by James Sykes
At long last the bus arrives, but where is it going?
|Bus 86 by James Sykes.
Reaching the bus stop was a welcome relief from the rain. It was the shitty kind of rain, more like a constant mist that would soak you slowly and freeze you to death. It was dark and the bus stop had no glass in the sides, or a working bulb in the overhead light. Also the timetables had been painted over with red spray paint. So now the times were impossible to read. Jeremy looked at the time on his phone. It read 18:06 he stamped his foot impatiently, hoping the rhythm of his beat would some how warm him up a little. It was freezing and Jeremy felt utterly miserable and hollow. The rain was unbearable and the wind seemed to whip him from every side. Even worse now that Jeremy's nose started to drip. "Where is that God dammed bus?" At this moment a little old lady in a head-scarf and a walking frame approached the bus stop. She seemed to be pretty well protected from the wind and the rain but her hands that gripped the walker were white as bone.
"Good evening." Jeremy offered her a sympathetic smile, but the woman said nothing. "Do you know what time the 86 bus from cliff top comes by any chance?"
The little old lady shook her head “Any-time now I suppose.” Was her vague reply. Jeremy was glad to have some company but the little old lady seemed a little standoffish, however Jeremy was intent on befriending his bus stop companion.
"its Cold tonight innit?" he even added a little brrrrrrrrrrrr to confirm his conviction. The little old lady smiled at him with ancient yellow teeth, her eyes sparkling like deep-set black stones in a face like a piece of well chewed meat.
"It's parky." Was her agreement. "Feels like waiting for ever. We could die in this cold!" Was her rather gloomy observation. She looked up and Jeremy could see headlights in the distance, stopped at traffic lights. Through the rain it was also possible to see the illuminated display of the bus but impossible to read what it said.
"Looks like the it's urm, coming now!" Jamie was hopeful; he put his hand in the pocket of his coat and rattled the coins in his fingers.
"Yes, here he is." The old lady took her senior-citizens bus pass our of her pocket. It was in a clear plastic wallet, well protected. The traffic lights changed to green and the bus drove towards them, agonizingly slowly. When the bus arrived in front of the bus stop, very carefully so not to splash them with the puddle that had formed in the gutter. It's breaks gave a long loud pissssssssssssss. It lowered it's self and the doors opened. Jeremy let the old lady get on first then stepped inside, the doors shut behind him. "Is this the 86 from cliff top?" The bus driver looked like some villainous henchman of some terrible vampire. He was wearing a dark blue jumper, cap, shirt and tie. His name tag said Boris and his face had never seen happiness or humour, or if it had it was a very long time ago.
"Tonight it is yes." Jeremy slapped the two pound coin in the tray for the driver who immediately gave it back. "It’s free." He said and started driving. Using the hand grips and the seats Jeremy found his way to a seat. The bus wasn't empty there was the old woman and a guy in A light coloured Hoodie clutching his arm and seemed to be in quite a lot of pain, every time the bus moved he shivered with pain.
The little old lady seemed to be chewing sweets or something hard and crunchy; she was staring off into the distance, hardly seemed to be aware of her surrounds. All the time, crunching. The sound made Jeremy feel sick in his stomach. The night was dark and the wind and rain whipped the bus wickedly from all sides. He looked at the window over his right shoulder, seeing a hand print in dripping red on his side of the window. “What the ...” He started saying under his breath, but the bus roared onwards in a sudden jerk pressing him into his seat and flipping his stomach which sloshed inside of him. The bus got faster and Jeremy noticed that the boy in the hooded tracksuit in the seat just in front of him was dabbing a tissue at his bleeding nose. Jeremy stared at him figuring out what had happened to him. The bus route was on the road of the main local hospital, with the service for the accidents and emergencies. But that was half a mile in the other direction. Maybe the poor guy didn’t realise? Jeremy’s heart started to beat methodically faster in his chest.