Quiet on the Bus
by Alex Azar
Bruce Robert Tanner has a rage within him, a rage that manifests itself as a hulking behemoth. The only thing that can abate the rage if it becomes agitated is Miles Davis' “Blue in Green.” The melodic notes send Robert to his happy place.
In this time of technological advancement, Robert refuses to upgrade his 1st gen MP3 player that holds less than a gig's worth of music. All he needs is “Blue in Green” and he's happy. The MP3 can play at a volume of 50, but Robert finds 25 ideal; not too loud but loud enough to block out most distractions.
The MP3 is especially needed today. The August heat beating on him through the window of the crowded bus is relentless. Coupled with the broken A.C. and standstill traffic, Robert tries to lose himself in Miles' trumpet, raising the volume from 25 to 30.
Making it worse, there's a baby crying two seats in front of him, whose mother is oblivious of, unable to pry herself from her phone conversation. Volume from 30 to 35. There's also an Asian couple sitting on either side of the aisle. Robert can't tell if they're arguing or not but he's positive they're talking too loud. 35 to 40.
“Can you keep it down please? No one wants to hear your conversation.” He says it to no one in particular, hoping everyone will listen. They don't. Later, he'll think maybe the Asian's didn't even understand him, and it's not the baby's fault.
The traffic lets up and the bus finally starts moving. The two men behind Robert begin a conversation about the heat. “Really? You're talking about the weather. Please, just keep it down.” 40 to 45.
At that point, a woman standing in the aisle dials a number on her phone. “Hi honey, I'll be home in five.”
“How was that necessary?1?” 45-50
Momentarily the bus quiets down, and Robert can see the bus driver looking back. The moment passes and the conversations resume. 50.
The baby continues to cry. 50.
The bus breaks screech. 50.
The cacophony is enough to drown out “Blue in Green,” Robert can't hear the piano, or even Miles' trumpet. He tried to stem the rage, but the intrusive conversations begged for him to join them.
Despite his efforts, the rage took over and Robert was no longer there on the bus. After a few short minutes of unbridled rage, Robert returns to find the bus in complete disarray and no passengers left alive, except for the little baby still crying.
Robert is now sitting on a medical gurney, with an EMT checking his pupils. “Heh.”
“Is something wrong, sir? You seem to have survived the crash with no injuries.”“Hmm? Oh, would you be able to charge my MP3?”