Thursday, April 26, 2012

Excerpt from Dreaming of Babylon by Richard Brautigan

Quickdraw Artist

Suddenly I realized where I was at and like a quickdraw artist in a cowboy movie my hand flew up and pulled the cord to stop the bus.  I got out just in time.

Another few seconds and I would have missed my stop.

Dreaming of Babylon is a tricky business.

One miscalculation and you're blocks beyond your stop.

Fortunately, this was my last bus trip and I wouldn't have to worry about missing my stop anymore.  Thank God.  Once I went all the way to the end of the line dreaming of Babylon and I didn't have enough money to get back and the driver wouldn't let me ride for free, even after I had explained to him that I didn't have any money and told a lie to him, that I had fallen asleep.

"I hear stories like this all the time," he said, with a remarkable lack of concern for my plight.  "You can't ride my bus with stories for a fare.  I want a nickel.  If you don't have a nickel, get off my bus.  I don't make the rules.  It costs a nickel to ride.  I'm just a working stiff, so get off my bus."

I didn't like the way the son-of-a-bitch kept saying "my bus" as if he owned the God-damn thing.

"Do you own this bus? I said.

"What do you mean?" he said.

"I mean, do you own this bus?  You keep saying 'my bus' so I thought maybe you owned the fucking bus and you take it home with you and sleep with it.  Maybe you're even married to it.  This bus is your wife."

I didn't get to say anything else because the bus driver knocked me unconscious with one blow right there from his seat.  It was lights out.  I came to about ten minutes later, sitting on the sidewalk, leaning up against the front of a drugstore.

To have the perfect ending for a bus trip was what woke me up.  It was a dog peeing on me.  Maybe he thought that I looked like a fire hydrant.  Anyway, those days were over.  I had eight hundred bucks in my pocket and this had been my last bus trip.

When I got off the bus, I turned around and yelled "Fuck you!" at the driver.  He looked bewildered.  It served him right.  No more dogs were going to pee on me.


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