Do you mind if I move your coat? This happens to be my third-favorite seat on the bus. Numbers one and two are already taken.

Those are some nice headphones you got there. I used to have some just like that. They weren't very comfortable, at least for me. The nuns always used to tell me that I had small ears. And you know what that means: small ear holes. Right? Aren't they? See? Anyway, I lost those headphones with my iPod. Yeah, it was last November. October? No, I was right. November. Damn thing must have fallen out of my pocket on my way to the can. Yet again. I looked all over, but some jerk must have kyped it. I like to think that most people are honest, but sometimes your instincts are just off. Not you, though. I can tell you're one of the good guys. Know what I'm saying? On the right team. I have a sense about these things.

You have a great bone structure.

Are you doing a Sudoku? I've done a few of those. They take too much concentration. You need your full facilities to work on them, and it's just so hard to concentrate on a bus. The vibrating, the kid behind you kicking your seat, the stuffiness. Man! I don't know how you can read that big book of yours, let alone do a Sudoku.

That one right there is four.

Want a pickle? Oh. Spilled my pickles all over my bag here. You see, I'm on this diet, and I can only eat pickled goods and seafood, but that is gonna be a tough smell to get out. What an idiot! If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

Say, you like gambling? I love to gamble. Blackjack's my game. I got a system that makes me a winner every time. I could teach it to you some time, you know, if you had a little something in return. Little quid pro quo? Huh? Well, maybe later.

I know what you're thinking: "Favorite seat on the bus, lost his iPod on the bus—this guy must have a pretty interesting life to be riding the bus so much." Well, let's just say it's often necessary for me to cross state lines, and I hate flying. Plus I lost my driver's license last year because of some bullshit DWI rap. I was framed. And I can prove it. Speaking of which, I have a flask. Sterling silver. Engraved. See my initials? Just let me know if you want a little something to take the chill off.

What's out the window that's got your attention so much? Let me take a look. Ah, Arkansas. Sure are a lot of truck stops here. I thought about being a long-haul trucker, once. Decided it was for the best that I didn't, though, what with the epilepsy and all. I just don't like taking my meds. Any of them. I hate my doctor.

So, you heading to Fayetteville? To visit family, I bet? Of course you are. Why else do you go to Fayetteville? Faggotville is what I call it. Faggotville, Arkansuck. Made that one up myself.

You married? Kids? Not me. Nope. Got it all tied off down there about five years ago. But enough about me—of course you're married, guy like you. Probably have a little something on the side, too. Am I right?

You look absolutely exhausted. Boy, it sure is nice to get a little shut-eye and just tune it all out. Not a care in the world when you're in Sleepytown. I could go for a few good Zs myself. Not right now of course. There's just so much energy in here. Too much to see, and so many people to get to know. Like the nuns always said, there's no such thing as strangers, just friends you haven't met.

By the way, remember when I mentioned my favorite seats? You're in my all-time favorite. Mind if we switch? I'll just scooch over your lap here. Yeah. That's better.

You know what I hate about these bus rides? The creeps. There are some real losers out there. I met this guy once who just wouldn't say a thing all the way from Portland to Seattle. Me, chatting away, and him, not a word. I think he was a serial killer or something.

You going to the bathroom? Don't worry, your seat is safe. I'll be right here when you get back, keeping an eye on it. I'll just get these tuna sandwiches unwrapped, grab an extra pickle out of my bag for my new friend, and we can pick up right where we left off.