#277: Drag Race

February 3rd, 2014

The first bus blared its horns at the second.

It wasn’t just the coy beep beep that signals one bus passing the other. It was angrier, lower, louder somehow. A lean-in blaaat honked three times rather than the “passing you” two.

The second bus stayed at the darkened street corner as a lady with a walking cane made her way off. The blaring, blaaating first bus sped by.

The game had started 40 minutes before, so there was no reason for the streets to be this crowded. A darkened Sunday lined with neon and headlights, signs for bars and fast food restaurants, lines of homes along this North Side stretch.

The first bus thundered angrily up the road.

The second bus dawdled north. It made its way at roughly the same speed, just seemingly slower because it didn’t seem so damn angry as the first. No pulling into the middle lane to pass, no blaaat blaaat blaaat when two beeps were proper. It just chug chugged north, letting people on and off.

The buses met again a half mile north. After roaring past the second, the first had slowed, then sped, then slowed. It was sputtering up the street and the second had caught up.

The second tried to pass the first, continuing the game of leapfrog bunched buses play. But the first wouldn’t let it. The first kept its space in the passing lane, forcing the second to keep its place as the light up ahead turned red.

The buses were side by side. The second bus moved up. The first bus moved up to match. The second bus moved ahead. The first bus was stuck in by one of the cars along the road. When the light turned green again, the second bus lurched forward and the first bus sounded that angry horn an unforgivable five times.

Blaaat blaaat blaaat blaaat blaaaaaat.

The second bus jerked ahead as if offended by the impropriety.

The first bus jerked alongside it, blocking its exit route out of the bus lane, boxing it in. It pulled along side its prey.

And opened the doors.

A passenger with a beard and an exhausted or drunken look on his face stumbled to the back door of the first bus, deciding to take his chances walking out right into the middle of the road and the side of the second bus.

The second bus driver turned and glared at his or her pursuer. Rage, fury, a total eight angry blaaats when four beeps would do.

“Your lights in the back are out!” the first bus driver yelled courteously to his coworker.

And drove on into the night.

Comment on this story

What's this?

You are currently reading #277: Drag Race by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.