BY PHILLY GRRL There are those people who refuse to take SEPTA at night. I am not one of them. On any given week, out of a mixture of sheer stubbornness and necessity, I join the throngs of second-shift workers on their way home. Riding at night is different. Gone are the students and suit-and-tied office workers who pack the aisles during the day. The buses go faster. There is no lingering at stops. People are tired and their tiredness gives way to a sort of looseness that only appears at night.
That particular night, I sat at the bus station for nearly two hours. Market Street was empty. The last tourists and revelers had moved on. I was alone, except for the homeless man who sleeps on the bench there. He always wears blue pants and a blue jacket and is always there when I am. He slept on his bench while I read my Philadelphia Style magazine.
That was when the man in the white Cadillac came. It had been an hour. The bus was running late. I had read my magazine and moved on to a book. Suddenly, in a show of screeching tires, a white Cadillac pulled a (rather admirable) U-Turn in the middle of Market Street. The man who came out wore a white suit, white hat, pink tie and sunglasses. He came out running and yelling. “Lana, Lana!” he shouted. The homeless man on the bench stirred. The man in the white suit ran down the stairs behind us to the Market-Frankford Line. He emerged from the stairs only to run down again. He repeated this two mores times. All the time screaming “Lana, Lana!”
The homeless man wakes up, cursing. “Man, why you gotta be screaming while I’m sleeping?” The man in the white suit doesn’t listen. He’s on his cell phone now. The homeless man grumbles. He is angry at being awoken. He glares at me, then chooses to ignore me. I studiously stare at my book and ignore him as well. From his stash of plastic bags, the homeless man carefully pulls out a yellow Shop Rite bag. From the bag, he takes out a drumstick and begins to chew. On the street, the man in the white suit puts away his phone and speeds away. The homeless man lays back down on the bench. The bus comes. I leave.