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On the bus

"Now you may ask, what if my characters won't talk to me? What if they won't even visit? The only answer is to think and think some more, and then go out and read and look and listen some more. Do not sit and mope. Do not sigh. Do not throw up your hands and give up on the whole project. Do not go back to the drawing board. There is nothing more depressing than an empty drawing board. No, go back to the world, which is where all characters originally come from."

I crossed paths with a pair of  Natural Born Killers tonight. Their voices grabbed my attention as I strode through the sunlit plaza connecting my office building with the transit center.

The man -- we'll call him Mickey -- dressed in blue Adidas track pants, a wife beater and a flat-bill DC baseball cap -- was scratching violently at his face and arms.  His girlfriend, Mallory -- in a matching wife beater -- screamed at Mickey from across the bus bay, "Stop f***ing picking at yourself, you f *** ing idiot."

Their appearance encouraged me to check the status of my purse several times before we boarded the bus. While we stood their amid a crowd of pinstriped professionals -- Mallory began shouting out the route number -- "It's the f***ing 535." She said it over and over again -- a little louder each time -- for no apparent reason.

I found myself tempted to engage them on the journey home. Mallory was playing club tracks on her cell phone, demanding Mickey "give it" to her "RIGHT NOW."

"Oh my f***ing God," she trilled. "I can't believe I allowed myself to do that -- I mean look at me I'm totally naked."

I looked around in hopes that another passenger would react to this spiraling freak show, but nobody seemed to notice. They weren't even roused by the racket of Mallory's palms smacking hard against Mickey's head. I was just getting ready to say something, when Mallory's phone rang -- it was her mother.

"They were doing my drug test, bitch," she shouted.

I assumed from our first encounter at the bus stop that Mickey and Mallory were a couple of tweekers. Now I wondered if they were armed, murderous, sociopaths. I looked around one last time and took my cue from the rest of the passengers. I spent the rest the bus ride home with my nose in my book.


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