Mr. Kent

Dance had no trouble handling the batch of gangbangers on the bus with their boombox turned up too loud. The brown kids were bored, arguing and scuffling with each other. The dred-wearing girls kept slapping each other in sudden gunshot smacks, yelling. At first they sashayed up the aisle, looking for somebody amusing, and they ignored Drin and Emma in favor of a friend nearby. The least-respected one kept standing with her hip propped out contemptuously into Emma’s face.
When some movement drew their attention to Emma, it was Dance, sitting in front of them, who distracted them. He held up a scavenged newspaper and turned the pages noisily, rattling nervously, as if he was hiding behind it. It drew the girls away from peering at Emma.
When they responded by gathering around him, poking one another and laughing at the sight of him, he shrank behind the paper and made himself look very small and not very smart. While Dance pretended to be incapable of speaking English, Drin and Emma sat on the seat behind them, staring up with wide eyes, sitting together petrified, like some lost Midwestern tourists. Emma made sure to blink widely, and smile a lot.
As the boys came up, trailing after the girls to find the amusement, the girls hung over the grab rails and made faces at Dance, laughing, while he spoke in some language Emma had never heard from him before. Sputtering something about “hangooks,” with all the English words nearly buried in a thick staccato rude-sounding accent. He was very convincing, with his hair all messy and his legs at awkward angles crammed into the bus seat and all of his body language that of some poor guy right off the boat who’d bought all his clothes at a thrift shop, terrified of getting into any trouble with the authorities.
He was noisily relieved when they got off at several stops in turn, too.
Drin had eventually dared to lean forward and murmur, “You’re having way too much fun, Mister Kent,” which made Dance chuckle somewhere down in his chest.
“What about Missus Peel there?” Dance murmured, laughing at her over his shoulder.

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