At the age of 17, I ran naked through an empty baseball diamond with a Dark Eyes vodka-soaked tampon up my ass and two morphine sulfate pills in my blood. I am not telling you this to shock you; undoubtedly as a modern media consumer you’ve seen and read far more shocking moments than mine. I tell you because, well I’ve never told anybody.
I ride the 17 bus is all. Makes me think of when I was 17. I’ve been riding the bus to and from work for about two years now. It feels like a lifetime.
I wait at my bus stop in the worn patch of grass by my sign; I call it my sign, because most days I am the only one waiting there. I pat the sign for motivation. I hold onto the galvanized steel post for support. The more you touch a thing, the more it belongs to you.
As I ran through the baseball field – the evening’s cold moisture a tickle to the pads of my bare feet, I watched my penis flop up and down like a crazed agreeing ostrich head. I felt something as close to a seagull gliding in a wind current as a person on the ground could feel. A sense of freedom I had yet to experience. A sense of freedom I have not experienced since.
When I was six, I hit my only home run of my baseball career on that field; my father ran along the third base line as the bleachers of parents applauded. In memory it stands as a great triumph.
Perhaps my only great triumph.
I had a Skatalites song in my head as I ran naked; it could have been any number of them. They, along with some Alton Ellis and Desmond Dekker, were stuck up there for some time. I dreamed of being a stoned and lazy skanker with days spent swatting flies outside a corner food mart of a roughly put together Caribbean city. I wanted to be stoned and warm.
I could have gone to the movies with Crystal Corderoy; snuck my hand between her jean waist and her soft plump skin. She could have gone down on me; I heard she went down early. Instead, I soaked the tampon in Dark Eyes and cheeked it to impress her. She didn’t care. I was wildly insecure at the time.
The morphine sulfate tablets had been in my pocket for a few days. I had them in a little paper button envelope. I swallowed them when Crystal left for the movies. Some summertime blockbuster.
I want the people on the bus to know that about me. I’ve been crazy before. I am not just a pudgy, bespectacled white dude with a reserved and quiet temperament. I used to be alive.
I want some recognition, too. I was shoving alcohol soaked tampons up my ass before any east coast suburban kid did it. Before local news stations caught on. I think that makes me hip. Maybe godfather hip.
I tell you to tell myself, mostly. Five to six days a week, waiting and riding the 17 bus. Who am I, but just another bus commuter? Feels desperate. Robotic. Bus rider programmed. I am not free.
I work for a bean packaging factory. We receive them from farms in South America, the Western United States and package them in fiber, nylon and plastic bags and load them on pallets and ship them out. I constantly wonder why the farms don’t package the beans themselves. It would help me find another job.
I have a surplus of dried beans in my apartment cupboards. Beans are a cheap commodity. They often spill from the mechanized feeder bowls on the packaging floor. The result is a bean bonus for the workers. A co-worker once told me he wished we worked in a gold packaging factory. “If these beans were gold, I’d be rich!” He exclaimed. I said that if he actually worked in a gold factory and the gold spilled he wouldn’t be allowed to take it home. He walked away from me.
I often want to bury myself to the neck in a giant vat of dried Garbanzos. Then I’d turn on a slow hose and let the vat fill, and as the beans expand I’d slowly get crushed in the process. I think it would be a remarkable way to die.
Lately, when the 17 approaches and screeches to a pause near my sign, and I board and nod to the driver and pick a padded plastic seat and squeeze in my earbuds and stare blankly through a window; I wonder if a seagull dreams of running along the ground.