“Concussion!” the man in the pleated plaid pants and the flowing white shirt yelled into his phone. “He doesn’t know the meaning of the word. I know concussions. He’ll know it when he starts fighting.”
He had jumped aboard the bus at the last moment possible, happily yipping something to the driver about the importance of timing and throwing his gym bag on the floor.
“No,” he said back to the phone as soon as that gym bag hit. “I’ll try Evanston next. Police and fire department. I’ll get one of them. And I’ve got a TV show coming up.”
He spoke in declarations, not quite bragging or puffing up that he was going to be an officer of something, more stating it.
“You don’t hear about the good stuff of that,” he said to his unnamed phone friend as the bus rumbled north. “I needed a ride for the county sheriff’s exam — in Maywood — and I put that up on Facebook. Soon, I had five people offering to give me a ride. A police officer, a sheriff’s officer, they all offered to take me out there.”
The physics were there that he was a fighter. Not too tall, but a solid heap of muscle under linen and plaid. He had a shaved head and a little goatee over a thick neck and strong jaw. He bobbed and dodged as he talked.
“In the military…”
He was a loud man in volume, but he wasn’t shouting. He was projecting and enunciating and it spread through the bus, commanding attention from those who could be torn away from fiddling with their phones.
“In my classes…”
His stories leaned to talking about himself, but it didn’t seem bragging. He spoke with that focused positivism that would be angering and laughable if you couldn’t see the results.
“When you’re fighting…”
The enviable results weren’t that he could whup all our asses on the bus — that’s no challenge. The ladies and the old man and I looked a pretty wimpy crew. The enviable results of his focused positivism were just that. He got to be focused and positive. We didn’t.
He got off the phone suddenly and started talking to the bus driver. She must have asked at some point in the conversation if he was a fighter, because soon he was reciting his UFC record, his MMA one, the number of belts he has, his years in the military, karate, Greco-Roman wrestling, judo, the dojo where he teaches and a bit of his TV record too.
The driver must have mentioned a female friend who fights.
“From the South Side?” the man asked.
The driver must have said yes.
“Can she do a 360 roundhouse kick?”
The driver must have agreed.
The driver must have said no.
“Then I don’t know her. I’ve got to get off here.”
And with a focused, positive goodbye to his new friend the driver, he jumped off the bus, turning only to tell the driver his name.
I liked this weird man with his plaid pants and wild stories. I liked his bizarre confidence that he would get his pick of jobs and TV shows. I liked this weird, wild bullshit artist and I liked the sound of his name rolling around my mouth. “Shonie.”
I looked up that name tonight as I sat down to write these lines. I looked up the name to find a bit of this man’s bullshit.
There was none, I discovered. Every word he said was true.