Oct/Nov 2012  •   Fiction

Bus Stop Blues

by Steve Monger

The Ramones in my ears fades away, and a sudden wave of maternal comfort shrouds the bus stop. These two old dears don't know each other from Adam, but they're straight into effortless conversation like lifelong buddies.

"Bus is late again," says one of them with a smile.

The other returns a warm, accepting beam, far removed from the polite one I would have offered.

"It's okay," she replies, "I like the seats on the next one." She leans in to her new friend and half whispers, "He's my favorite driver."

They share a mischievous chuckle in harmony, that funny laugh all old ladies have. And they begin to talk and talk about anything and everything—like reunited old friends they chuckle away at each other's stories. Sixty years in the making, this moment; two contented old minds soldiering on through the decay, and I'm just a tourist. A wretch from the night before.

The smaller of the old dears glances over, and I look away, conscious of my sunken eyes and tangled hair, greased with old sweat. I rub the inside joint of my arm, covering the marks with a trembling hand.

I listen in closely. And think of warm roast dinners, and log fires, and crosswords, and cups of tea with saucers—always with saucers. You'd leave their house with a nice big chunk of cake you never asked for in the first place, tightly wrapped up in a folded napkin. Or maybe some pink wafer biscuits. There's no bitterness or regret at this bus stop. It's pure and genuine and self-assured.

I want to confide and confess but quickly decide against it. I'm on my way home to sleep, after all, and they have just started their day. Maybe one day I'll understand their little jokes, I think, maybe one day I'll have a favorite bus driver.

The bus arrives, and the next track kicks in.