The Tourists Say
The tourists get on the bus.
The tourists talk over the heads of others. The tourists say, “Wow, this bus is short.”
“Shorter than the buses at home.”
The tourists say, “Wow, it sure is dark.”
“Yeah but it was light at 6 yesterday when we were walking around.”
The tourists say, “Still not used to the time change. Ha ha.” Funny tourists. Time is always difficult. Change is difficult, too!
The tourists pass their phones back and forth and say, “She could do better than him.”
The tourists say, “Did she say he’s a waiter.” What’s he waiting for?
Ding! People leave the bus in the middle, and get on in the front. Move to the back, everybody! The tourists laugh and laugh and watch the shuffle of the locals, move to the back.
The tourists tap on the plastic chair tops and say, “Does this sound like a G#? It’s an A flat at home.” Tap, tap, tap. What musical creatures the tourists are! Tap, tap.
The bus takes a detour and the tourists say, “Where does this bus drop us off?”
The tourists say, “I’ll look at my map.” The map is full of stars. Stars leading the way towards restaurants and bars and pubs where bootleggers walked a little funny with their pants full of bottles. Who knows how many stars? More than the night sky? Don’t ask the tourists, they’re on vacation!
The tourists talk slam poetry. This is the birthing place of slam poetry. Slam slam! The
Toursits say words like this. Moving their hands like they’re walking with an invis- able beach ball.
Artistic tourists! They saw the museums. The tourist pet the lions on the front steps. The tourists waited in line to see a blue lobster and say, “That’s one in a million.” What are the odds? Well, it’s 1:1000000. Cultured tourists!
The tourists should go a little further south. They should see the wood carvings artists people made in times of revolution. Around around! But revolution is scary and our tourists are precious. A commodity. Don’t scare the tourists away.
The tourists say, “Would you want to live here?” The tourists momentarily wish to abandon their status as tourists in a lucid dream of simplicity. The tourists impose their futures on the landscape and weigh created memories before saying, “It’s too cold here.” The tourists don’t think about the summers.
The bus hits a pothole. “Oof. Woah.” The tourists don’t know the roads will be filled in next year. It’s an election year and Mayor wants to show how great he’s made the city before he leaves. The tourist say, “The bus drivers here are crazy. Aren’t they crazy?”
Ding! The ropes are pulled taught, taught, tight, and people get off in the middle, with a little tap, tap, tap on the door, and people come on in the front. A gun fires in the distance and the firer’s outcome depends on his skin. President calls it ‘dangerous’ here.
The bus loops around and elevates.
The tourists look out the window and say, “It’s beautiful here. Look at the skyline. Look at the purple sky. Would you look at that skyline?” One tower used to be the tallest in the world and when it wasn’t they added antennae like a kid reaching up against his closet hinges. Big shoulders bear a heavy burden.
The tourists say, “I don’t think I could live anywhere without an ocean. I can’t believe I left the ocean. I miss the ocean but would you look at that skyline? Please.” The tourists nod with the beautiful skyline like they carved it out themselves.
The tourists are too silent, so they scoff, “They charge 7 cents for bags here. I’d go broke on bags.” The tourists don’t know it’s an initiative to raise funds to fix the potholes, but instead made people bring tote bags everywhere they go, or better yet, hold their items, their chips, their bottles, their books, which cut down on plastic but didn’t raise the funds to fix the road, so the driver hits another bump. Whoa!
The tourists say, “Smells like chocolate. Isn’t that nice? How nice?” The chocolate factory swells with smoky cacao. The chocolate factory has been there forever. Forever. It used to be surrounded by plants. Slaughter plants, not the jungle kind of plants! Piggies went in, ham hocks came out. Now that was a smell. Woo-ee. Take that in.
The tourists press their palms to the glass, covering the signage for a West Town eatery, saying, “I would eat there all the time.” The tourists would never go hungry, but never be fulfilled. When that restaurant was a plant, sometimes humans would go in, and they’d come out with the ham hocks. Ham hock human butcher of the world. “It’s so cute!” Delish!
“The squirrels are different here,” the tourists say. “Did you notice that?” Some things the tourists are just wrong about. They should see the rats! The rats are a marvel! The rats scamper faster than the humans through their alleys, and make feasts from all the bounties the humans couldn’t handle. Go rats, eat that pumpkin! Nobody ever writes books about squirrels.
The tourists point and say, “Wasn’t that our street? Isn’t that our stop?” It’s their’s now. Our’s is all’s.
The tourists found their guest house through a BnB app that doesn’t offer breakfast. The tourists’ cousin’s friend stayed in that part of town once and thought it was really cool. They thought it was gritty and cool. Cool!
If the tourists ride that bus much longer, they’re going to assume the worst of the city. They’ll see buildings with plywood and say, “This is a bad landscape.” If only they knew the towers they admired were built on swampland, where streets were piled on top of each other, and then had streets piled on top of them. Then, the tourists would really say “Wow.”
The tourists will say, “That was nice.” And it’s nice to be nice. The tourists can’t say anything else, because they don’t have the whole story. How can they know the whole story in a few days?
They’ll get off the bus and walk down the street, then turn around and walk back like they meant to. Silly tourists.
The tourists have truly grasped the culture in the last 43 hours. The tourists are one of us. We are the tourists, too. They don’t mind.
The tourists nod off in their guesthouse with thoughts of the ocean.
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