The bus finally approached, shaking slightly along the uneven poorly-lit street. Feeling tired and relieved, as usual, he waited for the doors to open and mounted the front steps. He nodded the driver a lukewarm good evening and made for the turnstile in the middle of the empty aisle.
He pressed his wallet against the reader as he held on to the railing; this bus always took that sharp turn-and-slope at the corner. Lifting his backpack, he pushed his weight on to the back aisle as he quickly panned around the rear for an unoccupied double seat. It didn’t matter much, though.
As he came closer to the back seat, he spotted the faces of two guys sitting in the center; one an unknown generic profile looking out the window and the other a young man with his forehead half-covered by the hood of his black jumper. All was black on and around him: the pants, a jacket, tattoos on his hands and his undistinguishable gaze. This guy, however, he knew.
He looked down at his boots to avoid looking at his face, for he noticed in the half-light what he reckoned was the shape of a sleeping woman leaning on his side. He shouldn’t look. He came within a yard and simply nodded slightly; before he’d had the time to turn, the guy blinked back meaningfully, still motionless, in recognition.
He knew –he figured. He turned and sat on the window seat one row ahead, placing his backpack on his lap as he turned up the music on his phone headset. It might be a long short ride. Nothing happened.
Faces look ugly when they eye you as a stranger. The traces of a grip known, or perhaps faintly remembered still, yet obliterated in pretense and the numbness of a public non-encounter.
Maybe it was just a big bag after all. Not his, for he didn’t come say hi at all anyway but he did get off the bus a few stops down the second avenue, his hands in his pockets and his head hanging low under his hood, as he’d once come.