Bus 281

Bus 281

The bus driver did not look at me when I entered the bus. I spared him a glance as he sped away from the bus stop and grabbed a red pole to steady myself before I flopped into my seat.

“Sorry,” I apologized to the man on the window seat when I regained my balance and saw what my lipstick had done to his sleeve.

He shrugged and smiled.

Whenever we approached a bus stop, we lurched forward as the driver braked and we fell backwards as he accelerated again. No one got on the bus.

At the intersection between Park and Jacob Street, a grey Toyota on the opposite lane, anxious to beat the red light, navigated a left turn. But it was caught in the middle of the road, in the path of our angry bus. The bus driver brought the bus within scratching distance of the Toyota. The Toyota driver inched further left. The bus growled and heaved. I felt the faltering bravery of the Toyota driver. Chatter climbed a few decibels.

Vroom, vroom, vroom! The bus driver’s impatience bellowed from the engine.

“Go! Go! Go!” the passengers cheered and clapped, with necks extended.

The lights turned green and the Toyota rolled into Jacob Street just as the bus charged forward. I fell back in my seat and began to breathe again.

Five hundred metres before my stop, I pressed the button. The buzz pierced the chatter and the display flashed, STOP, in the monitor overhead. Moments later, I stood and held a red pole to brace myself, but the driver rode past the bus stop.

The passenger sitting beside me called out, “Chauffeur!” More passengers called, “Chauffeur!” and then chanted, “Chauffeur! Chauffeur! Chauffeur!” stamping their feet to match the two syllables in the word.

Eventually the driver swerved towards the kerb. Passengers rose and shambled to the door like zombies. The driver lowered the belly of the bus and the door puffed before opening. Twilight had bowed to a moonless night and we were in the middle of nowhere.

“The world is full of crazy people. Get out while you can,” called the driver.

My feet developed roots and I watched all the passengers except the man I sat beside, file out of the bus. They wore pale blue tops and trousers. He nudged me and we got off together.

The passengers in pale blue led the way. Their voices floated and filled the night. In the absence of buildings and street lamps, the tree branches were monsters looking on. Reprieve from the darkness came from a dim signpost where the passengers melted into the shadows.I read the sign, National Psychiatric Hospital, and we quickened our pace. His presence by my side, kept me from running. The next bus stop was still ahead.

The bus stop, a pole with a twisted metal sign, offered no protection from the night. I checked my phone. The battery was dead.

“Mine too,” he shrugged.

Darkness stretched time like fitted sheets that are too small. I stifled the urge to pee. The wind whistled through the leaves.

“Did you hear?”

“What?” I replied.

“I thought I heard my name,” he turned in a semi-circle.

“Me t . . . t . . .  too.”

We huddled closer. Then he started singing, “Love is like two dreamers dreamin the exact same dream . . .”

“Nightmoves, Michael Franks,” I mumbled.

“Marry me,” he whispered.

The leaves answered the wind, “Whooosh!” and fell to the ground. But the wind whistled back in hot pursuit gathering leaves in its arms and spinning them round and round. Some leaves broke free and circled our feet. Something in the pit of my stomach churned.

The music begins and the titles fade in, starrin’ you and me. The hero is struggling to say that his lady is far away in her prison of wishes . . . ,” he continued singing.

Headlights appeared in the distance. I moved as far out to the edge of the road as I dared and waved.

“Marry me!” his voice was urgent.

The thing in my stomach grew. My chest rose and threatened to pop the buttons of my blouse. I darted to the middle of the road and waved my hands with all my might.

Two yellow eyes flashed twice, cutting through the darkness. The sound of the engine grew louder. I ran to the side just as the bus screeched to a stop, lowered her belly, and the doors swung open. I clambered in and willed the driver to read my eyes.

“Close the door!” I screamed.

“Aha, the world is full of crazy people, get in while you can,” he smiled and sped away.

I turned and watched the passenger singing and dancing as his pale blue form retreated into the darkness, then flopped into my seat. I closed my eyes and opened them when I started breathing through my nose again, grateful for street lamps. By now, the bus was ambling over the cobblestones of the deserted shopping district. I saw our reflection on the floor-to-ceiling windows and squinted to read the inscription on the side of the bus, Bus 281: Property of The National Psychiatric Hospital.

“Honey, just marry the idiot already. One of these days he’s gonna tire of the game and find someone else,” the bus driver caught my eye in the rearview mirror and winked.

I looked at his shirt, pale blue. I looked down at my blouse, pale blue. I fainted.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

——–

Michael Franks, Nightmoves, from the album, The Art of Tea.

Image credit: illustrations from Microsoft

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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70 thoughts on “Bus 281

  1. I was directed here by a comment from a different story on your blog. I did not regret checking it out. The story line is enthralling through and through. The suspense score of the story hits the roof at the point where the strange fellow randomly said “Marry me.” I really enjoyed reading.
    One thing that comes to mind in reviewing prior comments is the amazing connect or gulf between what inspired your story and what you were able to create with it. I guess this make the difference between those who can, and those who cannot do what you do. I begin to realize everyday that all humans are inspired everyday but few can get creative with what inspires them and even fewer can translate that creativity into something others can enjoy or relate with. I remember you once rated yourself 6 out of 10 on a scale of writing. I think you were being extremely modest. This lovely short story is another testimony of your creative genius. I enjoyed this short story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for checking out the story. I’m really glads it was worth your while.
      You are so generous with your feedback and praise, thank you.

      I like to think nothing is ever wasted, that we can harness all we’ve ever been and all we are to make something beautiful. For me, it’s writing. For others it could be music, code, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Timi!!!!!!
    Absolutely loved it!! Well done!
    I just love me some good old thriller.

    When I read “Bus 281 : Propriety of the national psychiatric hospital”, I was like there she goes again 😊
    You killed it!
    Could be the start of you writing script for movies 😉

    Like

    1. Afi!!!!! 😀

      I wanted to write a story after ‘talking’ about storytelling for a while. I wanted to use Gustav’s Dramatic Arc, achieve narrative transport, and so on and so forth. I struggled with direction for a while. I was relieved when the story finally decided to ‘twist’ itself into a thriller 😉
      Really loving your support. Thanks!

      Like

  3. “Marry me”

    “Aha, the world is full of crazy people, get in while you can”

    “Honey, just marry the idiot already….”

    Hehehehehe. One more anecdote for my argument that romantic love is a form of madness.

    Like

  4. What a “crazy” ride- no pun intended. I seriously thought in was truth until your reveal at the end. As a reader i felt myself speeding up and lurching like the bus as I read. Well done!

    Like

    1. Who knows? As Michael Franks sings:

      Love has locked us up, Peaches,
      Locked inside this zoo,
      Your bananas get thrown at me
      And mine get thrown at you.
      Ev’ry night we fuss and fight
      Like Arabs and like Jews,
      I guess love is always just:
      Love is monkey see and monkey do . . . 😉

      Thanks Nida!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to take walks and ride my bike through a path (a short-cut really), with tree-lined manicured lawns. Once in a while, I would encounter people in ‘funny’ clothes walking and talking to themselves. One day, I saw the sign for the psychiatric hospital, which was hidden from view.

      Anyway, when I asked, neighbours told me that although the patients I had encountered had mental health challenges, they posed no danger to the society. I assented mentally but abandoned my short-cut forever!

      Misconceptions, preconceptions . . . perhaps that’s why I wrote a story with me in pale blue! 🙂 Thanks Laboye!

      Like

    1. . . . and when we awake, we’re at the wedding, where everyone is wearing pale blue, and strains from Michael Frank’s St. Elmo Fire, fill the air:

      We get higher and higher
      Crazy blue
      Like St. Elmo’s Fire
      Loves so sharp and flat
      That it’s hard to know just where your at . . . 😉

      Thanks Prissy!

      Like

  5. oh my. This had me on my toes all the way down.

    such a beautiful and interesting piece.

    I’ll keep in mind that the world is full of crazy people, the next time I’m boarding a bus.
    But I’ll also be sure to take the message back home.

    Thank you, for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, on your toes is a good place to be 🙂

      My last bus trip gave me inspiration for this post. The bus driver was driving as if he was crazy and bullying the Toyotas. No one was cheering though, that was my imagination . . . and a weekend of Michael Franks!

      I hope your next bus trip gives you crazy, beautiful, funny, humane stories. Thanks!

      p.s. yes, there’s a message somewhere in this post . . . where is it? 😉

      Like

    1. Really? Then I guess you have plenty stories to tell.

      What if we can’t get out in time? What if we’re already wearing pale blue tops and bottoms and aren’t meant to get out? What if . . . 😉

      @Fiction, I guess I could write a post on: Brain Function and Delusional Activity in Young People, but I figure people would rather read, Bus 281 😉

      Like

  6. I really loved this. I want to say something deep and meaningful about it, but all I can tell you is that I will be thinking about this story for quite some time.

    Like

      1. I agree with you – I let my Music Director to share her critique – Sometime she tough – I can there is a great complex and joint of several stories. This is going to be deeper and deeper. Have you ever tried sharing your stories with your local station?

        Liked by 1 person

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