Tuesday afternoons I always get off work around three, because I start earlier that morning than any other day of the week. Around this time the buses are always full of students, on their way home from school I guess. They pile in as far back as possible, bouncing off each other’s school bags like pin-balls. I’m sitting in the back where the seats all face the middle, leaving room for others to stand. I wish I were sitting in the pairs of seats ahead, because the sun is hitting the side of my face. I try to turn away from it but the guy beside me is reading a newspaper and I don’t have much room to shift. I’m doing my best not to stare at anything in particular. My glance darts from the variety of footwear below, to the advertisements above and then briefly around the bus, never stopping for more than a few seconds. I spot an empty soft drink cup slowly rolling between feet in front of me. The bus jerks at the next stop, and the cup drops down the steps to the rear door.
We’re somewhere between Dufferin and Bathurst when I hear a cell phone ring. My ears perk up. Recently I find myself listening to people’s conversations, especially on cell phones since I don’t have one of my own. It keeps me occupied because I can’t read on the bus, that gives me a headache. I look up quickly and across from me there’s a pretty girl about eighteen with her hands dashing through her purse. The ringing has drawn some glances her way, but she calmly pulls the phone out and puts it to her ear.
“Yep, that’s me.” –
“Um…I don’t really remember last Friday very well.” –
“Uh huh…Oh, wait…yea, I remember you!” –
I glance over again and she’s twirling her waist-length brown hair with her free hand, bouncing her crossed leg anxiously. The blue, white and black pattern of her kilt suggests a school uniform, and her feet are bound in two-inch platforms. I lean forward, resting my elbows on my thighs.
“You were the guy with the black turtle-neck and the curly hair, right?” –
“I sure did! Thanks for that drink…what was it again?” –
Her voice is suddenly excited and she giggles between her short replies. She shrugs in her shoulders and turns sideways with the phone away from the guy next to her, giving me a nice look at her profile. She has light skin, and her lips are painted a deep, thick red. Her nose has an almost perfect angle to it - not pointy but not too round either. I turn away as she glances across at me; I hate that feeling of being caught staring.
“Yea, Jenny and I took a cab home. How about you, did you get that car started?” –
“Uh huh…oh, that’s my other line, hold on, okay?” –
I look up from the floor. She swiftly moves the phone in front of her, presses a button, and jumps to the other line in one breath.
“Tony, hi.” –
“Where am I? I’m on the bus.” –
“Tony, I’m not going to talk about this right now, I’m on a bus for God’s sake. ” –
“I know we have some things to work out but can’t it wait, like, fifteen minutes?” –
“What? Tony, you’re breaking up. I gotta go.” –
She changes back to the first line, and throws her hair over her shoulder, whisking it across the face of the man beside her.
“Sorry Brad. That was my friend Cassy; she just came out of an exam. She was with me on Friday, you probably remember her.” –
“Yep, that was her. I told her that top was too tight. She was popping out before we even left the house.” –
My ears are suddenly burning with excitement. I look around, intent on finding the face of someone else following her conversation, but no one is interested, or at least no one looks interested. I change positions and sit back, thinking that I must look obvious. By now we’re nearing Yonge Street where I usually get off. Someone at the front of the bus rings the bell, and as we reach the stop, I hesitate. I have the rest of the day to myself, and this conversation’s got me hooked. I might as well stay on until Finch. The girl continues to chatter while she switches her crossed legs. I can see a faint run in her black stocking that disappears under her kilt.
“Well, thanks. You’re a pretty good dancer yourself.” –
“I don’t think I remember everything, we we’re pretty sloshed!” –
“Oh! Like what? If I’m forgetting something, you better tell me.” –
The bus is slightly less congested now that we’ve moved passed Yonge and Steeles. We’re at the next stop, and I turn to watch a huge guy barrel his way down the aisle towards me. He falls heavily into the seat on my right, vacated by the man with the newspaper a few minutes earlier. He’s carrying a Sony walkman, and the Megadeath blaring from his ears overpowers the girl’s voice, forcing me to lean forward again.
“Really? Yea, I guess I might have.” –
“Yea, it looked like they did. They we’re making out on the dance floor forever! But she doesn’t think he’ll call her.”
“Um…sure, that sounds good. But I’m really busy with school and stuff this week. Maybe we could…shit! My other line again, hold on a sec.”
She switches to the other line and catches me looking over again. I play it cool and smile, not wanting to turn away as if caught. I can see tension building in her face.
“Tony, I’m still on the bus. What do you want?” –
“I’m not going to talk about us now, you’ll have to wait.” –
“Yes I still want to be with you, but I can’t talk about this now.” –
“Goodbye Tony. I’ll call you back when I get off the bus!” –
She goes back to the other line, this time switching ears, so now I can see the phone. I don’t really know anything about cell phones, but one of my friends use to work at a Rogers kiosk and he talked about them a lot. It looks pretty small, and I’m wondering how her words are picked up since it doesn’t come close to her mouth at all. It has some kind of blue cover over it, with spaces for the buttons to show.
“Sorry, that was my mom. So, yea, I’m not really free this week, but why don’t you give me your number.” –
Nestling the phone on her shoulder, she unzips a pouch in her purse and pulls out a pen and a scrap of paper that looks like a receipt. Suddenly the huge guy rubs against me as he gets up and I look out the window to see that we’re turning into Finch station.
“Okay, so I’ll call you later on this week and we’ll talk.” –
“Sounds great. Bye!” –
The girl gets up and goes to stand in front of the back doors. I wait for the bus to stop, and then go out the door after her. She’s heading for the inside of the station and I walk a few meters behind. I want to go up to her and tell her I know what’s going on. I want to tell her what a lying bitch she is. I want to see her face when I blame her for representing all the back stabbing women players out there. I want to…
“Hey! What the fuck is your problem, buddy? You’ve been following me since we got off the bus.”
I’m stuck in my tracks.
“I saw you staring at me, you creep. Stay the hell away from me, all right? Fuck off!”
I want to say something…anything, but my tongue is ice. She turns and picks up her step, moving away from me. She’s looking back to see if I follow. A few seconds later she’s gone, and my heart rate starts decreasing. My feet come unglued and I walk with my head down the rest of the way to the station.