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The man in the seat in front of them has the body proportions of an overfed infant, the mannerisms of a sleep-deprived eight-year-old and the mustache of an octogenarian Groucho Marx impersonator on his deathbed. He is drinking, compulsively, from a battered cardboard coffee cup that has been empty at least since the station, and may have been brought empty from home for not the first time. A chewed plastic straw intended for bubble-tea sticks far out of it, pushing along the side of his face into the frame of his glasses as he gulps determinedly at nothing. Periodically he sets the cup down in the aisle beside his seat to put on or take off a layer of clothing, which he does in multiple small, furtive movements, reclaiming the cup in between each, the way one might reassemble a broken cassette player while riding a bicycle. When not drinking from the cup, he holds it in front of his face with his left hand, and alternately presses his right one against his mouth in a fist, knuckles out, and then opens it to bat lightly at the cup with the tips of his fingers, as if trying to dislodge aphids from the rim without killing them.  

He wears heavy, yellowing work-boots worn nearly through on the outside of the heels, and sits with his feet splayed sideways like a limp doll's. Dressing and undressing reveals a white T-shirt with the logo of a car wash I've never heard of, under a green cardigan that seems to be acrylic abused to the texture of terry-cloth, under a plasticky black jacket with a powder-blue anime horse on the back, under a red hooded cotton sweatshirt with the insignia of a high-school junior-varsity hockey team called the Waltham Hawks. When he takes off his hat, a dense ring of hair on the sides of his head fans out around a perfect bald dome like a disarrayed crown of soap-stiffened black felt jammed too far down onto an old volleyball varnished pearlescently pink. He carries thick stacks of colored paper in two thin plastic shopping bags, and also an empty vinyl courier bag on a long and tightly-twisted shoulder-strap.  

They exchange relieved glances when he gets off the bus less than a mile into the route. They have identically trim legs in identically snug tan corduroy pants with back-pocket flaps like birthday-card envelopes, and I am surprised to be surprised when I look up and discover that they do seem to be twins. Their earrings are different, and their hats, and the one on the aisle is wearing athletic shoes in which you wouldn't actually run.  

In the seat behind them, I am listening to a Japanese metal band playing American Christmas songs at triple speed, and daydreaming about new shoes I didn't wear today, and waiting for the bus to drive slowly off the end of the world.
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