Following Curiosity

An Amanda Hone acrylic on Stretched Canvas 20″ x 20″ (50 x 50 cm)
A lanky, liver-spotted man hopped the bus at W 14th and 10th. He fixed his wild eyes on a seat and lurched toward it as the bus bucked traffic. A nervous little man with a red bow-tie moved a newspaper out of the way and Lanky sat down, nodded. Bow-tie’s mouth twitched.
Lanky slid his carrying case off his shoulder, pulled out a small pad and pen, and set the case at his feet. He sat back, raked a hand through his long, salt-and-pepper hair, and flipped the pad open.
Out of the corner of his eye, Bow-tie watched Lanky scribble madly, filling pages, flipping them over. He strained to see what exact words were streaming out of this free-feeling man, and he quivered with the frustration of being unable to make them out.
At W 66th and Amsterdam, Lanky stopped writing and started going over his notes from the beginning. With rapid flourishes, he crossed sections out and jotted down revisions, some on existing pages, some on fresh pages, and some of those he crossed out and tore out of the pad completely, crumpled and tossed them aside.
Bow-tie flinched each time a ball of paper hit the floor. His bald brow was moistening with anxiety, but he kept his hands clenched in his lap and his lips pursed.
Lanky finished his odd notating and purging procedure barely prior to his stop at W 86th and Amsterdam. He jammed the pad and pen into his case just as the bus came to a stop. He nodded at Bow-tie and rose to leave. Bow-tie wimpered.
Bow-tie forced himself to sit tight. He arched his neck to see toward the front of the bus. Just as Lanky reached the door, he looked back at Bow-tie and waved. “Enjoy” he hollered, and he was gone.
In a heated blush, Bow-tie scrambled to the floor and snatched up every crumpled ball of paper he could see while the bus lurched and whined and hissed. He held the balls in his moistened hands, hoisted himself back into his seat, and feverishly began to unrumple them.
Bow-tie’s face went from rosy to flaming red during the process of discovering the note papers were all blank but one, and it read, “If you want to know what I’ve been writing, come to 590 Columbus at 7pm.”
An incendiary mixture of rage and confusion and resentment and curiosity fire-bombed a lifetime of emotional suppression, and yet Bow-tie emerged from the assault with knees pressed together, eyes staring straight ahead, and a decision.
Instead of continuing on toward home, Bow-tie got off at the next stop and walked with precision back 5 blocks to 590 Columbus and was surprised to find himself standing outside the Riverside Community Center. He sniffed and went inside.
Just past the reception area he saw a signboard outside an open doorway glowing with light. People inside the room were quietly choosing seats. Bow-tie went nearer. The large print on the sign read, “The ’Upgrade Your Sex Life!’ Course, With Dr. Morrow, October 17-19.” Below it was a photo of Lanky, and underneath that was an impressive list of his credentials in the field of psychology.
Bow-tie’s face flushed yet again and in a subdued state of disappointment he turned to go, but in the turning he caught a familiar face. He turned back toward the glowing doorway and met the familiar eyes of his wife staring back at him. She turned beet red and looked away.
Bow-tie turned heel, heeded his usual flight response but was caught right before the reception desk. A familiar touch, a familiar voice, “Join me, Darling?” Bow-tie froze. Another fire-bomb to his now tenuous emotional constitution: indignation and shame and fright and curiosity…
Click here for more on prompt #342 – Upgrade from other Sunday Scribblings participants.


10 Responses to “Following Curiosity”

  1. October 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    What an intriguing little tale, so well told and with humor and pathos and hope. The driver of the bus knew where to go but for the reader it was a complete mystery until that final hope for a better life at home at 590 Columbus.

  2. October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Extremely fun story. Subtle at times, yet touching upon emotions, disenchanted yet hopeful, and keeps the readers guessing. Great job!

  3. October 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Brilliantly paranoid from the start. This reads like a modern Kafkaesque conspiracy plot.

  4. October 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    This really made me laugh! It was very well written and the ending was a nice surprise.

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