Tag Archives: Buster

Buster’s Story

This is the thirteenth installment of a series about the Mountain Dude, a wandering guy with an ESP-like “gift”.  The Mountain Dude, some readers may recall, made a few enigmatic appearances in JJ in the 21st Century.

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“Tell me your story,” I said to Buster on the bus.

“I went to college. I had a family that didn’t understand me but loved me and wanted me to do good things. My grades were good. So they sent me to college. While I was there they died in a car crash and that was it. I was unhooked. I had no reason to be there and I was kind of broken and now saddled with debt. There were one or two good classes. Philosophy of Religion. History. But the rest was shit and most of the kids were shit, just kind of dumb big shots who hadn’t been told they were useless and dumb. But I told them, especially when I drank, and I didn’t make many friends that way. I have a big mouth. It was easy to just slip away. My older sister, she had to deal with the will and the aftermath of my parents’ death and I drop out and can’t handle anything and she just kind of cuts me off, takes the little inheritance and says if I’m not going back to school then too bad, no money. Well, fuck her then. I don’t need any largesse. So I go to work at this place, this property management place. I’m a handy man and cut the grass at a bunch of office buildings and apartment complexes. I meet the HVAC repair guys and let them in. I fix toilets. I fix a lot of toilets. It’s fine. The money’s fine. I have a small apartment in one of the buildings. I play softball. I even have a girlfriend from the team. The boss is a good guy and cuts me in on profit-sharing after a couple years. I guess I was what you would call happy. Or at least not unhappy. 2007. Then the bankers blew up the economy and there were vacancies and people just jumping out on their leases and evictions and soon there was no profit to share, no toilets to fix and no more softball. My boss was crying when he let me go. He was truly a good man but he was into a lot of real estate at the wrongest time ever. My girlfriend? She left. I pushed her away. Whatever. Things all just went to shit. It became clear then all those mortgages were crap, the usual people got rich and got out, and the usual dumbasses like me were left holding the bag. Then the feds go and bail out the banks! That’s when it was all clear. You know how we always joke and get little hot flashes of outrage when the sacks of shit who have all the money and power get away with murder? We shake our heads and vent about it and resign ourselves to our lives, which are good enough, after all. Don’t we all have a big screen tv? Those bailouts for all those bankers who all know each other and understand each other even. Then they’re all up there in Washington with the Fed claiming they saved the fucking economy! The same economy they wrecked!”

“Be quiet!” The shrill lady again.

“I try to wake people up. I’m a street preacher now and I have no illusions that I’m being heard. People are just comfortable enough to move on from the latest shooting, the latest outrage, the latest act of racism, the latest misogyny. Things are good enough for most people. Barely. But I aim to make people uncomfortable. Comfort and convenience are not worthy goals in life, especially with what’s going on. I want to inconvenience and discomfort you and everyone else.”

We were quiet and Buster looked out the window.

“That’s it,” he said. “I’m going to shut my eyes now.”

“All right.”

When we arrived in Denver I moved into the aisle to let him out. I was continuing on but he was going into the streets to preach and inconvenience people.

“You take care,” he said and shook my hand. “You keep wandering around but whenever you get the chance, you make people uncomfortable.”

“I don’t seem to have a problem with that,” I said.

“Well keep at it.”

“By the way,” I said. “You ever see a guy up in the mountains driving a black BMW? Tinted windows. Menacing.”

“You don’t ever want to meet that man,” Buster said. “You keep moving now, especially if he’s already seen you.”

“I plan on it,” I said. And he went down the aisle, down the steps, and I watched him walk into the terminal. He was gone.

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Buster on the Bus

This is the twelfth installment of a series about the Mountain Dude, a wandering guy with an ESP-like “gift”.  The Mountain Dude, some readers may recall, made a few enigmatic appearances in JJ in the 21st Century.

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After my brush with evil, I wanted to be off the road as I headed north to see Kat. I don’t want to disparage any form of transportation, especially since I’m essentially a misanthropic hobo. But the bus sucks. Hitch hiking takes effort and patience, but there’s a dignity and status to being a successful hitch hiker. The train evokes history and romance, especially if you only take it once in awhile. But the train is expensive. Walking is my favorite because it’s free (and you’re free) and you can keep your distance from others. But walking is slow and exposed. I needed cheap sheltered travel, faster than walking. So I took the bus.

I boarded a half-filled bus at a stop in front of a hardware store in Salida, Colorado, and scanned for an empty row. There were none. The problem? I needed to pick a seat partner for the next several hours with no prior knowledge or evidence of what I was getting into. Due to some remnant of childhood manners, I don’t like to sit down next to a sleeping person. But, everyone seems to share this etiquette, and the experienced bus rider knows this, so most of the passengers were either asleep or pretended to sleep in order to keep their single seat. The passengers who didn’t care and looked expectantly at me as I shuffled down the aisle and looked for someone not too obviously talkative or addled, these passengers presented a sort of carnival wheel of crazy people. Just spin the wheel. One seat is just as good (or bad) as any other.

I hate the bus.

I chose a seat next to a man who was peering out the window. I figured his lack of interest in my seat choice indicated a general indifference and perhaps maybe, silence.

Nope. My ass had hardly hit the seat when…

“It’s all going to shit,” he said.

“Oh yeah?” I started to rise and re-shoulder my pack.

“You don’t want to sit with me? I won’t talk.” He turned his head to look back out the window.

I was caught in an awkward crouch, half in the aisle, with my unwieldy gear and I noticed the driver giving me the stink eye for holding up the departure. So I slung my pack into the overhead and sunk down into the seat.

“It’s all gong to shit,” he said.

I sighed as the bus pulled away. Sometimes it’s best to let them have their say. “Oh yeah? What’s going to shit?”

“All of it. Everywhere I go. What’s happening out there?”

“I suppose you’re going to tell me.”

“Modernization. Globalization. Capitalization. The rich getting richer. No one calls them on it because they think they can get rich too. Not likely. Markets. Rigged markets only free when the rich make money but bailed out when they don’t. Pissed off people everywhere. Shooting people. Blowing shit up. Social media. Fecesbook and Shitter. That’s not human progress.

“Did you say Feces…

“People confusing comfort with progress, convenience with human advance. The promised gifts of the modern world are a sham. People are alone, only talking to people who all hate the same things. Makes it easier and easier to hate.”

“That’s all?”

“Oh buddy, don’t get me started.”

I was getting some impressions from this man (not just body odor). A sense of a stormy force growing behind a jagged ridge, seeking for a way over and out, determined and not resigned to being penned in.

“Tell me more about Fecesbook and Shitter,” I said.

“All that bullshit. Tweeting. Keeping in touch, friends doing friendly things. Guess what? It’s also a conduit of evil. I’m not just talking China or Russia or Trump here. It’s a conduit for spiritual evil. Coveting. Soul destroying desire. Let me tell you a story…”

“Keep it down!” A shrill ladies voice from the seat behind. So he leaned closer and I got the dry rot of his breath to go with the moist rot of his body.

“Let me tell you my story,” he said. “But you tell me to shut up if you need a break. Deal?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Name’s Buster,” he said and offered a hand.

“Dude,” I said and took it. “Mountain Dude.”

“Mountain Dude? What’re you running from, Mountain Dude?”

“Tell me your story,” I said.

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