Truth on a Bus

The truth was on a bus, headed uptown. Earlier in the day, the truth had been on the very same bus headed downtown. The truth had been on the bus a long time, because it didn't know what stop to get off at.

The driver, being like most people, took little notice of the truth, even when it stayed on his bus run after run, uptown, downtown, uptown, downtown. Besides, the truth had paid its fare when it got on like everyone else, and didn't bother anyone.

People got on the bus, sat down and stared at some point the truth couldn't see in the middle of the bus, and then got off a few stops later. They all seemed to know where to get off. This is what worried the truth, which had no idea where it was going, and in fact, had nowhere to go.

It was getting late. Even though the busses ran all night, eventually this particular bus would have to go home to eat and sleep.

And what would become of the truth then? The driver would have to confront the truth, tell it to get off the bus and move along now. The truth was worried about this possibility, because people could sometimes behave quite irrationally when confronted with the truth. The driver was not worried about this impending confrontation, mostly because he didn't know about it.

All day long the truth had been on the bus, staring out the bus window, looking at plush department stores with crowds standing outside them, at large high rise apartments guarded by small men in complicated uniforms, at gaudy churches, at busy newspaper stands and crowded fruit stalls, then at discount electronics stores with day-glo advertisements in the windows, at fleabag hotels and hopeless tenements, but none of them seemed to have room for the truth.

The truth looked deeply into the faces of the people walking in a hurry down the street, or waiting in a hurry for the bus to pull over and pick them up. It tried to catch their eyes, to see if someone might have some use for the truth, or maybe was just a tiny bit interested in the truth.

But no one had seen the truth, it was invisible and alone, on a bus heading uptown. The bus turned right down a side street and pulled into the main bus station.

"Last stop" the driver said, stretching his legs and lighting a cigarette. He looked out the window while the truth made its way to the front of the bus and climbed down into the exhaust filled station. The truth was caught in the rush of people pushing into the station waiting room. Just inside the door a man stood, talking earnestly about the word.

The people entering the station walked right by the man talking about the word, avoiding him as easily as they avoided each other and the truth on the bus. The truth stopped and watched the man, he waited and waited, thinking that the man would notice him standing there and start up a conversation. But the man who talked about the word never stopped talking or paid any attention to the truth. The truth wandered off dejectedly.

The truth walked slowly through the bus station, thinking about the fleabag hotels he had seen out of the bus window. But the truth only had $1.35 left, it had been a long time since anyone had been willing to pay for the truth.

On benches and in corners, on pieces of cardboard covered with old coats, people who had ridden the bus all day without ever finding a place to get off were sleeping. The truth felt oddly and desperately at home.

A young man with an old face and a half empty wine bottle sat leaning against the wall. He looked right at the truth, he saw the truth. He began to shout and gesture, pointing with one hand while still gripping the bottle tightly in the other.

"It's the truth, the TRUTH, it's the truth!" he yelled.

The people in the bus station ignored him even harder, looking straight ahead, hunching their shoulders and stomping their feet as they went past.

The man stopped shouting and sank down further against the wall, putting his head on his knees, still muttering "It's the truth, man, I swear it, it's the truth."

The truth looked at the man, and then walked towards the bus platform. I still have one more bus fare, maybe I'll try an east-west bus this time, the truth thought to itself.