The chicken bus crankled its way upon the mountainous road, forcing its passengers into the strangest combinations of space-sharing. They sat tightly snug four per seat in 16 x 2 rows; an elbow squeezed into an armpit; a kneecap forced-fit against the back of another knee. Body part puzzle pieces. Piping dark black exhaust, the bus welcomed each new passenger and coated each departing one. Aboard came a short, middle-aged man with a glutton’s gut and the shoulder build of a boulder pusher. With him came an overpowering waft of verging human waste and as he stepped forward scanning with mainly closed 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 with an increasingly impossible angle upon a young woman seated in the third row until his face was resting, for just a moment, content upon her shoulder. She shook him off, and he rebounded through a group of three or four passengers before bumping his head on a metal rail and colliding onto the lap of an elderly gentlemen sitting in the fifth row. It had been a small feat of athletic heroics that he had even made it on the bus. All passenger eyes were on this man, some entertained, others bemused or flat-out disgusted. He emanated an otherwordly sense of belonging as he leaned into the next poor sap, perma-grinning while humming a self-soothing tune. 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 traditional interwoven multi-colour Mayan garb and produced a giant watermelon slice from a plastic bag. She attacked the fruit-meat 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 perfectly on the tip of my dusty shoe. When I looked up again, one of the children re-positioned himself revealing a clear plastic bag from 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.