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PASSENGER
BY RACHEL SUMMER TUPELO

Thereís a man sitting in the back of my bus with his pants around his ankles, and heís shitting. Heís fucking taking a shit. And heís also taking up two entire seats, and he paid his fare in nickels. And so Iím pulling over all of a sudden to kick this junkie off my bus, and Iím watching him in the rearview, and I sideswipe a goddamn cherry convertible. So I say fuck the convertible, and even though the driver is screaming at me I run to the back of the bus and start shoving that shitter off the seat, trying to control myself from vomiting all over him. I push him out onto the street and yell at everyone else to get off the bus and wait for the next one, and just when I turn around to go radio in and explain what Iím doing not running my route all of a sudden because this cracked out fat ass heroin addict just took a shit on my bus, the cherry's driver comes up to me - on the bus - and starts reeling off a list of all the adjectives I am, and so I take a handful of shit and wipe it in his face and I tell him to eat it. He breaks my nose, and I lighten him by a couple teeth. And then Iíve shoved him off and closed my doors, and I have shit on my hands and in the back of my bus and this jerk is on his calling the police on his fucking car phone and I just canít wait to tell them all about it. And thatís when I realize the fucked up shitting man on the back of my bus was fucking Jerry Garcia, and I pull her into gear because by now heís halfway up the street and Iíve got to catch up if I want to pick him up again and drive him back to his hotel or whatever, get him cleaned up.  So the cherry man is now following me, and heís a real smooth asshole, giving my position to the cops while driving behind me half a block where I stop the bus again and this time run out to the guy who took a crap on the back of my bus and when I take a good look at him from here, suddenly I canít tell if heís Jerry Garcia or not. So I say, Arenít you Jerry Garcia? And he says, You got me. And I say, You just took a shit on my bus, Jerry Garcia!  Where you staying around here? Because this is Cleveland, Jerry Garcia doesnít live here. So he says, the Paramount. And I say, Ok, hop back in. And flicks a hundred dollar bill at me and I realize he must have been getting a huge kick out of paying me in fucking nickels before. So Iím ushering him onto the bus and the cherry convertible Smoothie has gotten out of his car again and heís all up in my face again like Why did you smear shit on my face, you bastard? And all this other stuff about litigation, etc. And I say, Iíve got Jerry Garcia here!  Donít you know I have to get him back to the hotel before the show tonight? And Fuckwad says, I donít care if youíre driving around Jesus Fucking Christ, you have to watch where youíre going! And I say Fuck you and Jerry and I have made it safely onto the bus without another physical fight and weíre off towards the hotel. The cherry convertible driver doesnít follow us but I decide to count that as a blessing. So Jerry and I are driving along and I say, You donít look so good, man. And he says nothing, because heís totally fucked up and asleep. So what I decide to do is, I decide that instead of bringing him straight to the hotel like I think we agreed I was going to do, I would bring him over to Virginiaís house for a few minutes and just show her, to prove it because I knew she wouldnít believe me if I just told her about it after work. Weíre cruising down E and I make some familiar turns. Iím hoping Popeye is there with her, so I can kill two birds with one stone before getting Jerry back to the hotel like I'm still fully intending on doing. We pull up and I put on the hazards and honk the horn a couple times. Jerry's snoring pretty loud so Iím not worried about him going anywhere. When I open the door I spy Virginia giving me the finger from behind her plasticky white curtains on the third floor of her triplex sheís the owner and landlord of. I hate when she acts like this. Virginia! I call up. Iím driving Jerry Garcia home!  and the jerk on the second floor sticks his head out his window and tells me to stop yelling. I say Fuck you, Iíll yell if I want to and he throws a full beer down at my head. I duck and it just misses me. Virginia is coming down now, though, I can see her through the windows to the stairwell descending and she slides back the bolt and pulls open the door. And then her greeting is, Your nose is broken. What the fuck do you want? I ignore this. Youíll never guess who I picked up today, I say. And she says who. And I say, Jerry Garcia!  Is Popeye here? Virginia says did you just come over here to see if Popeye was going to spend the night with me? and I say, well is he? And she says thatís none of your goddamn business. I say Virginia. Forget about this. Come meet Jerry, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!  And she says, you are so fucking full of shit. Then she gets kind of quiet, smelling the air and sees my hand. Now that Iíve calmed down a little, I notice that too. Youíve got shit on your hand, she says to me matter of factly, but of course I inform her that itís Jerry Garciaís shit. Thatís when the cherry convertible shows up with the police. Virginia raises her eyebrows obnoxiously.  The police are getting out of their cars. But I can explain everything. Itís kind of exciting, actually, flashing lights and all. Up behind the plastic curtains I can see Popeyeís naked torso and I know I interrupted coitus and that makes the whole scene even better. Thereís two officers with the cherry convertible guy, I guess Iím an armed criminal or the Cleveland Police are just bored today, and everyone starts talking at once. Is that feces on your hand? Did you crash into this manís vehicle? This asshole smeared shit all over me. Who are you maíam? I donít know this man. These are the things people are shouting. I say, okay okay!  Letís go to the bus and everyone can see for themselves. So thatís what we do, and Iím fumbling with the keys Iím so excited, and there he is, and I make a gesture of See? And You Didnít Believe Me. Are you Jerry Garcia, sir? says one of the officers. And Jerry Garcia snores in his sleep. The policeman reaches around and then finds Jerry Garciaís wallet. And then he opens it up and starts laughing. He shows me the ID and says, Richard Rumford. And youíre under arrest. And I say because Jerry Garcia has a fake ID and took a shit on my bus and I got into an accident while distracted? And the officer says, no, because this woman has a restraining order on you and youíre breaking it. For the third time. And in an eyeblink there goes my job, because the police are going to find that I did have just a little bit of open alcohol in the bus, just a fifth of vodka and theyíll probably jump to the conclusion that I was drinking, and whether or not thatís true theyíll fire me for driving with open containers of alcohol and anyway I am drunk. Just a little. They cuff me which I think is unnecessary and Iím riding in the back of the cruiser to the holding cells Iím sure. Itís not the first time. But Iím a little sad, because I was pretty sure Virginia would have come with me to see the Dead that night after Jerry Garcia woke up from his heroin stupor when Iíd driven him back to the hotel and heíd have given me and the lady two VIP passes to the show that night, in gratitude. So instead of listening to Help Slip Frank Iím going to jail, and Iím smearing Jerry Garciaís shit all over the cab of the cruiser. Are you listening to me up there? You assholes?

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/tupelo.html]

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