(for the first part of this story refer to May 27th)

 

    “What are you talking about?”

    “You heard me. Make someone laugh and you live. This is just the way it is. I’m not threatening you with anything. In fact, this is the last you’ll ever see of me.” The woman collapsed into a murder of crows that flew out in scattered directions. Roswell stood up and walked to where she had been standing. Nothing. She had turned entirely into crows. He looked around to see if there were any other witnesses. The one street was busy with commuters zooming home from work and the other street was empty. The square frame of the building under construction was also empty. 

    If the prediction was true, Roswell was in no mood to make people laugh. He sometimes made his students laugh but they were already on buses or trains on their way home.  Were there any amateur comedy nights that he could crash later in the evening? No that would be too challenging. Expectations held up under a spotlight. Not his forte. Roswell climbed the fence of the vacant lot and resumed his route home.

    He waited for the bus on Hastings near Carroll. Not an obvious place for laughs. There were no other commuters waiting for the bus and the only pedestrians passing were in their own worlds of hunger or addiction. One woman doing a junkie-shuffle walked out into traffic while her arms did random stabs into the air as if in a dance choreographed by an epileptic. Cars honked. Roswell studied the scene carefully half-heartedly hoping to find levity in misery. The bus arrived and Roswell felt a stab of guilt as he stepped onto the 135. 

   “Nice day for a shot of heroine,” he said to the driver as he deposited his change.

     “Stand behind the yellow line, please,” the driver said as he drove off from the stop. Sunglasses and a Tilley hat hid the driver from the world. Roswell made a cursory glance of the people around him: sunglasses, headphones, magazines, vacant stares, cell phones. All various walls.

     What if the bus got into an accident and they were stuck in a ditch until midnight? What if it were one of the people on the bus that he had to make laugh? He briefly imagined an impromptu comedy night set up on the bus to pass the time while they waited to be rescued. He saw the 80-year old Chinese man next to him getting up to a makeshift mic set up at the front of the bus. “The funny thing about buses,” he could imagine him saying.  

   Roswell laughed to himself out loud and felt his soul lighten.

   As if a curse had been rescinded.

   Of course, he was someone and making himself laugh was all it took.

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