I boarded the good old 75 bus southbound. Going from home to the Hollywood Library. I sat on the front left bench. Across from me two very large women were chatting. One, in a wheelchair, was wheezing for breath despite inhaling oxygen through a nasal tube.
Her friend sat directly across from me. The two were nodding and quietly cracking each other up. Though I tried, I couldn't hear the words.
A skinny woman boarded and traded nods of recognition with the other two. She held a worn Bible in one hand and tread carefully, as if on a small boat. She sat down a couple rows back from me. At the first stop, she tread very deliberately to the front as if leaving. But instead, the woman grabbed a handful of paper towels from a dispenser next to the driver. On the way back to her seat, a towel flapped to the floor.
The wheelchair lady looked at me, looked at the paper towel, and then gestured. She wanted me to pick up the towel and give it back to the skinny lady.
I picked it up, and as the skinny woman turned around to sit, held out the paper towel for her to take.
"I don't want that paper towel that's been on the floor."
"Okay." I withdrew the towel.
"Would you use a paper towel that's been on the floor?"
I shrugged and tried to smile, thinking I might use one, depending on what kind of mess needed cleaning up.
"No you wouldn't."
Oooh. Were those fangs?
"l just got out of the hospital and I'm not going to use a dirty paper towel."
OH. Oh. Aha. All right, I got it. I glanced over at the wheelchair woman, who had encouraged my kindness. She smiled. Her friend smiled. I smiled back as best I could, feeling uncomfortably warm.