I worked at Nordstrom in downtown Seattle and even in 1979, traffic there was a ridiculous bitch so I took the bus to work each day. This was so simple and fast it always seemed odd folks would bother to drive. I don’t know about transit in Seattle today.
I haven’t been there in 35 years.
Every day a guy I assume was schizophrenic was there too. Every day he would step off the curb as each bus approached shouting as loud as he could screaming his mash of gibberish as if he were warning them away to protect pedestrians from terrible harm.. Like they were orcas after the pedestrians.
Of course the heedless masses had no clue and they circled wide to avoid him. He would mutter under his breath “What are you SCARED OF!!!!???” in a growly voice as they pretended he wasn’t there.
One fine sunny day I sat on a park bench a few feet from the bus stop to people watch while waiting and “the guy” was especially agitated for some reason. His feints toward the buses were crossing the line and I kept expecting the Seattle PD, but there were no cellphones in ’79. I was worried he would be hit, but I remained a spectator.
An old lady approached the corner and was the first one to stop, waiting for the cross-light. She fidgeted nervously and crouched to be as small as possible in the face of this terrible screaming bus-guy. Terrified, she cowered pretending to be invisible. More people walked up and stopped, all of them watching him nervously, looking away to avoid eye contact as he raged against the machines.
“HEYYYY!!! GET YOU GONE vile beast that has no name because names are so important to them” seems as close to what he was shouting as I can recall (loosely)…he strode along the curbside yelling like the maniac he was and stood with his back to the old lady as the bus barely missed him.
Turning around to face her, he said “Whatsa matter LADY!!? You SCARED of me???” The light turned and she scurried across as fast as she could without bolting.
Bus guy turned toward me and his eyes went from burning-fire-evangelist intense to “normal”, the muscles in his face released and he was lucid. I could see it all over him, seconds after he had frightened the old lady. As if he had shocked himself into awareness.
He looked right at me and said “Yeah. SCARED. I’m scared of that lady. You. I’m scared of you too.”
Then he turned and began shouting at the buses again.
I think of him sometimes and I wonder where he is right now. My heart aches a bit because…well, because someone loves him and wonders the same thing and I know it deep, deep inside. I can feel the heat all these years later of that stone-cold fact. Someone loved him and was helpless and probably broken for not being able to help their own child.
I get it now.