Clang. Hiss. The doors sweep open with the scraping of plastic and metal, and two girls enter the bus. I don't think they notice the driver. Clang, hiss. Two bulks reunited. The girls walk to the back and sit by a window getting hammered by rain, but they don't seem to notice this either. Don't notice much, those mirror-eyes of theirs. I tap my fingers impatiently; one-two, one, one-two. My hair is being violently blown by the window above me, but I rather like the windswept look so I leave it open.
Clang. Hiss. An old man this time, with grey hair, a grey jacket, black shoes and black trousers. He must look forward to choosing clothes in the morning. In fact, he wouldn't have looked out of place in an old, black and while film. He even speaks like an overpaid wooden actor: "concession please." He sits a couple of seats in front of me and takes off his soaked jacket. From somewhere he pulls out a newspaper - straight from the 50s set, I fancy - and reads about percentages. He's too boring to warrant my attention any longer and I look outside, wiping condensation from the window.
I must have a line of vision lasting at least five metres. Perhaps even six. The rest is lost in a void of moisture. But through the chaos are heads, sometimes joined to bodies, treading away without the vaguest thought to the concrete substance they're standing on. Don't blame them, to be honest; nor would I. But I have to laugh at the concerted effort each face makes to avoid looking ridiculous. Walking alone in plain sight, and they know it. Some keep a straight face - a remarkable feat, it's true - while others puff and pant. Some smile, hoping to catch scathes within the U. Can't really see what there is to smile about on a day like today. Though Boring Grey Man has found something, judging by the rhythmic motion of his shoulders. Like he's trying to swat a fly without using limbs. Good day on the stock market, hey Old Bore?
Oh, God. A pair of jabbering kids sit in front of me. "No, he asked her out before Nadia; Nadia only said yes because of Sasha." "Lawl." Out come the headphones. Clang, hiss, and the bus wakes with a jolt, as if it had dreamt of falling and hit the ground in a messy affair. I rest my head against the window but a mixture of the damp invading my hair and that incessant rattling makes rest impossible. My head feel like a pneumatic drill. It's not a drill, it's a head! Does the bus understand? Course not. Like the rest.
I watch the scenery pass by behind clouds. A view would be lovely... To my right, across the aisle, a girl I know is talking to a boy I know. Or maybe it's flirting; I never could tell the difference. There's a barrier between myself and them, indiscernible but there. So I take a sledgehammer to it.
"Excuse me? Christie?"
Girl looks round.
"Have you done the English homework Mr Anderson wanted?"
She disengages from boy.
"Not yet. I don't get any of it. Have you?"
Back to boy. Laughing. He's tying her hair to the seat in front as she begs for mercy, a grin on her face. I look back out the window at more grey, feeling like an insect in a bird's nest.
I'm distracted by a fly doing the rounds, buzzing back to me. Just visiting. And I think, such an irritating sound may as well replace the school bell. Maybe the bell system is wired up to a torture chamber for bluebottles? It looks so sad, crawling on the window like a frantic child. Our device, this sadistic glass, playing mind games with the fly which its short memory is forced to repeat again and again. It's a modern tragedy. The fly gets bored of me (who can blame it?) and moves on to the girls in front.
"Eugh, a fly!" Bushy Hair exclaims.
"Can you get it?" Bleach-Blond says.
The fist slams against the window and I'm surprised the glass doesn't shatter. Who does she think she is? The Hulk? The fist goes again. Whac-a-Fly. It's too stupid to know any better, flying frantically, crawling on the air for all it knows.
"Got it!" Bushy Hair is so proud.
And she's right. A wing, and perhaps a leg or two, lie useless on the sill as the hysterical fly crawls for dear life. Slam! The fly is replaced by a black lump oozing grey fluids. The girls cheer triumphantly, and I imagine them being squeezed against a steamed-up window, their innards squeezing out. A sixty foot giant with blue hair or something jeering at them, so proud of his catch. Killing because he can. My fists are clenched, shaking in fury. Suddenly I understand how the Holocaust was allowed to happen.
I lie back, ignoring the rattle. I can endure it for a retreat, for an escape... a brief respite...
I don't feel the hand as it pulls the Ipod from my pocket.
© Copyright 2017 Mathew Nicolson. All rights reserved.
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