"IT'S ONLY FRIDAY BUT I'M ALREADY EXCITED FOR FOOTBALL ON SUNDAY!"
That isn't me talking. As you may have guessed. It's Mr. Weyling, described in an earlier story. The important thing to reiterate is his deafening volume, all the more heightened in tonight's otherwise completely silent midnight bus ride, and also the hoarse and raspy nature of his benevolent roar.
He says the line above a second time, at exactly the same level of intensity. This time he shrieks a post-addendum: "MINNESOTA, BABY!"
Weyling finds a seat near the middle door, practically snarling with pugilistic glee: "IT'S GOING TO BE GOOD." I'm smiling at his complete lack of self-awareness, envying the uncomplicated pleasure radiating from his face. He grins up at the fluorescent bulbs, envisioning the coming slaughter. His slaughter visions would later prove to be accurate; in a couple days' time the score would be 38 to the Vikings' 7.
"THEN NEXT WEEK IT'S SAN FRANCISCO," he positively bayed. "THEN AFTER THAT, PITTSBURGH." I love hearing ordinary sentences screamed at ear-splitting levels. It's actually kind of rare.
"You know it," I said, referring to the schedule.
"I KNOW THE WHOLE SCHEDULE." I need to point out that he doesn't speak quickly. Every word gets its proper due in the sun. Schedule is enunciated in its entirety, down to the 'y' sound between the 'd' and the 'u', as well as the 'ew' pronunciation of the 'u' itself, as in the French style. There may be three million people in the greater metro area, but only one of them talks like this. I'm enjoying it.
"EVERY LITTLE DETAIL," he adds. If we ignore the volume and the rasp, the enunciation has a childlike aspect. "THE PLAYERS AND THE TEAMS. I KNOW THE WHOLE SCHEDULE!"
"Yeah ya do!"
Mr. Weyling explains: "I'M GONNA LISTEN TO EVERY GAME IN THE COMFORT OF MY HOME."
"That sounds nice!" I half-yell in reply.
"I'M GRATEFUL TO HAVE A HOME TO WAKE UP IN! AND A ROOF OVER MY–"
"Lots to be thankful for." I'm trying to dial him down, speaking now in a quarter-yell, if you will. But my subtle efforts are of no use. He's on a roll now:
"EVERY DAY I THINK GOD I HAVE A HOME TO SLEEP IN AND FOOD TO EAT." Proper grammar. Enunciated syllables. Cain-raising cacophony. A one-night-only performance.
He really wants to get his point across. "I THANK GOD EVERY DAY I HAVE MY OWN BED. NOT LIKE THE MOORE. THEY HAVE BEDBUGS. I DON'T KNOW IF THEY STILL DO, AND I DON'T WANNA FIND OUT! EVERY MORNING BEFORE BREAKFAST I THANK THE LORD GOD." He stands up. "THIS IS HOW I THANK THE LORD," he explains, offering a visual demonstration, taking a stance in the aisle and prostrating himself, howling the appropriate phrases.
If we were on a bus with a less-notorious reputation, all this might be too uncomfortable or bizarre for the other passengers, and the pressure to maintain some decorum might feel stronger. That isn't necessary here. We're on the 7. At night. Like the old 358, there's no meaningful expectation for normalcy. The passengers see that number proudly emblazoned on the front of the bus, and they know what they're signing up for. When riders get on and notice kids laughing each other silly in the back, they don't get worked up. They just roll their eyes. There's nothing to be done about it, and they know it. Drivers on mellower routes have the luxury of being able to get frustrated by things like passengers lying on seats, eating, or talking on their phones. That's not an option here, unless I want to grey my hair faster than the president. There are bigger fish to fry.
"That's excellent, Mr. Weyling, you're a good guy. Thank you."
"I'M GONNA PUT ON TWO SPRITZ OF COLOGNE," he announces.
"Hey, that's a good idea."
"WEYLING IS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT MAN AND HE LIKES ONE HUNDRED PERCENT WOMAN." Dramatic pause. "WEYLING DOESN'T LIKE NO MEN."
Oh dear. Toeing the line, toeing the line, toeing the line….
"IF TWO GUYS WANNA HIT ON EACH OTHER, THAT'S ON THEM. I DON'T DO THAT. ADAM WAS THE ORIGINAL MAN, AND HE–"
Aaand we're calling it. God-fearing gay-bashing is not allowed on the Nathan train.
"Alright, Mr. Weyling! Inside voice, Mr. Weyling, inside voice, thank you!"
He turns to Silent Weyling mode. The show is over. "Thank you," somebody says. He doesn't speak again until he steps out. "YEAH, GO AHEAD AND LAUGH," he says to someone snickering at his shoes, which are tattered and worn. "I GOT MINE. THESE SHOES BELONG TO ME!"
At day's end he's a child like the rest of us, trying hard, trying ever so hard to protect himself from this confusing world and all the hurt it has to offer. Every emotion we see in others is a manifestation, a friend once told me, a seed of which we ourselves have also experienced. I've been excited, thankful, and made fun of, as he just was on this bus ride.
Thirty minutes later, buried somewhere out in Rainier Valley, a resident came forward before deboarding. He'd been sitting right behind Weyling. "Is he a regular? Seemed like you kinda knew him," he said.
"Yeah, he stops in every now and then. Some days he's better than others!"
"You're a fuckin' saint."
Not a patron saint, mind you, not a martyr nor confessor– just one of those lowly, humble "fuckin' saints," to use his coinage. I understand they're a bit lower on the hierarchy!