German Punctuality

I was the last one on what I thought was the right bus.
I asked the driver to make sure. He said something
that in English sounded like “crossing.” The only problem
was he was speaking German,
and I’d just taken up the language. I asked him again.
He scratched his forehead just above his nose.
He repeated himself angrily. I still didn’t understand.
I tried to simplify. “Sooo, Leipzig?”
“Ja, ja…” he said.
“Danke schön…”

I sat down a few seats behind him.
I kept an eye on him in the rearview mirror.
Above his head there was a digital clock with red numbers.
It was 6:03. At 6:05 the bus was scheduled to depart.
At 6:04 he grabbed the top of the steering wheel
with both hands
and peered at the door with his sharp vulture’s eye.
At 6:04 and about 30 seconds he began pummeling
the gum that was in his mouth,
his jaw working more furiously than ever.
6:05. BANG! He slammed the door shut, pumped the gas,
went tearing around the bend.

I looked out the window. There was a guy running
alongside the bus, his necktie streaming
over his left shoulder, a briefcase banging against his leg,
one arm frantically waving.
He kept a pretty good pace with us all the way
to the end of the parking lot,
but then we took a sharp left onto the main road.
Fuck him.
He was a couple seconds late.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Cathexis Northwest Press.

M. P. Powers lives with one foot in Berlin, Germany, and the other in South Florida, where he rents out construction equipment. He is the editor of 11 Mag Berlin, and has been published recently in Red Fez, Chiron Review, Slipstream, Neuro Logical and others. His blog can be found here: https://mppowers.wordpress.com.

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