Chicago Transit

Contributor: Bob Skoggins

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The bus creaked forward, people still shuffling in to fill the empty seats. Some were in suits. Some were in hoodies. Some were wearing shorts, their skin bumpy from the cold. It was crowded and loud and warm on the city bus. It traveled from Jarvis to Dan Ryan on the south side of Chicago. It carried all kinds of people.
A young couple sat in the back. The girl was wearing a backpack, having gotten out of a class at Harold Washington College. Her husband was in a suit. A struggling realtor. They lived on Garfield.
“We should have walked. This is taking too long,” he said.
“I’m not getting off.” She scooted away from him.
“Or taken the L,” he said. “But I hate the L. I hate the bus.”
“I’m moving,” she said.
“You know I didn’t mean anything by it,” he said. “You talk to him too much. I want you to stop. That’s all I was saying.”
“Goodbye.” The girl picked up her backpack, looking at an empty seat next to a handsome Asian. It would bother her husband if she sat next to him. “I can talk to who I want. I can sit where I want. I’m moving.”
Her husband touched her arm and she lowered herself back onto the seat and looked at him. “You’re embarrassing me,” he said.
She raised her voice. “I’m not getting off because my husband is a pig.”
Some people turned their heads and the husband smiled, nodding at them. The lady in front of them laughed.
“They are listening,” he said.
“I don’t care. Let them.”
“Or what? You won’t do anything here.”
“I might.”
The girl ignored him as he stared at her. “I’ll drag you if I have to,” he said.
She laughed. He leaned in closer. “If you don’t stop this, you know what I’ll do.”
“You won’t do anything.”
“When we get home.” He bit his tongue and shook his head. “Woman,” he said. “I’ll kill you. You know I will do it.”
“Go ahead. I’m not getting off.” Her voice grew louder again. “My husband is going to drag me off of this bus and when we get home he is going to kill me.”
People shifted in their seats and the lady in front of them laughed again. The husband smiled and nodded again, but only with his teeth, his eyes serious and wide. “Don’t make a scene,” he said.
“You’re making the scene,” she said. “I can talk to who I want to.”
“Not the way you two talk.”
“He’s a friend.”
“It’s more than that.”
“You’re paranoid.”
The bus stopped and the driver said over the speaker, “Forty-seventh.” The handsome Asian got off and the bus started moving again.
“Our stop is next,” said the man. He pulled the wire running along the bus windows and a bell rang. “Let’s get off.”
“I’m not going to.”
“I’ll drag you. These people won’t remember us.”
“They already remember us.”
He grabbed her arm. “You’re getting off.”
She jerked away from him. “You don’t have the guts to drag me here.”
The husband lifted a hand to slap her and she flinched and stood up. “I’m not the one going to get killed when we get home,” she said. “I’m calling my brother.”
And then the man slapped her. He had never done it before. The girl looked at him in shock as the bus slowed down and stopped, and the folding doors swung open. She got up after her husband and the couple walked up the aisle and got off.
A new group shuffled in and the bus creaked forward.

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