Standing on the Nine

The man with the graying hair sits alone and alternates his right hand between his grizzled beard and his swiftly vanishing hair. He repeats the motion again and again and again, and I watch him for the duration of my trip. He could be that way all the time. It could be a comfort. Perhaps he is not comfortable around these people. The bus can be mean without uttering a word. He carries a milk crate full of stuff. Boots, some lunch remnants, and a white smock poke through the plastic beams. From the looks of his heavy, cracked fingers, I surmise that he cannot afford a backpack or suitable gear stowage equipment. He pulls his January bus pass from his coat and places it in his left hand (right hand still going through the hair), looks down upon it like it were a key of silver. The pass is crinkled and pasted beyond recognition. Runs his hands to his head again. Turns around to survey the scene. Just us nighttimers on here. He picks up his device and steams out. After he is gone, I look at my crumpled transfer. It’s the same color as the man’s hair.