didn’t want him to get on the bus.

He just sauntered across five lanes of lunch-hour traffic with that big black suitcase like he wanted to die. I think that’s what scared me. I mean there was the cigarette, the cigarette with the too-white smoke, and the long black trenchcoats, plural. His face was as though featureless, or as if nothing but the cigarette could abide.

Honestly, he looked like a white nationalist terrorist strolling towards airport security, ‘cept outside a Starbucks at a strip mall in Michigan. The smoke off his cigarette was too white, and it looked like a uniform under those coats. Then

There he was, strutting up the side of the bus against traffic, waving that chamois around scarier than any old gun. Shouting. Shouting something, – what, I could or did not want to hear. Was he wearing a hat? Why can’t I remember that? Oh, I just didn’t want him to get on the bus, you know?

And then he walked past the back of the bus and I never saw him again.

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