A WordPress suggested topic during the week was “What’s the Strangest Thing That’s Ever Happened to You on a Bus?”……
It was cold that morning on the bus, colder than my ex-wife’s heart. The five or six saps stuck with catching that first bus, one so early that it might as well have been last night’s last bus, sat hunched with their collars pulled right up, and their hats pulled right down.
We came to a bus-stop, a hand as slender and pretty as the neck of a swan was held out, so the bus came to a halt. The doors opened and in wafted a perfume like I’d never smelled before, beautiful yet somehow deadly, like an angel’s fart. Along with it wafted in one of the most lovely broads I’d ever seen. She had hair as black as night, eyes as blue as sapphires and lips as red as lipstick.
She spoke softly to me, in a voice as sweet as the honey that you pour onto a lover and then… er, well, anyway, she’d a lovely voice. “Take me to Dublin,” she said.
“Sure, lady,” I said, “but it‘s gonna cost.”
“How much?” she asked.
“Two euro sixty cent,” I said. “That’s the standard fare.”
She took out her purse and fished out the money. I noticed a driver’s licence in the purse. “How come you don’t just drive?”
She looked down at the purse, then quickly up at me. “You a detective?”
“Nope,” I said. “Sam Spade, bus driver.”
“I’m Lola,” she said. I wasn’t surprised, dames like that never have names like Ann or Margret, except when they’re Ann-Margret.
“And what do you do, Lola?” I asked. “Some kinda Government job?”
“You could say that,” she said. I’d hadn‘t really had to ask, she had “spy” written all over her in letters as big as my overdraft. “I work for the Post Office,” she continued.
“Sure ya do, doll,” I said, and winked. This seemed to confuse her, perhaps she’d thought no-one would ever see through her cover. Suddenly she stared straight ahead, her eyes widened and then she said those three little words that everyone in my line of work dreams of hearing one day.
“Follow that bus!” she ordered.
I didn’t have to be told twice. I floored the pedal and the bus shot forward faster than a snot from an unexpected sneeze, so fast that three of the schmucks sitting at the back fell off their seats.
“So level with me, Lola,” I said. “Why are we following this bus?”
“Because it’s driving on the right side of the road, and you weren’t,” she snapped. I gotta admit this was true, I hadn’t really been watching the road, I’d been giving her the eye and a man’s only got two eyes, though that excuse doesn’t look as good written down as it did in my head.
She gave me one last look as smouldering as the fires of hell then walked away down the bus. Guess I’d blown it by letting her know I knew the Post Office story was as fake as the tan on a chick in a nightclub. I heard her clomp upstairs on heels as high as, well, an elephant’s eye, since it’s harder to keep thinking up these metaphors than you’d think.
I don’t know what goes on up there. I’ve heard people snooze up there, I’ve heard people talk non-stop on their bloody mobiles, I’ve heard guys get out tiny netbooks and write stuff called a blog, probably really sending secrets to their bosses in Commieland.
It might all be true, I’ve never been up there, I’m not allowed leave my seat for any reason. As my bosses keep telling me, my bus don’t drive itself, or wouldn’t have if I hadn’t nipped into O’Toole’s Store that time to buy cigarettes and forgot to put the handbrake on. My bosses had to pay for all the damage I did to Fagan’s Bar, the one our ex-political boss, Bertie “Dig-out” Ahern, drinks in.
Of all the gin-joints, in all the towns, in all the world, I had to run into that one.