I enter Uptown Transit Station and discover what appears to be a homeless couple having sex on–and wrapped up in–a pile of old coats and rags on the floor of the transit center. Nearby is a large backpack, a pair of bags from a local fast food place, and a pair of heavy boots. Another backpack is under the woman’s head, like a pillow.
They look to be in their late twenties or early thirties and what little I can see of them looks like they could both use a shower. They both have ragged, uncombed greasy hair on their heads. The beard on his thin face is long and scraggly. Her face is round and pale. While they are completely covered by the coats and rags and bits of old blankets, he is obviously between her legs, thrusting and grunting softly. She is silent, her knees raised, eyes closed. There is a smile on her lightly flushed face.
Startled, I look away. They are, after all, having a private moment, even if it is in a public place. I join the rest of the transit users waiting for their buses and going about their business as if a homeless couple isn’t copulating a few feet away. People are talking on their phones, talking to each other, talking about the buses and where they are heading and who they are seeing and what they are having for dinner tonight. A dozen mundane conversations continue on with the low murmur of love-making as a musical undercurrent in the background. I wonder if I should call the St. Stephen’s Street Team to come and talk to them. It’s cold and they obviously have nowhere to go or they wouldn’t be having sex in the transit center. They are probably both homeless and mentally ill.
Meanwhile, outside the station a large, powerfully built older gentleman using one of those 4-wheeled rolling stability walkers–a rollator I think it is called–is talking to the people getting on and off the busses. He has a big, booming voice and for the last several minutes he has been asking people if they believe they are square with the world, because the angels see all and want to take the good people to dinner. To Outback and Appleby’s and Perkins and Denny’s. For a burger. Or a steak. Or hash browns. Apparently the angels like American Cuisine. Either satisfied that everyone outside would soon be having a Grand Slam with the angels, or else needing to get in from the bitter cold, he enters the transit station.
Rollator Dude: “Um-hum I see you. I see you all. See through your soft flesh and brittle bones to the burning flames under your skin. I see you.”
Random Transit Rider: “I see you too, brother.”
Rollator Dude: “I’m sure you do. Mmm-hmm. Right through all of you.” (Pauses as he notices the couple having sex) “What is This! What is This! Fornicating in public!”
At this point I reach for my phone, figuring I might need to call the police.
Woman Having Sex: “Hey, Stan.”
I look over. They are still having sex, the man thrusting harder and grunting softly. She is smiling up at Stan, who has ambled toward them with his rolling walker. I look away again, but keep an ear on things.
Stan (Rollator Dude): “Hey, O-Live-E-a. I see you Johnny-John, I see you and hey, Johnny-John, you keep tapping that sweet thing, man. You make your lady happy and maybe later I can tap that as well, umm-hmm. What do think O-Live-E-a? If Johnny-John don’t have no mind.”
Olivia (Woman Having Sex): “I don’t know Stan. Can we come stay with you for a few days?”
Stan: “You know I can’t let no one live with me. I can’t lose my place O-Live-E-a.”
Olivia: (Makes a small little pleased noise) “Just until we find something, Stan.”
Stan suddenly goes off on a long rant about how he is a bank robber who robs banks and gets away with it because he is the best bank robber at robbing banks.
Olivia: “Stan? Stan! Can we come stay with you?”
Stan: “You guys could come over and use my shower. That should be worth something.”
Olivia: “I’m not fucking you for just a shower.” (Pause. Little gasp) “But maybe we can work something else out.”
New Voice: “I keep telling them they can live with me. I’ve got a nice place. Clean. No one cares if people stay with me as long as they’re quiet and don’t smoke crack.”
Olivia: “Yeah, but I know what you want.”
Johnny-John (Guy Having Sex): (Grunt) “I don’t mind.” (Grunt) “Tim’s nice to me.” (Grunt) “I don’t mind at all.” (Grunt-grunt) “Tim makes it not hurt.” (Grunt) “He’s always nice and gentle.”
Olivia: “I just want a shower. I just want a shower.” (Pause. Gasp.) “You’re a good guy Tim. I just—” (Gasp)
Tim walks toward them. I glance over. They are still having sex. Olivia’s right leg has come out from under the coats and towels. She still has on her shoes and socks. Her skin is very pale and her calf is very thin. I look away as Johnny continues to thrust into her. Around us people come and go, keep talking about normal stuff and playing on their phones. Newcomers to the station walk in, pause as they see the couple, then go on about their business. Stan starts talking about how he works for the CIA/FBI/Police and is in disguise. Tim says he is in disguise too. Stan says he can right through Tim, right to his soul, right into his brain. Right through Tim’s life all the way to the womb, all the way back.
Olivia: “Stan? Can we use your shower?” (She is starting to sound a little breathless)
Stan: “Oh. yeah. Come on over. I’ve got a crockpot full of pulled pork and a case of Hamms. We can eat and fuck and shower and have a laugh.”
Tim: “Yeah. Yeah.” (Starts to hum. Stops humming) “Guys! Guys! Cops! No, wait, it’s a taxi. You guys can live with me. We can all live together. I’ve got a clean place.”
Olivia: “Stan. Stan, when does your bus get here? What bus, Stan?”
Stan: “The 23. Whenever it comes.” (Short digression about rare steak and raccoons and how the raccoons will come and steal a man’s steak right off the grill) “Whenever, O-Live-E-a.”
Olivia: “What time does the 23 come?” (No one answers) “When is the fucking 23 going to be here?”
Me: (Looks at the board) “You’ve got 16 minutes.”
Olivia: “Damn it, Johnny, finish up. We’ve got to go. A shower, Johnny. And hot food.”
Johnny: (Grunt) “We’ve got a few more minutes.” (Grunt) “We’ve got time.”
Olivia: “A shower, Johnny! I want a fucking shower.”
Stan: “Here. Here. Let me cover you up. Let me cover you. It ain’t decent, you showing all that leg to these people. All these strangers with their lights. All these strangers watching and wanting and wishing and licking their lips.”
I glance over as Stan kneels down and covers Olivia’s bare leg with a coat. Johnny continues to thrust. Stan stands back up
Stan: “Fornicating! In Public!”
Olivia: “I’m getting that shower.”
The Number 12 bus arrives and I start for the door.
Me: “The 23 will be here in 13 minutes.”
Olivia: (Gasps in ecstasy. Groans. Hums. Sneezes.) “Fuck, Johnny. Come and get off me. I need to put on my pants. A shower, Johnny. A shower and a hot meal. I’m not missing that fucking bus because of you.”
I walk out of the station and board the #12. I stop at Trader Joe’s and buy goat cheese and catch another bus home.