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Cast of Real Characters Found Aboard 70 Bus

Justin McNeil, left, and John Muller ride a crowded 70 bus. Their play about the 70 bus experience has its first performance tonight. It's free.
Justin McNeil, left, and John Muller ride a crowded 70 bus. Their play about the 70 bus experience has its first performance tonight. It's free. (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

"Yes, I'm on the 70," Frazier said, talking on her cellphone. "I know. I just got off this nice, plush Montgomery County bus, and now I'm on this. It was freezing cold on that bus. Now I'm on a place where there's no air conditioning."

Riders have a love-hate relationship with the 70, perhaps because of the strange goings-on.

"Oh, let me tell you about yesterday," one bus driver, S. J. Wilkes, said in an interview. "A man who was six feet tall came on with a miniskirt. And he was wearing no underwear. The man sitting across from him said, 'Oh, hell no,' and walked off. Another woman, she just sat there staring. She couldn't believe what she was seeing."

Two nights after their unproductive trip, McNeil and Muller tried again. They boarded in Chinatown, heading north. This time, a teenager was singing an out-of-tune version of "Love," a popular R&B song by Keyshia Cole. Three men in dark shades were playing a dice game in the back.

"No, man!" one yelled. "You're cheatin'!"

Some obscenities followed.

The alleged cheater ran out the back door with a pair of New Balance shoes in his hand.

Near Howard University, about three miles away from Chinatown, McNeil saw a familiar face -- the man in the blond wig. Once again the guy circled the bus. Once again he didn't get on.

"What is up with that dude?" McNeil asked. That man probably has a good story, he said.

Most people on the 70 have stories, Muller said. Even though you might not want to talk to some of them because they smell or look odd, Muller said, they all have something interesting to say.

"Why are you talking about me?" asked passenger Peter Whyte, who had appeared to be sleeping. "I've been listening to you two since I got on. Man, you two are so condescending."

"We're not talking about you, sir," McNeil said.

"But you're right," Whyte said. "Everybody has highs; everybody has lows. . . . You shouldn't judge people."

He stood up at Randolph Street and Georgia Avenue NW. "I have to go now. This is my stop," he said. "I need to do some research."

Muller asked: "What are you studying?"

"Astrology," the man yelled as he came off the bus.

McNeil shook his head.

"That's the 70," he said.

"The 70" will be performed at the MLK Library, 901 G St. NW, at 6:45 pm. Tuesdays through Thursdays through Aug. 10, with no performance Aug. 1., and at 3:30 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 12. Admission is free. The playwrights say the material is suitable for anyone 13 or older. The library is a short walk from the 70 bus's stop at Seventh and H streets NW.


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