by Usagi Anami (兎あなみ)
Even if I could fly, even if I could teleport, even if I could be carried on a litter by a retinue of oil-slicked, muscled, and shirtless men, even if I could afford a car, I’d still prefer to ride the bus.
It’s true that the bus has the occasional screaming baby, screaming six-year-old and screaming mother of the screaming six-year-old. It’s true that there’s the occasional homeless guy with holes in the back of his pants and no underwear, trying to ride for free and muttering under his breath about messages from Tokyo Tower. It’s true that there’s that one driver who glares at anyone under thirty and rants endlessly to nobody in particular about how people nowadays have no work ethic, no sir. But it’s also true that riding the bus is never, ever boring.
The route to I take to work in the morning is always crowded. About a quarter of the people riding are forced to stand up, pressing themselves flat against the seats to make way for new people, wriggling to make sure not even their clothes touch anyone else’s. The moment a few seats open up and offer a little breathing room, someone will zip over from where they were, even if they already had a seat, just so that there’s no one next to them.
Even on the quieter bus routes I’ve observed the same behavior. The fact is that the more room there is on the bus, the more people spread themselves out, putting as many rows of seats between each other as they can. It’s probably some kind of undiscovered law of physics, like The Anti-Conservation of People on Buses Law.
It’s a crush of strangers traveling together, determined to remain strangers. I’m not sure if this is a metaphor for the human condition, a manifestation of the zeitgeist, or just the way people are on the bus. And the best part is that when people are doing their best to not look at each other, it means they aren’t watching me watch them.
It’s not like I’m some stalker or something. I’m not like some creep with binoculars watching people undress. I’m a strictly legal voyeur. It’s not my fault if people tend to completely forget their surroundings and betray themselves in the worst way. And anyway, I’m not interested in particular people; it’s more like I’m interested in the particulars of people. Just one or two things about a person will catch my attention before I’m distracted again. My senses always bounce around, drifting from detail to detail to detail: a flash of rhinestones on a belt buckle. The wet rattle of a smoker’s cough. The zigzag of a hair part showing scalp. The buzz of a cell phone conversation. A splatter of freckles. A tattoo tapped out on a cane. The riddle of a half-hidden tattoo. A blast of overbearing perfume. The glitter of lip gloss. The beat of obnoxious techno music playing too loudly on someone’s headphones. All this, and all with the constant judder and rumble and fart and scrape and squeak and beep of the bus underpinning it all.
It sure beats playing Sudoku on my cell phone.
The bus wheezes to a stop. This kid steps on. He’s nineteen, probably; twenty-one, tops. His eyes are clear, not bleary like most kids’ would be at this time in the morning. He’s got this big trench coat that he’s wearing around his shoulders like a cape. Anyone else doing this would look like a poser who had watched too much One Piece, but somehow he manages to pull it off. Maybe it’s because he’s so tall, or maybe it’s those big blue eyes that make him seem just the slightest bit unreal.
By this time there aren’t any seats left. He finds a patch of floor to stand on, opposite me. The two of us are tucked into the niche right next to the back door. He looks at me and smiles, and then he keeps on looking and keeps on smiling. It’s a bit disconcerting for me, like how in the middle of a movie or a show the actors will look right at the camera. I guess breaking the fourth wall is supposed to be funny, post-modern, or something, but I’ve always found it a little bit scary.
He’s still looking at me. I can’t tell if he’s looking at me, or if he’s looking-looking at me. My gaydar tends to malfunction when I’m in a moving vehicle occupied by more than thirty people, or at least, that’s what the instruction manual said. My gaydar might also not be up-to-speed on account of the fact that my closest experience with actual gayness was going to The Mixx and watching guys dance.
I heard someone say once that if you don’t have sex for a month, you won’t have sex for a year. With those kinds of numbers stacked up against people, it’s amazing that anybody manages to have sex with anybody. According to the math, if I don’t have sex by the end of this month then I won’t be having sex for another 336 years.
He holds his hand out, flexes his fingers, and looks at me like he’s about to perform a magic trick. His finger hooks into the straps of my apron and yanks me toward him. My sleepy gaydar is blaring red alert. Those big eyes look down on me. He says something, so soft I can’t quite hear over the bus, the people, and my heart, but from how he looks at me I’d guess it was a question. I manage a nod.
He’s touching my face now; he’s touching my neck. His hands smell like sandalwood and sweets. His fingers are huge and gentle, dragging all over, making my blood jump. His coat flares out like a cape, all Dracula-like, wrapping me up in him. And for my part, I’m feeling a bit like Mina Harker with a hard-on. I look into his eyes and I can’t move. I don’t see anything in his eyes, not even my reflection. I can’t believe this is happening.
Correction: I can believe this is happening. These things happen. I know because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen boys jerking off, I’ve seen girls sucking off their boyfriends, and I’ve seen a guy the size of a gorilla fuck a tiny Japanese thing underneath a trench coat at half-past midnight. So these things happen. I just don’t believe this is happening to me.
Things just don’t happen to me. Things just aren’t supposed to happen to me. I’m supposed to be like Emerson’s universal eyeball, watching the world without ego, without boundaries, without skin. And then his fingers brush over my lips, while his other hand gets under my apron, reminding me that I’ve got an ego, that I’ve got skin and um, oh, nerves and wonderful, sexy signals pinging and ponging between his fingers and my brain.
The one downside to suddenly being corporeal is the reminder that I don’t transcend my surroundings. I’m painfully aware that this guy is touching me before God, squalling babies, public transit employees, and women doing crossword puzzles. Anybody could see. When I look around, I see that nobody is watching. Almost everyone on the bus is half-asleep, texting, talking on their phones, staring out the window, playing video games, reading, or simply super self-absorbed. I’m not universal, but at least I’m still invisible.
I feel his hand on my hard-on through my jeans, not really stroking or rubbing, just feeling the shape of me. It’s almost too much, but I hold back and don’t let myself come. I don’t think he wants me to, not quite yet. He’s in control, he’s completely in control but it’s all right because it’s not Dracula mind-control. It’s more like I’ve forgotten how to drive so I’m letting him get behind the wheel and take me where I need to go, where I’ve wanted to go for a long, long time.
He grinds the heel of his palm down on my cock, and despite my self-control and his benevolent mind-control, I completely lose control and soak my underwear in less than a minute.
But instead of looking disgusted or laughing, he grins and whispers right in my ear, “So, do you come here often?” His voice is softer than I would have guessed. No wonder I couldn’t hear him.
If I were the one watching this, I’d just groan and roll my eyes. But things are different when you’re watching from the inside. Maybe it’s because I just came, but what he said seems like the best thing to say, the only thing you really could say. So I grin right back at him and fall a little bit in love.
“Here,” He presses something in my hand. It’s a Monopoly card – advance to go.
Oh, come on. Seriously? I mean, seriously? Does he actually think that will impress anyone? What a dork. Does he actually think that going to make me fall a little bit more in love with him? Well, he might be right. There’s no accounting for taste, after all.
And as far as my boss is concerned, there’s no accounting for me being thirteen minutes late to work because I missed my stop. It’s not until after work that I realize there’s a number written on the back of the card.