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(Photo: Davy Carren)

Brunson, he’s as regular as a faithful secretary. Always sitting on a seat under the bus shelter on Polk and Sacramento with a can of Steel Reserve in one hand and the cheapest cigar he can find in the other. Sometimes he’ll gather a few hanger-ons around him: a squirrely, ravished guy in a wrecked leather jacket who lends him sips off his handheld plastic Popov bottle, or some dipshit in spats who thinks he’s George Moscone risen from the dead. They sit and smoke and drink and scream at random people waiting for the bus.

But. But. Brunson.

He’s always there. Right on time. More regular than the 1-California going by. He lives a few block away on Clay, in an SRO, and he bums change and drinks from the local bartenders, who are usually generous enough to give him some for a joke or a bullshit story that makes them feel better about themselves.

Brunson doesn’t wonder far. He finds somewhere he likes, and he just stays there for as long as he can. Just like everyone else does. Just like everyone else.

One time, when I was walking by Brunson and his pals, I overheard a little girl asking her dad, “Daddy, when I grow up, can I be a meter maid?” And the dutiful, by-rote, high-strung father told her, “No. You cannot.” And when she asked him why, he told her, “Because that’s not a good job, Sugar. You’re better than that.” And Brunson piped up, “Hey! Shithead. Let that little lady be whatever she wants to be!” The father, revolted by the display, took her hand and hurried on, telling her to ignore the strange man in the dirty overcoat. Brunson just laughed and laughed as they walked away.

Every time I’m on the bus and we pass Brunson there on the bench at the bus stop, a tad drunk in the afternoon, smoking a cheap cigar and gabbing with his companions, I always feel so much better about the world in general. There’s Brunson. Always there, enjoying himself immensely. No matter what crap and pitiful errata I’m putting up with in my own life, he’s something, maybe the only thing, I can count on. Always there, at the bus stop, sipping on his Steel Reserve, puffing on that cheap cigar, and gabbing about it all to anyone who’ll listen. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only kind of success that I could ever give more than a shit about. One of those things I hope never ever changes, even though I know, eventually, even it will too.

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