Reported by Josephus E. Tinnertink-McDuffle
It began as just another bus ride for Ferdinand Schwitter.
Schwitter was on his way to work at Auntie Anne’s in the Tower City food court, as he did every weekday. He took a seat towards the back of the bus, and stuck in a pair of ear buds; it was a long ride from his apartment near Lakeview Road to Tower City, and he liked to block out some of the bus noises around him.
“Music’s actually a big passion of mine. I listen to all sorts of music. The Sugarhill Gang, that one ‘Cups’ song, Jack Johnson… you know, just a good mix of stuff,” said Schwitter.
That day, he wore a fedora over frazzled bed-head hair, and a five-o-clock shadow fuzzed his expression. A stained shirt was paired with frayed jeans, and instead of gloves, he wore a small dog sweater on each hand, claiming that they kept him warmer. When he smiled, there was a gap that replaced a tooth on one side, which he believed he had lost at a rowdy pajama party late last year.
However, underneath his quirky exterior was a heart full of unbridled love.
As he stared out the scratched bus window, he watched cars and people alike pass by. White flakes swirled on the side of Euclid, as though the city of Cleveland was a recently shaken snow globe. The bus lumbered near Stokes Boulevard, and while the group of huddled individuals filed onboard, a sight appeared that captured his attention.
“You know that James Blunt song, ‘You’re Beautiful?’” Schwitter’s glassy eyes stared into the distance. “For a moment at least, I lived that song.”
A pale woman stepped onto the bus. She sat down near the doors, pulling down her hood to let tumbles of blond hair fall down to touch the seat behind her. A pair of fuzzy pink earmuffs covered her ears.
As the famous James Blunt song streamed through Schwitter’s headphones, the woman whom he described as “the most beautiful woman in da world” sat three rows ahead.
Immediately, Schwitter felt his emotions change. His heart began to beat faster, and he noticed himself wringing his hands. Meanwhile, she rummaged through her purse and then sat silently in her seat.
Outside, Cleveland continued to pass by, but the man in the back of the Healthline saw the world through a new set of eyes.
“When the doors opened at each bus stop, wind would gush in and blow past her. She smelled so nice too, so much better than the Healthline after the morning rush. She must have rubbed a tree-scented car fresheners all over herself, like I do before I go out.” He sighed, looking down at the ground with a small smile. “We had so much in common.”
Soon, he mustered up the courage to scoot further up in the bus, until he sat a row behind the mysterious woman. As James Blunt continued to sing his high-pitched song over Schwitter’s headphones, an idea zapped into his mind: “I thought I would serenade her, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ style,” he said.
“Na na na, na,” He started to sing in beat with the song, “na na na, na, hey,” he sang lightly to the woman seated in front of him.
He continued: “You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful, it’s true.”
She glanced over her shoulder to see Schwitter hovering there with a wide smile, then immediately turned back around, her shoulders stiffened.
For a man who had never fallen in love before, this seemed like a good sign. Throughout his life, Schwitter had only had a few relationships, none of them lasting over a few months.
“My past girlfriends, they would just eventually start getting really snippy with me, always telling me that I was kind of creepy,” said Schwitter, “but I don’t really see it.”
As he continued singing, the woman stood up and walked over to the door. Schwitter stopped singing and said to her, “Can I have your number?”
She gave no response and turned away from him. “Can I have it?” he asked, a little more desperate.
Soon, the bus screeched to a halt, and the woman stepped off the Healthline, and out of the man’s life.
The entire exchange lasted less than five minutes.
“Needless to say, I was lost in the depths of my emotions for a while,” he said. “Sometimes I still think about her, glowing in the sunlight by the Healthy’s windows.” A single tear lingers at the corner of his eye. “I didn’t even get her number,” he mutters as he brushes it away.
The Athenian searched Cleveland for the existence of the woman Schwitter described. She preferred to remain anonymous in the interview, but noted that the man on the Healthline would certainly never be getting her number or any personal information for that matter.
This fact stunned Schwitter, but he continued to persevere. “Maybe someday, I’ll meet a beautiful stranger on the Healthline and I will get her number.” He smiles, lifting himself up from the tragedy. “I will get it.”