The Other Side Excerpt: Motley Black

From “Motley Black”:

I had to get away. It was that simple. The joys of marriage. Ah, not for me. To see him kiss her…the consummation devoutly wished—no. Even if there was the souring, as in most cases there is, to see their joys turn to folly—not right now. Oh, I enjoyed my time there, with the sun and the trees overhead and the hours singing. It was a respite of a kind, I supposed. But that time was past, as times always pass.

So I bought a bus ticket to as far as I could go from there: Key West. I didn’t know what I’d find there. I’d never been. I was sure I’d tire of it, but it is man’s condition to tire. Soon enough, yet how long it seems, he perhaps even comes to tire of life, even if he doesn’t know it. And he ends in darkness…

[In which the narrator runs afoul of a bus driver:]

“Did you not hear me demand your eyes up?”


“Answer me that!”

I replied that I would answer nothing with a tone like that.

“See, this is what I’m talking about.” This observation was apparently meant for the whole bus. “It seems we got some nonconformist here who thinks he can just sink his nose into a book in complete disregard of the rules. Well, here we are. Sir, I’m going to have to confiscate that book.”

“For what purpose?”

“It is an instrument of insubordination.”

I felt the black laughter rising up in me again. “Now, that’s a pretty phrase.”

“Sir, the book.”

I refused to honor that demand with a verbal reply.

“Give me that book, or I will tase you.”

I looked up at her bull-pig face. “Madame, I am quite certain that you will not tase me. The legal ramifications alone…”

“Sir, on this bus, I AM the LAW.”


“Sir, I done tased a body before, and I will tase a body in the future if there is a single instance of insubordination that impairs my effectiveness as a driver.”

“Madame, I fail to see how me reading my book will impair your driving capacities.”

“Sir, it is your persistent lip that undermines my ability to devote sufficient, secure attention to the other passengers.”

“Do you even know what that means?”

“Sir, now you done it…”

“Hold on, hold on here!” Foley cried as he stood up…

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