The chicken bus cranked its way up the mountain, forcing its passengers into the strangest combinations of space-sharing. They sat snug four per seat in 16 x 2 rows. an elbow squeezed into an armpit. A kneecap fit against the back of another knee. Body part puzzle pieces. The bus welcomed each new passenger and coated each departing with black exhaust. Aboard came a short, middle-aged man with a glutton’s gut and the shoulders of a man who pushed boulders. With him came an waft of verging human waste, and as he stepped forward scanning with sleepy eyes for a seat that wasn’t there, it became evident that the man could not stand alone, at least not in the traditional sense. He not exactly fell, but leaned. He leaned slowly and at an increasingly impossible angle upon a young woman seated in the third row until his face was resting, just a moment, content upon her shoulder. She shook him off, and he rebounded off a few more passengers before bumping his head on a metal rail and colliding onto the lap of an elderly gentlemen in the fifth row. It had been a small feat of athletic heroics that he had even made it on the bus. All eyes were on this man, some entertained, others bemused or disgusted. He emanated an otherwordly sense of belonging, grinning and humming a self-soothing tune, as he leaned into the next poor sap. All aisle sitters weighed their odds of being the next victim of the hapless collider.
I sat squished against a window, a family of four and one chicken in the ninth row. The daughter, who sat next to me, wore colourful Mayan garb and produced a giant watermelon slice from a plastic bag. She attacked the fruit for her first bites and shot juice that hit the inside wall of my left nostril. She tore through the fruit avoiding the seeds; poising them between her silver-plated teeth, she fired in all directions. It was as if it were the first and last fruit she would ever eat. An animal hunger. I bent my head down before me and saw that a seed had landed on the tip of my dusty shoe. When I looked up again, one of the children re-positioned himself revealing a clear plastic bag between his legs containing a hairless chicken, its head poking out and turning with military precision in the direction of the hapless collider getting closer.