Wally Gobetz (Port Authority Bus Terminal Subway Station, “Losing My Marbles” by Lisa Dinhofer)
10 p.m. It’s the bewitching hour at Port Authority Bus Terminal. It’s when the changeover occurs, from Commuter-land to Weirdo-ville. Even the gate numbers change. Bus 163 now arrives at Gate 409 instead of Gate 224. An endless corridor leads you to the 400 gates, or maybe it feels like that because you’re more tired. There are more tourists, young people, revelers, down-and-outs and oddballs.
It was Friday night after seeing a show. I thought the next bus was at 10:50, but that was the 164. The next 163 came at 11:05. Twenty minutes till then. The line was long.
“Can you take my jacket off? I’m like sweatin’, oh shit!” said a woman sprawled on a couple of those plastic pull-down plastic seats that can barely accommodate a toddler’s ass.
She was a dead ringer for Roseanne Barr, but much younger, in gray leggings and a loose black blouse. She was soused and loud.
Her boyfriend or the guy with her was a lean Latino of average height wearing a baseball cap. She addressed him and seemingly anyone in earshot.
She commented on a woman passing by, “A white girl got ass, what? Damn! I tell everybody to shut the fuck up.”
I could not hear what her boyfriend was saying, but I think he was trying to quiet her down.
“This be gettin’ some tonight,” she said, pointing to her crotch. “I’m gonna fuck him tonight.”
“What, you don’t like it?” She cackled, Roseanne Barr-like.
Finally the 11:05 pulled in.
The boyfriend led the girl to the back of the bus. I sat 3/4 towards the back.
A woman with two small children sat towards the back of the bus.
A white guy and the drunk girl continued shout-talking, every other word punctuated by “fuck” or “fuck you up.”
A 20 to 30-something African American man said, “Please, man, there’s children in here.”
“Fuck you!” the white guy said.
“Hey, I’m trying to reason with you, bro. Have some respect.”
“You wanna take it outside?”
The bus driver seemed oblivious to the back room antics.
“Come on, man, take it easy,” the African American man said.
“You gonna have to bail me out,” the loud guy said.
I fantasized about the bus driver stopping, letting the two guys off to settle their differences, bloody mayhem ensuing.
It felt like an eternity of back and forth, one guy shouting threats and curses and the other trying to stay calm and reasonable.
Sanity prevailed. By the time the African American guy was exiting the bus, the two had settled their differences.
“I’m just trying to get home,” the African American man said.
“Me too, bro. It’s all good,” the other guy said.
Peace, aside from the intermittent cackle from young Roseanne Barr.
Then she, her boyfriend and the white guy disembarked as well.
Heaven. I closed my eyes and relaxed for the rest of the ride home.