b.z. humdrum [ Home / Writing Samples / Short Shorts/]


This piece was written for Stanley Donwood's SlowlyDownward.com.

Writing Sample

the tourist

The bus is late for me, again. It will have to wait for another. I notice that the fare has gone up and in place of payment I am compelled to hijack the cross-town number 30. This is tremendously unfortunate; I detest those electric cables towing me like a discarded puppet stuck to a railcar. The driver makes no attempt at resistance and is thrown out like the marionette he seldom feared he’d become. The yuppies get to him first. They sew up his eyes one at a time, then they sew up his mouth. He gets an office job with a center cubicle and 2-weeks’ holiday. He earns a title and it’s all downhill from there.

All the windows of a building open and shut as one so I know it’s getting late: rush hour. There is nobody behind the door, nothing. Instead, I am forced behind the wheel driving through hilly San Francisco explaining to boarding passengers how cronyism and higher energy costs have led to a twenty-five cent fare increase. It’s the least I can do; we’re all in this together.

I drop off Ms. Blueshoes in front of Union Square. Her jaw drops as she realizes I knew her destination. Friends, Romans, countrymen; we know where you live if you wear Gucci heels.

“I’ll make burgers of your flesh,” she says.

The threat is real, her fingernails extending and her open jaw heaving the wet crusting of mouth-water.

This time the yuppies are too slow. It’s the sales associates and personal shoppers that have sunk their claws into Ms. Blueshoes. Pity, I had grown to revile her as my own. The competitive market economy is simply gorgeous. She is left slick with sweat, bright with blood, an attractive halfwit being hit on the head with a half-brick. The Christmas sales start earlier every year.

There is no way off of the cables and Chinatown is slowing us down. Passengers are getting angrier as the discussion turns to the commoditization of creativity in a constantly rewritten yesteryear. Time is money is power. The past never happened except in books. I agree to have my body used for art after my death if only to shut them up.

I take the bus off the pavement. The hydraulic hiss releases the door and for a moment I suppose we’ve arrived in tuat, underground realm of the dead. But instead we all walk out onto the wharf to gaze at sea lions and consume overpriced pretzels. I can’t believe the guidebook recommends this place.

But let’s face it, we are all tourists.

© 2006 by b.z.