Luke stands at the bus stop alone, waiting for the bus. It’s a full moon. Spring time. Warm outside. There aren’t a lot of people out. Luke is coming from his job. He has to take two buses to get home. He’s waiting on the second one.
He doesn’t think much of his job, he sells furniture. He’s been working there for nearly five years now. His main goal in life is to be a movie star. When he’s asked, he makes sure he’s there for each audition. It can be a little difficult, especially when he’s called in at the last minute and he needs coverage on the job. He’s full time too.
Last year he graduated from acting school in New York. He’s tired of New Jersey. That’s where he resides. He believes there’s nothing for him here, New York is the place to be. He plans on moving there next year. He hasn’t told anyone yet. He’d be leaving behind his parents, his older brother and younger sister. Dreams will do that they’ll take you away from your comfort zone if you’re serious about it. Luke was serious about it.
Luke looks at the middle-age dark brown skin man. He stands by Luke. The guy looks at him.
“You seen the thirty-two bus pass by?”
“No.” Luke answered.
“I don’t want to wait long for this bus, it’s too hot,” the middle age complained. He then pulls out a cigarette.
“You got a light?”
He holds the cigarette between his fingers. He steps off the sidewalk to look up the street to see if there’s a bus coming. No bus. He steps back onto the sidewalk and looks at Luke.
“Jersey transit sucks.”
Luke looks down at his feet. ‘I just want to get home, don’t talk to me,’ he thought to himself.
“Heard about the shooting on Lennox Avenue?”
Luke shakes his head.
“Yeah, a shootout, a young boy got killed. Idiots man, they think they invincible. Any of them come to me I’ll blow their heads off. You know what I’m saying?”
He lowers his voice, “Look, you want to buy a piece?”
“A piece, bro. You don’t believe me, touch it, put your hand here. Go ahead.”
He taps his waist.
“Nah, I believe you.”
Luke sees the man’s shirt poking out a bit around his waist.
“These young cats don’t know man. I’ll shoot’em dead.”
Luke reaches in his pocket, takes out his cellphone.
“Hey, what you doing?” Panic in his voice.
“I’m just checking the time.”
“Okay, I thought you were about to rat me out, bro.”
“This my piece. I paid for it.”
“Yeah, crazy bastards out here, man. You have to protect yourself. You know what I’m saying? Put your phone away, making me nervous.”
“Just checking the time.”
“How long it takes for you to do that? Listen, you sure you don’t want to buy one?”
Luke shakes his head, “No, I’m good.”
“Look, look, I’ll sell you this one.”
“You said it’s yours.”
“I can buy another one. You want one?”
“No, I’m good.”
“Alright, I’m looking out for you, bro.”
He turns away from Luke.
“Where is this bus?” Luke thought to himself.
Luke looks down the street, he sees a bus. He hopes it’s the one he’s been waiting for. It’s too far away to tell. He waits for it to get closer.
The middle age man walks up to Luke again. This time Luke sees something in his hand.
“You want one of these, it’s my last one.”
Luke looks closer, hard to see in the dim lit street.
“What is it?”
He opens up the item, it’s a shirt. Printed on the front- ‘New Jersey Garden State’
“I’m not a fan.” Luke thought to himself.
“It’s my last one, you want it?”
“Whatever you got.”
He’s not going to leave unless I purchase it.
Luke digs into his front pocket, pulls out some cash. He doesn’t want the guy to see what he has. Luke has fifteen dollars. The guy moves up closer to Luke.
“He better not try to rob me.”
Luke hands him the $5 dollar bill.
“Let me get the ten dollars.”
Luke hesitates, then he hands him the ten dollars. The middle age man takes it and gives him the shirt.
“It’s your size, fit you well.”
He puts the ten dollars in his pocket. Luke looks at the shirt and when he looks up the man is already walking away from him, talking to himself.
“The bus ain’t coming, not standing out here, waiting all night.”
Luke watches him walk away.
The bus finally pulls up and Luke steps onto it. The doors close, the traffic light turns yellow.
“Wait! Hold that bus!” A young woman yells.
The bus driver tries to beat the light but sees the young woman running to the bus. The traffic light turns red. Luke sits at the front of the bus after showing his bus card.
The young woman knocks on the door. The bus driver opens the doors. The young woman steps on, breathing heavy. The door closes behind her.
“Thank you,” she says to the bus driver while putting the coins in the machine. She sits in the front, across from Luke. She takes deep breathes, wipes the sweat from her forehead. Luke doesn’t look at her at first. He has his head turned, looking out the front windshield at the dim lit vacant street ahead.
The young woman looks at Luke. She’s brown skin, average size, curvy, short brown hair, full lips, brown eyes, dressed in a fitted dark green dress, sandals, purse in her hand.
Luke looks forward at her.
“It’s so hot tonight, I thought it would cool down.”
Luke smiles at her.
“Dang, you cute.” She smiles back at Luke. “You know it too, you blushing. What’s your name?”
“You live around here?”
“I do. I moved around here a month ago, had to get away from my babies’ father. We broke up. I had my baby when I was nineteen. I’m twenty-three. How old are you?”
“You got a girlfriend?”
“Why not? Love me some light skin brothers.”
“What’s so funny? I’m serious. Even though me and my man use to always fight, he would beat me, I still think there some good men out there. So happy I left him. I hate him. I took my baby, moved out here and got me a job. You work?”
“What you do?”
“I sell furniture.”
“That’s what’s up. Cute and you make money, dang.”
She looks to see what street they’re coming up on.
“Next stop, bus driver.”
She stands, her dress tight around her curvy hips.
“Take my number down.”
“We’ll see each other again,” Luke says.
The bus stops, doors open.
“No, take my number down.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll meet again.”
“Alright, good night baby,” she says stepping off the bus.
Doors close, bus pulls off.
Luke shakes his head, smiling.
Luke walks into his house, locks the door behind him. He sees his mother sitting on the couch watching television.
“Hey. You had to wait long for the bus?
“No, it was on time.”
“If you hungry, there’s food in the fridge.”
He goes upstairs into his bedroom, tosses the shirt he bought in the bottom drawer. He grabs a clean pair of underwear and takes a cool shower. When he’s done in the bathroom, on his way downstairs he runs into his younger sister, Jaylene. She looks sleepy.
“How was work?” she asked.
“Fine. Back in tomorrow morning. You look so tired.”
“I am. I’ll be in my room.”
“Okay. Where’s Marc and Brad?”
“They’re both asleep, they tried to stay up but…”
“It’s alright. Is dad home?”
“Yeah, he asleep too.”
“I figured. Get some rest. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
She goes into her room, closes the door.
He goes downstairs, walks by the living room. The television is off and his mother already went to bed. He goes into the kitchen, turns the light on. He’s hungry but sleepy. He has to get up early in the morning. He just drank a glass of orange juice, hearing the cars passing by outside. Afterwards, he put the empty glass in the sink and cut the light out.
After setting his alarm clock in his bedroom, he lays on his bed, staring up into the darkness. He thinks to himself- ‘Most of my life I wait. I wait to be told when to go in for an audition. I wait to hear back if I have the part or not. I wait for my check every two weeks. I wait to leave New Jersey. That’s why I love to sleep because the annoying experience of waiting is no longer felt. When I dream time has no limits.”
Luke goes to sleep.