Monday, 1 October 2018

Round 40.


The man standing in the middle of the bus lane is wearing a white, two-piece judo suit. It is too hot to be wearing a white, two-piece judo suit and since he never practices judo in or outside of a bus lane, it is not altogether clear that he is aware of the white, two-piece judo suit.

Or even the bus lane.

However, he does look cool, albeit very hot.

He is listening to music with the aid of solid black headphones that cover most of the side of his head; his eyes are blue yet distant.

Another man, who is driving a number 17 Bus along the same bus lane is, for the moment, also distant. He has just stopped outside the Spar grocery store, where a line of people is waiting to board.

The grocery store is in the middle of an exceptional promotional campaign for their household cleaning products and each of the people waiting to board is carrying a bottle of detergent.

The bus driver is waiting for an elderly passenger to alight at the rear of the bus before opening the front door to let the bottles of detergent enter. Although the driver is hot and would like to open this door as soon as possible, protocol forbids it. Contrary to the same protocol, the bus driver is wearing a dress; the waiting passengers can not see this from where they are standing.

Even though the bus driver appreciates the comfort of the dress on what is a savagely hot day, it is not in his nature, and he is wearing the dress out of solidarity with his colleagues that were prevented from wearing shorts by the management when they complained about the excessive heat.

The shorts were deemed to be inappropriate attire and at odds with the company’s strict dress code.

The dress code says nothing about male drivers wearing dresses.

The elderly passenger alighting from the rear of the bus knows that the driver is wearing a dress and is quite thrilled by the thought; she thinks the driver’s knees are rather cute. She has resolved to flirt a little with him the next time she takes the bus. This will be tomorrow afternoon after she has finished her swimming session at the local municipal pool.

She doesn’t like swimming but her doctor has advised it because of her back problems. These are the result of her former occupation; her career as a competitive weight lifter was cut short by extreme sciatica. Right now she is struggling even to carry the two shopping bags of empty detergent bottles that she is returning to the grocery so that she can claim the refundable deposits. She intends the money to go towards her holiday she has booked for the end of the month. 

Unfortunately she will be dead before the week is out.

The first person to get on the bus, once the doors are open, is a young woman who is employed at the local gymnasium as a cleaner, the detergent is for the toilets. It is not the favourite part of her job.

The second  is in love with the cleaner from the local gymnasium and he has been following her all day. He has bought the detergent in the hope it will serve as a way of introduction.

The third person to step onto the bus made a mistake. He thinks the detergent that he has bought is vinegar and he is intending to use it to make a salad dressing for the corporate picnic that his company has organised for the weekend.

The last person to enter the bus knows the driver and says hello. They hand over one of the two bottles of detergent they are carrying with them in lieu of payment for a ticket. The driver is privy to this arrangement and places the bottle next to the cabbage and oatcakes he has already acquired. He wonders if by googling the words ‘cabbage+oatcakes+vinegar’he will find a recipe suitable for his evening meal; he too is mistaken concerning the bottle of detergent.

Closing the door of the bus the driver slips the vehicle back into traffic. He is thinking about the dinner party he has organised for later. He has invited the neighbour, a wild and beautiful woman who comes from the west coast of a distant island that he has trouble pronouncing the name of. He doesn’t know much about her , nor she he, but she has accepted as much out of curiosity as politeness.

This is a good sign.

She too will be happy to know that the driver is wearing a dress.

As the bus eases back into the traffic she is walking on the pavement in the opposite direction towards the grocery store, and she is smoking. She has promised herself that this will be her last cigarette ever, and the fact that she will pass the grocery store without stopping to replace the empty packet lying crumpled in her right hand bares testimony to her resolve. She is left-handed.

She looks up and sees the number 17 bus coming towards her and raises her arm and waves. 

The bus driver’s eyes meet hers and smiling, he waves back.

He doesn’t see the man standing in the middle of the bus lane.

That man is wearing a white, two piece judo suit and it is unclear whether he is aware of either the judo suit or the bus lane.

And certainly not the bus.

In the grand scheme of life’s chances and the opportunities it throws our way, this is, perhaps, an error.

(sorry - on the road yesterday - the editor)

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