(Written 1996 from a story my wife told me in the mid ‘80’s)
Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. My wife gets on the bus. As she steps on there’s a man sitting near the front, a skinny black fellow in a bright red wig. Barking. Bow wow! Bow wow wow! Barks at her as she passes. And at the next person. And the next. Bow wow wow wow! The bus rolls along west-bound on Sunset Blvd. At every stop people have to walk by him to get off the bus. Bow wow! People getting on walk by. Bow wow wow! Sounding just like a little dog. A Dog Man.
My wife took a seat near the back. Across the aisle from her was another guy, praying quietly to himself, big stack of religious tracts in his hand, oblivious to the canine goings-on. Time to spread the Word. He gets up and begins working the aisle from the back of the bus. Everybody gets a Praise the Lord! and a pamphlet. It’s rush hour and the bus is busy and it’s slow going up the length of the bus with all the riders coming and going. Way up front the man in the orange wig bow wows. Finally the itinerant preacher reaches the front where Dog Man sits. Bow wow! Other riders try to warn him, but Preacher is on a mission. Dog Man eyes him warily, and barks a warning. Bow wow! Preacher gives him a big smiling Praise the Lord! and hands him a pamphlet. Bow wow! Dog Man just glares from under that bright orange wig. Preacher looks at him and thrusts the pamphlet toward him again. Praise the Lord! Bow wow wow! Bow wow wow wow! Dog Man is upset. Bow wow wow! People are staring. Preacher tries another Praise the Lord! but—bow wow wow!—this Dog fella ain’t taking. Bow wow wow! The driver looks back in the rearview kind of irritated. Passengers are starting to giggle. Preacher backs off, tract still in his hand, praising and praising. Bow wow! Dog Man glares after him as he disappears into the back of the bus. Bow wow! People getting on the bus. Bow wow!
Preacher sits back down across from my wife, clutching the last of his pamphlets and praying. The Word just takes him on up, and he’s praying aloud, rocking in his seat, Praising the Lord! and clapping his hands. Praising the Lord! and clapping his hands. Praising and clapping. Praising. Clapping. Clap. Clap. Clap.
Up front, Dog man stops barking and listens, cocking his orange-wigged head. Listening. Then he takes in a deep breath and bellows—“Stop that clapping back there!” The whole bus falls silent. Preacher freezes mid clap, and folds his hands in his lap and looks around sheepishly. “That brought out the Devil in him” he grins.
My wife’s stop was next. She stood up and walked to the exit. Dog Man sees her. Bow wow! Bow wow! Bow wow wow! All the way to the front of there bus. As she stepped off she looked back one more time at that skinny little man in that bright orange wig. He gave her a canine stare. Bow wow! And as the doors shut behind her, the bow wows disappeared in a cloud of exhaust and the sounds of rush hour traffic.