Sunday, December 10, 2006

Flatulence in the First Degree

I was on another of my long-distance bus trips, this time from Wisconsin to Virginia. It was late afternoon, and we were driving south, out of Milwaukee. The bus was full. Behind me were two teenage kids, little tough guys from the city heading to who knows where. As we settled into the journey and the sky slowly darkened, they grew bored, and the one directly behind me chose to entertain himself by aggressively, loudly, and repeatedly farting. Each time, this sent them both into paroxysms of laughter, causing them to flail wildly about and violently kick the back of my seat. My occasional not-as-stern-as-I-wanted-them-to-be glares went unheeded, and I resigned myself to my fate,* consoling myself with a silent stream of indignant curses.

This went on for some time, the teens foul shenanigans and my muttered stewing. Then, very suddenly, everything changed. Lights flashed behind us in the darkness and a siren wailed. The bus slowed and edged onto the shoulder of the highway. Were we speeding? The door opened. Police climbed on board and quietly conferred with the driver. Word spread to the back. No, they were looking for someone. My immediate reaction was, "I hope they arrest that kid."**

They arrested him.

The bus was escorted to the next exit where we stopped again in the middle of a large empty parking lot. The police boarded and asked all the women to exit the bus and the men to get out their IDs. They worked their way down the aisle, checking cards one by one. They came to me, looked at my driver's license, and told me I could get off.

Out in the parking lot, passengers clustered around excitedly gossiping. Somebody stabbed someone, and somebody else saw that somebody get on our bus in Milwaukee, and that's who they're looking for. Where they came by these scraps of information I don't know, but they were repeated and elaborated with great certainty and enthusiasm.

One by one, more men came off until only a gaggle of ragtag riffraff remained, those with insuffficient investment in society to bother with the niceties of document-carrying. (This group forms no small portion of the Greyhound customer-base.) We saw the police working through them, asking questions. They too, in turn, slowly straggled off the bus. Then, at last, came my gassy friend, handcuffed and escorted by two policemen, his little associate following close behind.

They were seated in the back of a squad car, lights flashed, and they sped away. The rumor mill churned into action again. He's not the the stabber. He's somebody else. Drug charges. There was a warrant out for him.

We straggled back onboard and found our places. The seats filled again, all except the two behind me. The bus turned back on to the highway and drove south. The road raced beneath us. In time, a hush settled over the passengers and, in that still darkness, my eyes grew heavy. At last, I slept—the deep, fartless slumber of the innocent.

* Greyhound busses are full of crazy people. One must choose one's battles carefully.

** This is the point, when telling the story, that my capital-defense-lawyer friend chastises me, and fair enough. I'm a left-leaning kind of guy. I'm not, in general, a huge fan of throwing kids into a dysfunctional juvenile detention system; there are probably, in most cases, better solutions to societies woes. But repeated farting and kicking will drive a man to abandon his principals and think desperate thoughts.

Ask and ye shall receive.


  1. Anonymous9:28 PM

    "the deep, fartless slumber of the innocent"...

    Very rare indeed on a bus.

  2. Great! More stories!!

  3. Awesome. That's my favorite kind of slumber.

  4. Anonymous12:04 AM

    too right about Greyhound crazies, not to mention the bathing-phobic who come with their own particular funk... ah such memories!