On the Street: The Fry Guy

As I read on the bus about how China and India were going to take over the world by 2020, I noticed a distinct aroma coming from behind me. I thought it was a burger, or maybe a cheesesteak. At the next stop, the man who was sitting behind me moved up and joined me in the empty seat. He had a brown paper sack with him, and I saw him reach in, grab a handful of fries and stuff them in his mouth.

Eating or drinking on the bus is strictly prohibited. Occasionally, though, you'll have a Hungry, Hungry Hippo who'll look past the rules and chow down. This man, probably in his mid-40s, on his way to work or home from work, with a beard that attempted to fill in a few empty , rugged spots on his chin, was reasonably thin. Another thing remarkable was the fact that he held a napkin in his right hand, with the bag, and used his left just like the crane game at your local department store. He'd stuff his hand into the bag, wrestle it around a bit and pull out a prize: more French fries.

After every other helping, he'd set the bag down on the floor and wipe off his left hand with the napkin in his right. Once, when the road was a bit bumpy, he nearly grabbed the headrest on the seat in front of him. But, realizing his hand was still greasy, he did not. Instead, when the bus came to a stop, he wiped his hands clean again.

It was nearing my stop. The man recognized that I had hit the yellow button strip to announce my intentions of exiting. He quickly grabbed his goodies and moved out of my way.

I said, "How are the fries?"
He said, "Not bad ... I wish I had ketchup, but that would be messy."

"On the Street" is a collection of fiction shorts.