Fiction 2016 / Issues / Spring 2016 / Uncategorized / Volume 46

This Guy Should Have a Car—David Pounds

Man, fuck buses. The dregs of our society live on buses. And I don’t mean homeless people, like this isn’t my screwed up screed on the homeless or nothing. I just mean that it seems like if you are a terrible person or there is something wrong or offensive going on with you, you just live for buses. Like you go home, say “This isn’t right,” and then get onto a bus and shout at people about Obama or some shit, you know? Like honestly, I don’t blame this bus as like an individual. Buses as a breed are this shitty; this is me condemning buses as a race more than anything. What’s the worst is that I barely feel like I can articulate this right now, you know? It’s too goddamn early. What’s twisted about buses is it’s more than just the people because I know, like historically speaking, there have been decent people on buses. There’s other things going on with buses. They’re cramped, small, uncomfortable, and they have this terrible, uncanny, all municipal feel and shit. It’s like some guy in a suit who hates his job took the essence of a DMV and distilled into an aerosol, tasking other people who hate their jobs to spray it all over these stupid, big buses. What am I even saying; what’s happening? I don’t know. I don’t have the capacity for this right now. Today just isn’t happening, you know? God it’s early. It’s too early to be subjected to a stupid bus.

Wow, look at this guy. There’s a guy in a bathrobe on here. He’s wearing a headband, too? There’s a foot of snow on the ground outside and he looks like he’s been jogging. He’s got earbuds in, his hair is spiked, I think he’s wearing a smartwatch? I’m marvelling at this guy right now. He maybe encapsulates something good about buses. He’s the interesting end of the freak show you get on these things. He’s what I’d call eccentric. Or maybe like a hipster or something? It seems from just his whole look that this is more a statement than anything. There’s nothing wrong with this guy so much as he wants everyone to see him or doesn’t care at all. That’s judgey, but point is that he’s not offensive. He hasn’t assaulted anybody or asked for a ride to Des Moines or tried to steal my sneakers. I don’t think he’s even drooling, actually. It’s kinda nice. Buses are where we as a people air our dirty laundry. What terrible things have we done to people? What awful things have we created? Well, step onto any bus and you’ve got a schmorgisboard of refuse or despair. Gaze into the abyss that is public transit and wretch at what you’ve wrought. From the darkest corners of our earth they come shambling, tired and despondent. They weave themselves into our transit, emitting something so foul and powerful it transcends mere description and appearance. The fallow sediment that builds onto buses is one of such venom, it ruins all that it touches and defies any and all logic…

 

Man, If I didn’t have anywhere to be, I’d have the ability to enjoy a good bus ride, though. It’s like a philosophy bench or something. You’re just sitting, staring out your window; thinking and being entranced by the landscape and what all. That’s all philosophers do: they just stare at nature and ponder stuff, I think. That’s kind of like Frankenstein, too. Like Frankenstein’s not so much a book about a man who stitches together a corpse so much as it is a man looking at lakes and then mountains and then more lakes. It fit with the themes of the book, man versus nature, but it’s still not a cool story about a zombie guy, which is frankly what I signed up for when I started reading it. You go into that book thinking “Alright, it’s Halloween. Let’s get spooky and read about this dude who makes a zombie and has to kill it,” but the book is so not that. They should do a modern remake of Frankenstein. Do people do remakes of books? Can we get Mary Shelley on board? What’s she been doing? Probably being dead. Is that really excuse though, I mean ­­

Wait, what’s this guy doing? Okay, bathrobe guy has gotten up while the bus is moving and is doing stretches. Look at you. Aren’t you cool. I wonder what this guy’s like. Okay, story behind the bathrobe? I’m thinking one night stand and he got kicked out mid shower. Either that or it’s a fashion statement. What if it’s a disease? Maybe he breathes through his skin like a plant and needs to wear something airy or nothing at all. I’d feel really bad then. The one night stand doesn’t explain the headphones very well, though. He’s wearing running shoes, too and I’d expect him to be barefoot if that were the case. I don’t know why, but I think I hate this guy.

That’s so unfair and judgy, Christ. I’m just frustrated and unfocused because I’m on a bus and that’s what people do on buses: they get angry and space out. But really though, what else is there to do? Buses are so frustrating because everyone’s gotta be at a place to do a thing, but no one has any control and the bus is so damn big that it takes twice as long to do anything in traffic so everyone’s just stuck on a bus, trying not to be on a bus, but they have no control, so they’re on a bus. It makes everyone feel so powerless. Everyone on a bus is so small and puny, left to the terrible whim of the bus driver. Everyone’s made so impotent. It’s like purgatory or something. What we should really have are cannons that just shoot people places. Life would just be a really cool circus then. I wonder how big a trampoline you’d need on the other end. No, that’s stupid, I think circuses’ use tarps on the other end. A trampoline would just rebound you onto pavement… Or pneumatic tubes like banks have. Now that’d be transportation. If it’s good enough for money, why not me? What am I worth, dollar value wise? I bet loads of money have been transported by those tubes, and banks care more about money than people. You don’t see people traveling in tubes, they’re relegated to the dangerous shit like cars. They’re not good enough for the tubes. Damn I want a tube… Or a car.

Okay, what else is there to think about. I need anything else to burn this time. I was spacing out back there, and that was good, but now I need to do it again. I guess I could just

keep thinking about Frankenstein… My hat’s already over the fence Uh, my foot’s in the door; I’ve already opened this can of worms. What else. The cat’s out of the bag. Does that work? What am I doing. Again. God, okay, but Frankenstein: it really is a great book. What I’ve always respected the most about that book is how unusual it’s always felt to me. I make fun of it, but I think it’s really interesting that a lot of that book is just looking at nature. It has conflict and an arc, but it has such an interesting way of finishing its arc. It really takes its time and instead of indulging in it’s fantastical elements of reincarnation and a monster horror show, it really tries to slow things down and focus on incredibly unremarkable things. Most of that book is the main character talking with his best friend or his wife, and usually not about the blood­thirsty monster hunting him, but instead the beauty of what’s around them and the uncertainty of the future. I’ve always really respected that. I really like when an author breaks the standards of typical story stuff.

Back in creative writing classes, we’d all have to write stories about conflicts with interesting characters and arcs with resolutions and typical stuff, and that’s never been my thing, but ­­ oh wow. Did the bus stop? Are we here? What’s going on… Okay, this is just half a mile of walking from where I’m going. I can live with that. I just need off this bus…

…It is freezing out here. Jesus Christ, it is cold. And that guy back there was out here jogging? I can see my breath and I can feel my eyes. They’re like cold grapes in warm sockets. I’m grossing myself out. You know, that’s another thing: why do main characters have to be the most interesting? I bet jogger guy is way more interesting than I am. You look at me right now and I’m just bus guy whose only defining quality is bus, but that guy; that guy was something. He’s just a cool guy, and yet I can’t just change perspective to him. I’m boring and this is my life. What can I do about that? I can’t just change perspective to him right now. Stories should have more boring characters in them because I’m boring is what I’m trying to say, clearly. But really though, so many books and stories are about interesting people. I feel like human beings are a let down when compared to people in stories. It’s like our fiction just represents the coolest people with the coolest names, and no story’s ever going be about Bob who works a 7­11. Yet Bob can’t do anything about him being 7­11 Bob. Why don’t we write stories about the people who aren’t interesting and can’t do anything about it? They have to live like any other interesting, trilogy­worthy person. Is there just no value to them or their story? I don’t think I’d write a story about bathrobe, jogger boy, though. He was trying too hard. If I wrote a story about him his character would come off as trying way too much to be quirky.

 

My feet are cold… And stories all have to have resolutions and interesting conflicts, yet life never has any of that. Well, it does, but the vast majority of my conflicts are “I’m on a bus and I hate buses” or “Fuck, I want some Pringles right now, but don’t have any.” and a lot of the things in my life have narratively bad arcs and resolutions. Maybe I can see why you wouldn’t ­­ Wait, do I go left here? I only sort of recognize this street. I think I go left here. Yeah, no, I go left. But I can see why you wouldn’t write stories about the boring stuff, but at the same time does everything have to be grandiose or fantastical or important? Is fiction all escapism? Can you not write something entertaining without it being escapism? So few conflicts in life are at all surface level so interesting. And so few wrap up well or at all. You could get into a fight­­ God, it’s amazing out here. Early Sunday morning really is a magical time. It’s like the streets are empty and everything is still. It feels like a library in that it’s like reverenet. Reverent? What does that even ­­ but like everything feels so respectful and still and prestigious. Everything in the morning has this calm glow to it. Everything has this amber that bakes the buildings into something so much more beautiful than what they are. You look at a gas station right now and it’s glazed in this honeydew­ass hue that makes it exude this sort of majesty. I hate being awake this early, but at the same time, look at all this.

… I feel like there’s not as much closure in my life as there is in books. Even now, I still think about minor things from years ago. Often times questions and conflicts don’t even have answers. And like big things usually never leave anyone satisfied. You go through a breakup and often you and the other person still have strange, awkward feelings about each other you don’t truly understand until later in life when you can afford a therapist or something. I don’t know. Nothing ever feels as clean as it is in books. Everyone’s an emotional wreck that’s ideals are broken and reconstructed from moment to moment. Maybe I’m just projecting.

Writers always seem more interested in showing some grand battle of good versus evil or like some big emotional thing about a guy dying or whatever, but no one’s ever content to just have two people talking at a Subway, or like a guy looking at clouds while he walks his dog. Everything in fiction is so eventful, while I feel like even the best lives are by majority of moments uneventful. I can see why a writer would rather write about the bigger stuff in life, but maybe fantastical, epic stuff is just a crutch. It’s so easy to get a rise out of a reader when your main character’s riding a dragon and now he’s the chosen one and uh ­oh evil’s comin’. There should be books with more scenes of just people doing people things instead of grand journey, save the world things… Okay, where am I? Everything’s covered in snow and looks different than it did last summer. Oh, you know—­this isn’t where I need to be. I should have gone straight back there…

Maybe I need to read more. The stuff that gets popular isn’t anything mundane. It’s mainly life or death stuff. There’s probably a ton of stories I’d like out there. I feel like there’s a better way to articulate all of this. Maybe it’s good flawed though. That’s always been something that bothered me about creative writing classes is I’m skeptical about what to take in. What if the teacher tells everyone what to do and everyone comes out homogenized like the teacher? How many people come out of college or high school or whatever and are hugely successful writers

by any metric. It’s pretty low, right? So does that mean those people weren’t cut out for it or was there bad advice mixed in there. Is there some snake in the academic garden that gets a lot of people before they even start? We’re all a bunch of goats. I like goats. But we’re all a bunch of goats in a scrapyard, using our different dietary compasses to eat our way through. Some of us eat the cans of peas and we’re good while the rest try to eat a fridge and die. Was eating the fridge the goat’s fault? It didn’t know better. I like that metaphor, I should write it down. It needs work, but there’s something there. Maybe it should be goats at a garage sale. That sounds fun, honestly. It’s like a petting zoo, but way cooler.

I actually don’t know where I’m going anymore. I wish I had my phone. I circled back to this fork, but I’m positive I don’t go straight. Do I go right? I guess I’m going right. Maybe I should have stayed on the bus. You know that movie thing where people never say goodbye to each other on the phone? In movies it’s like every phone conversation ends with one person dramatically hanging up on the other, no matter how mundane things are. I feel like stories can be that way about everything. I couldn’t ever put it into words, but fiction can be so sterile or robotic. It’s like a lot of stories depict our world like our own only in concept, though there’s something fundamentally wrong about it. I’m officially lost so I have plenty of time to ruminate here. Time is no object so let’s do this. Let’s think…

But fuck buses, for real though. This beats riding a bus any day… You know, Moby Dick is a weird­ass book, too. You think that’s going to be a rad whale book, and then it starts with the main character having a gay experience and then 9 chapters before we even meet the captain. And then it takes like 20 to even see a whale. What I really like about that book though—Oh, look at you. Aren’t you special. A guy just walked past me wearing Google Glasses. No one uses those things, what are you trying to fucking prove dude? Uck. That’s the douchiest thing. That guy deserves to get mugged. I should mug him. One day I’ll actually mean that… But Moby Dick though.

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