Open 2022 Vasant Stories - Russ Bickerstaff


Something to Say
By Russ Bickerstaff


I know I’m waiting for him but I don’t know why. I’m not waiting for him. I’m waiting for me. But I know he isn’t here yet so in a sense I guess I’m waiting for him to. Of course, he never comes here. Or I think he might have that one time. I don’t know. In any case, the bus is approaching. And I will be getting on the bus. And I know that everything is going to be fine. But there’s some sense of dread beyond at all that I just can’t place. And so I’m looking forward to seeing him.

It’s weird getting on the bus and seeing everybody I don’t know. I mean, it’s not everybody I don’t know. There are a lot of people in the world I don’t know I don’t even know that I don’t know. But there’s a lot of people on the bus that I don’t know. And I always see them. There’s a guy with the glasses. And the guy with the hood. There’s a woman with the shopping cart. They were all there as well. I don’t know any of them. But I know that I don’t know any of them. Because I see them just about every day.

I don’t know what the dynamic is. Everybody’s got a schedule. And those schedules happened to match up. On the road you’re not going to notice it behind the wheel. But when you’re in a boss, you do. You notice that there are people who have similar schedules to you. And for a brief moment in time you’re all sharing the same space going in the same direction. It’s kind of poetic in its own way. But I haven’t quite worked out exactly what the poetry is. I haven’t really had the time to. I’ve been thinking about him.

His bus stop is approaching. And so is he. By virtue of that. And yet he’s standing still. But we’re not. We’re moving forward. But I’m not moving anywhere. The seat that I’m sitting on is moving forward. The rest of it is perfectly stationary. The world outside anyway. That’s the way it feels. That’s the way I think of it. Met probably the way it is. Though I really don’t know. The bus is stopped. And the doors are open. And I’m looking for him to get on the bus. But then I look over and I see him there.

Everything seems to be tumbling sideways in my head. Like maybe he got on at a different stop than he normally did. Or maybe we hit that stop and I just didn’t know. I’m scanning around outside trying to figure out what it was that I might’ve missed. But it’s too late. Because everything‘s fine. Because we’re in the right place at the right time moving in the right direction and I am going to be heading to work soon. And so is he. And I look over to him.

And he looks over to me as well. And I think I just said something. But I think I just said something in response is something he just said. We just weird. Because I don’t know that we’ve ever really said much to each other. Not verbally. Not with actual words or anything like that. So that feels a little strange. But I’m not sure exactly why. And I’m sure I’ll figure it out the further we get into whatever kind of conversation it is that we’re having. Though I don’t know that we’re actually having a conversation. Something could be off about it.


Something is. Something’s definitely wrong. I can see it in his face. But I’m not sure what it is. Because he is largely one of those other people I don’t know. However, I know him a little bit more for someone I don’t know. For instance, I know that he works with me. And I know we’re going to be going to the same office. That sort of thing. But I don’t really know him. I think I might know his name. But it’s not really important. Do something in his face. Something that seems distinctly wrong. Not that his face seems wrong.

But there’s some kind of an emotion behind it that doesn’t quite match what’s going on. I’m not sure how to take that. I’m not sure what to do about that. And I’m sure I’ll figure it out. But it’s really not that big a deal. I mean, he’s here. I’m here. And I seem to remember something about that. Like maybe I wanted to say something to him. And then, maybe I did say something to him. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what it is that I am not thinking right now. But certainly it doesn’t really matter because it’s not a matter of basic survival.

We’re off the bus and we’re walking towards the office now. Separate but in the same direction. Kind of like on the bus. Only now we’re actually moving under our own power. Actually walking forward. Walking toward the building. Walking toward Static Tower, where we both work. I guess I feel good about that. I mean, if there was something that I really needed to say to him, I would have said it by now, right? That’s what I’m thinking. I don’t know that that’s what I’m saying. Because it would be kind of weird.

Tell some stranger that you really wanted to say something to them. But you didn’t know what it was. But it would probably not be important if you couldn’t remember it at the moment. Something like that. I feel like that’s probably what I’m saying to him right now. I don’t know that he’s paying attention. He seems lost in his own thoughts.

Like maybe he’s just lost. Like he’s confused or something. I hope it wasn’t something that I said. I have to remember to ask him about that later. Make sure that everything is OK and that I didn’t upset him. I don’t want to upset him. I do want to say something to him, though. I guess I have to say that. That I didn’t mean it. But maybe there’s something else. I don’t know.

Off to work.


Russ Bickerstaff is a critic and author living in Milwaukee, WI.


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