Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Number 93

The 93 bus roars back to life at the terminus. The new driver watches the old man, full of sorrow, shuffle to his seat.

The old man is Jack; he’s 86 and lost his wife, Brenda, last week. They’d finished their nightly Cocoa, creaked into bed and fell asleep. Brenda never woke up and felt cold and rigid in the morning. Jack can’t find the energy or the will to carry on. He has spent the last three days on the 93, on and off, going around and around and around.

The 93 stops at the parade of shops and the driver certainly notices his next traveller, a beautiful blonde in her thirties, long manicured nails cause a struggle in scooping up her change. She smells of patchouli and has ruby painted lips.

The beautiful blonde is Angela, 36. She’s on the way to her weekly hotel rendezvous with someone else’s husband. This has been going on for three drawn out years. What she once considered to be true love has become sleazy in her mind. She has decided to end it. She can’t endure this shame any longer.

The bus snakes its way onto the suburban avenue and the driver opens the doors to a weeping 15 year old girl; red eyes, clutching a tissue that’s full of holes.

The weeping girl is Grace, the only child of a devoutly religious couple. Grace is 11 weeks pregnant and on her way to the abortion clinic. She feels sick and afraid and wishes she would vanish into thin air; so all this disappears. Someone ought to comfort her but everyone is too sealed in their own private misery to notice.

The 93 stops at the park, alongside the neat identical houses with larger gardens, and on steps a man in his forties. He seems distracted and the driver has to check three times as to where he wishes to go.

The distracted man is Steve who can’t deal with the small trivialities today and sits in the middle of the bus, with his head in his hands. He had a phone call yesterday from the doctor: could he come in, we need to talk about test results? Steve isn’t feeling positive; he suspects he knows the outcome. He can’t ignore the blood as he coughs and coughs and coughs.

All four people, trapped by their lives, are preoccupied with their troubling predicaments. The number 93 hectically weaves in and out of the chaotic morning traffic.

‘Does anyone want to get off the bus?’ shouts the driver.

The passengers consider, eyeing one another for the first time. They feel the speed of the bus and, one by one, shake their heads. No, thank you. They won’t be getting off the bus today. The driver didn’t think they would, but even for Death, it’s always polite to ask. His grip on the steering wheel tightens and he hurtles them all towards oblivion.

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