Cold, hungry and tired, I stood at the bus station contemplating the road ahead. It wasn't pretty. After the motor blew in my car and left me without a ride I was ceremoniously dumped from my good natured employment. Now I was working the counter in a pizza parlor that specialized in nourishment for the elderly. Tips were notoriously bad and wages were honed in on the minimum rate. My rent was almost two months past due and the apartment manager had left me a message on my answering machine suggesting ways I could reimburse him that did not involve money. Things were not pretty in life.
"In the future, pants will be made out of meat!"
Couldn't that old guy give it a rest? He was out there every morning promoting the same inane ideology. Who cared what pants were going to be constructed of in the future when you didn't know where your next meal would be coming from.
I knew they were close to firing me from Geriatric Specialty Pizzas because I was so impatient with the hard of hearing. The number of jobs available to a man with no car in this town were very limited, so I would have to apologize to the seniors today. Yesterday I had told a deaf woman to go fuck her cat. Even though she didn't hear me, she complained to the manager about my "mean face." It was becoming so intolerable, but I was convinced that I would one day rise above this creeping malaise that was chewing away at the fabric of my existence.
"Ya want what I gots in this here bag?"
This guy was new to the morning bus stop. He had long, scraggly unwashed hair, a jeans jacket and very badly stained University of Alabama sweatpants. His gnarled fingernails and filth encrusted, oily hands were most unappealing. Yet he was holding out a small brown bag, crumpled and moist, and insisting that I take it from him. Exhausted and unwilling to get into a dialogue about my disinterest in the contents of the mystery bag, I snatched it and thanked him.
"There be nummies in there! Mmm hmm. Nummies!"
The bus pulled up and I climbed aboard, leaving mister filthypants behind. As my journey continued down the road to the pizza parlor, I placed the paper bag on my lap and stared at it. It was an ordinary lunch bag, like the kind they give kids without lunchboxes to take to school. It was moist and looked as if it had been kicked around a parking lot for several hours. Still, I opened it, albeit very slowly, and peered inside. What to my wondering eyes did appear, but a little brown biscuit and eight tiny insects. The bugs were rather harmless looking, some kind of very small black flies, and they exited the bag soon after I reached in to draw forth the biscuit. It was very hard, but also very wet, causing me to conclude that it had not been very well looked after since its birth. Disposing of the bag on the seat next to me, I raised the biscuit to my nostrils and drank in its aroma.
"You aren't going to eat that, are you son?"
Father Thomaz was in his usual seat on the bus, heading to his church downtown to work on converting the heathens of the city. Like me, he was attacked by fate and left without a car of his own. Riding the bus, he said, allowed him to get in touch with a different brand of people and introduce them to the glories of God. He was on a new crusade now. Father Thomaz did not want me to eat the biscuit.
Other bus travelers were turning their heads to see what I might be doing. Most just wore glazed over expressions and could not care less whether I ate the biscuit or not. A few looked very concerned about the thoughts I might be having as I sniffed the biscuit. I had to admit, it smelled awfully good.
"If you're hungry, son, you can always come down to the parish soup kitchen."
That was it. No priest was going to tell me how to run my life. I was downing that biscuit and he was too old and slow to stop me. Slowly, I slid the biscuit across my tongue, tasting its outer flavor. My saliva mixed well with the moist treat and caused a flavor explosion. I slid it in and out of my mouth a few times, smiling at Father Thomaz, and then bit down delicately. Once I broke through the tough outer shell, I found the inside of the biscuit to be light and flavorful. All sorts of different, wonderful flavor experiences were dancing through my mouth. This was a poor man's nirvana. I had to find mister filthypants again and learn about the origins of this delicious taste treat.
"Please, son, that biscuit can't be any good."
Oh, but it was! It was beyond delicious. No amount of praise could possibly come close to explaining how that biscuit made me feel. My energy returned and I felt better than I had in weeks. I ate more of the biscuit treat and became one with goodness. The colors of the world outside the bus window became more vibrant. The people on board the bus were more attractive and interesting. I rose to my feet, half the biscuit still in my hand, and yelled out to everyone that I loved them and their families. Then I consumed the rest of my biscuit and sat back down in my seat. I couldn't wait until I got to work. I was thrilled by the prospect of helping people find the right flavored pizza to liquify in the blender. Everything was right with the world and I was a superstar.
Unfortunately I never found mister filthypants again. I suppose he was a gift from the heavens that will never grace our unforgiving earth again. Many thanks to whomever sent him and his weird ass tasty biscuit treat. I am eternally grateful.