A familiar face entered the bus, bending like a willow tree reaching for water. Reaching into his boot, he pulled out a wad of bills, slipping a $20.00 into the fare machine. “Gimme a day pass and keep the change.”
“What change? You know the rules, Leon,” the bus driver shook his head, and slipped the man a day pass. “Best I can do.”
Each and every time Leon coughed made his body shake and seemed to pass tubercular residue from his lungs. Finally, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road—near the remains of an old bus stop—swaying and creaking in the brisk autumn air. Then, loud enough so all the other passengers could hear him, the driver spoke. “Hey, Leon. This is where your sister told me to leave you off; she’ll be by to get you an hour or so.”
The driver then winked at a young woman between 18 and 20 who sat behind him on the bus. Ignoring his flirtation, she spat out the window and uttered “I’m Leon’s sister, dumb shit!”
“Huh?” the bus driver started, unsure what to do.
“He was supposed to meet me on this bus, so I could take him to the hospital. You ruined that, didn’t you old man,” she snapped, glaring back at the driver.
“Sorry. Listen. I’ll turn around and we’ll get him, Ms.”
“Ah hell; keep going!”
“Yeah. You can drop me on Flamingo Road—between Paradise and Swenson, near the Silver Sevens Casino.”
“What about your brother?”
“We weren’t ever close.”
“He certainly didn’t seem to recognize you,” affirmed the driver.
“True. No matter; I’d rather spend the day alone at the joint Atomic Testing and Area 51 Museum anyway.”