The Affront


But my dream had come true! Yes, it was unfolding before my eyes! It wasn’t a proper dream, this dream that was coming true. Nor was it a particularly lofty or honorable dream. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with my aspirations about coming up in the world, or the realization of some long-awaited romantic conquest. No, this wasn’t a proper dream come true. This was a dream of the fleeting sort, a daydream that springs from one’s festering anger! But did I not tell you? Yes, oh yes I am an exceedingly angry man! I know what they are thinking, those other people you see, even though they make no outward indication of their thoughts. Ha-ha-ha!

“That is a ridiculous hat,” they say, “so take it off at once! You are an embarrassment to humanity, to reason!” Only they don’t say it because they are cowards. But I know they are thinking it! I can see through their insufferable nonchalance! I oblige them! I oblige them every one, by slapping them with the hat as I remove it from my head. Only I don’t because they are cowards.

“Yes, you are a worm, a mere vermin! I would spit in your face if it was worth the saliva,” they tell me reproachfully. Only  they abstain from this outward expression of their pure irrational hatred  for me, but I can see through it, I tell you–I can see straight through it! I spit in their faces when they tell me those things! I douse them in vile saliva–only I don’t because they daren’t give me cause, outwardly!

You may call me a madman, but I know, I know—I tell you, I know! How can you know, you may say? What evidence have you? I know it, I tell you. It’s fixed in my mind like a sensual capacity. But what do I bother you with these daydreams for? It happened, I tell you. It happened to me only a short while ago! My suspicions were confirmed! No, not suspicions! I knew all along, I tell you, knew it to be the truth!

I will tell you what happened and you will see that I am not mad. It happened that I had to catch the bus home on a a rainy afternoon. And I had forgot my umbrella and my coat, or I would have walked home in the rain. It was circumstance forced me to ride the bus with them and their insufferably faux indifference. But I will continue: I boarded the bus half-soggy, for it had been a miserably wet evening, you see. I will not tell you how I fought to get onto that bus, nor that how the perfectly civilized appearances of all of the passengers gave way to those of unruly savages the instant the bus doors shrieked open, revealing no less than twenty available seats! No, I needn’t describe any of that.

I will only describe how that once I had broken through the throng of flailing arms and half-closed umbrellas, I descried at the end of the bus a lone seat adjacent to that of a tall yellow haired chap wearing an inert expression. As I moved closer I realized that from under that man’s exceedingly prominent brow, overgrown with unwieldy yellow hair peered two piercing blue eyes. Yes, he was watching me closely! He fixed his eyes on me as if he wanted to control my movements with them. I interpreted his stare instantaneously.

“Don’t you dare sit next to me!” they said.

“Ha-ha!” I thought, “you will pay for your cowardice, and I will relish every moment of our ride together!”

I moved toward the seat preparing to tacitly torture my foe, but it was not to be! He raised his awful, long legs and planted his feet in the seat that I had all but claimed for myself, glowering at me with those hateful blue eyes. I stopped where I was and looked upon him in amazement. He didn’t flinch, but looked past me and motioned to someone with his finger. Before I could understand the meaning of his gesture, I received a nudge in the back. I swiveled round to see who it was, and looked down to see a shining bald head attached to one of the most corpulent frames I have ever set eyes on. He was short, so that his eyes only reached my chin, but he did not deign to meet my eyes with his. He only stood before me and after a few moments cleared his throat in a manner that said, ” I do not intend to speak to you, but I would have you know that you are obstructing my path of travel.”

Well what can I tell you? I had resolved at that instant that I would not let him move past me. I could see that this disgusting creature was a confederate of my tall yellow-haired fiend sitting behind me. But fate had vetoed it! The bus jolted forward and I lost my balance. A large, bony hand ushered me aside in that unfortunate instant, and the rotund confederate sped to his place next to that blue eyed menace!

“Thank you good sir!” says he.

“Oh, no! I am positively honored sir, honored!” came the obsequious reply.

But my legs did not recover in time. I had not been aware of my fall at first, such was my amazement. But a high pitched squeal and a shove in the back politely informed me that I had been seated upon the lap of a lady three paces away from the initial incident, and would you kindly remove yourself from that spot!

I jumped up as soon as my senses were about me, and turned to make my sincerest apologies to the lady. Imagine my anguish, reader, when she turned away from me and motioned me away with her hand before I had even begun to explain myself. My cheeks were on fire, but not with rage; the eyes of every passenger within view spewed torrid lava upon my visage, threatening to destroy me altogether!

I turned to my fiend, who at the moment had joined the mob in scrutinizing my being with a look of disapprobation. The nerve, reader, the very nerve! The path of action toward the perfect revenge eluded me at that moment. My larynx seized in my throat, refusing to allow me to speak. My whole body trembled so that I could scarcely stand upon my feet. The shame of it, the shame!

By degrees, the eyes turned away, and the fog that had taken possession of my being lifted. My fiends forgot me, and I pretended to forget them. And don’t you know reader that, once out on the street again, amid the puddles and the steam, the final, soft droplets of the evening’s rainfall and the slanted rays of sun, I discovered how I should have executed my revenge in the face of that affront; and the electrical impulses that had produced the rankling in my brain began, for the moment, to weaken.


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