We fortunately had an extra day in the Mid Week Blues Buster, and I needed it to get an idea going. Still, here I am squeaking by at the very last minute. This specific song was difficult for me to find a story to go with, being primarily electric guitar exercises. The lyrics helped me out, fortunately.
The song we had to play with this week was The Act We Act by Sugar.
“Pardon me, but do you happen to have the time?”
The voice shocked me out of my inner thoughts and back to the bus stop where I waited and brooded. With a thick accent meant to sound British, and failing utterly, the speaker asked again.
I looked around to see who had intruded into the solace of the thoughts. It wasn’t the young guy with the thick glasses and expanded ears, shaking his head to some electric guitar scream that escaped his expensive headphones. The only other person at the bus stop was a derelict from the streets, standing just a few feet away. Dirty grey hair held in place by a faded bowler hat, and the suit jacket was a poor combination with the sweat pants below, held in place by a twisted section of orange extension cord. Tough skin wrinkled around grey blue eyes, as he smiled when he noticed me look up.
“Man, I don’t have anything extra. Sorry.” I said out of habit, starting to fall back into my reverie.
“Good sir, that’s simply unnecessary. I merely query about the time.” Unfettered, he pressed on.
Glancing down, an oft repeated glance at my phone revealed the time. “It’s 6:17. Why, are you late for something?” As soon as the angry words came out, I felt guilty. The problems in my life weren’t his fault, nor were his problems my responsibility either. His only sin, as far as I was aware, was disrupting the silent anonymous rhythm of the bus stop. The unspeaking passersby so close in the city.
“Not yet, not yet, but I thank you for your concern. Merely rolling with the tides, as they say. As you can likely surmise, I seem to have misplaced my timepiece.”
Driven by guilt or curiosity, I took another look at him. His clothes were in tatters, but he didn’t carry himself with an air of subservience or disgrace. Rather, as he stood slightly apart, straight shoulders and head held high, he more seemed to be surveying his domain. He noticed my attention, and took a step closer to speak directly to me. “Hours could slip by while you watch, with the thoughts cluttering your mind.”
“Sorry, it’s just…you don’t…I don’t know, you just don’t make sense.” I blushed at the explanation.
“Ah, yes, not what you expect once you raise the curtain? No, my young friend, this is a temporary condition.” He waved his hand along his body, indicating his colorful ensemble. “The act we act is what is reflective of that which is under the skin. One or two poor choices may have led me to this residential misadventure, yet especially in adversity, our carriage and bearing will carry us through.”
The bus pulled up to the curb as he finished, and I rose to step toward it. I noticed myself standing up straighter, and that simple act made the worries on my mind seem smaller and less oppressive.
The homeless man didn’t make any move to cross to the bus. “Is this yours, too?” I asked.
“No, mine is still coming, but I have enjoyed seeing the worlds collide this evening.” He bowed slightly and stepped back from the curb, waving the bus driver on.
“Well, good luck to you, and good night.”
As I sat on the bus, I looked around at the people already seated. Most were engrossed in their own thoughts or devices, yet none had the spirit or seeming energy of the homeless man. Most were the same that shared the bus every other work night, and most likely would continue the routine for many months or years to come. I thought of the differences, both on the inside and the outside, and couldn’t stop thinking about the difference it made.
“The act we act”, I muttered to myself, thinking that it might be time to consider my act, and see where my fortunes could take me.