Short stories

I refute the accusation

this is a dream I think stepping on the bus leaving behind the city fug and futility and I could cry being so fatigued being so I fumble for my bus fare – count a few coins and flick through a few notes – on the bus, which I believe will take me home, I say “one way” and hand the bus driver a crisp note and coins slip through my trembling – I am so sleepy! – fingers and I count the coins on the ground and decide they are not worth the effort to drop to one knee Knight-style and collect so I take my ticket and as the bus rolls forward I tiptoe the aisle circumnavigating cursive limbs limp with lethargy and on an empty seat flop down exhausted and sleepy. Caught between not Tweedledum and Tweedle-dee or Charybdis and Scylla but Hypnagogia and Hypnopompia or maybe the thumb and the forefinger like a flea but not left and right inner thigh – just my luck! – I compose myself. I am slowly ossifying with the bus seat the hard graffiti’d seat osmosis with the bus seat “You dropped some money” says a blur above me behind me looming over me and I remove the work satchel from my body and place it next to me “nice bag man” says the blur but my head is too heavy heave I huff and my eyes refuse to corporate “it’s a satchel” I want to cry cry into my soft pillow where I am hermetically sealed and the air within is as dry as the Sahara and where it is Mediterranean hot and huuuuuumms with liquid undulations of amnionic beauty and I drown in penises and vaginas and as these mellifluous thoughts coalesce with numerous thighs I have known over the years or wish I had known I open the satchel and take out the case that protects the headphones and find my telephone and search for music that I know will carry me safely home within this chimera but before I am able to open the case I realize by the buildings outside moving faster in the opposite direction that I am on the wrong side of uptown or downtown – I can’t remember! – on the wrong bus and heading in the wrong direction.

“Stop the bus” and I grab the telephone and the satchel and I run to the head (head? (Hydra?)) of the bus shouting “please stop the bus” and the blur behind me says “he needs to get off.”

A huge sigh of relief reverberates and I drop the telephone into the satchel and throw the satchel over my shoulder and the rain/sleet/snow amalgamates and tortures my – naked?!?! – body. Shivering and guilty I button and turn up the collars of my jacket. A spark mushrooms.

I left my headphones on the bus on the seat between Hansel and Gretel between Abelard and Heloise between Bonnie and Clyde. I leg it (English Slang?) after the bus slipping in-between the trains of traffic.

I catch the bus at a traffic light – red! – always RED! – and pound on the bus door and the bus driver a dour man looks puzzled but recognizes me  yes I am that man the poor devil plagued by fatigue and lack of sleep and suffering through having to work twelve hours a day and I have not slept in nights which I do not blame myself for but the world we have created for the benefit of some a small some and the rest of us slave for what –


I am ranting! I need to sleep.

So yes, I am going to chase down a bus and cause pandemonium and abuse a bus door and demand that the bus door opens, which they do.

“I am so sorry” I say “but I’ve left my headphones on the bus and they are expensive” “it’s him” says a rough hirsute man sitting elevated on the seat behind the one I left my headphones “hurry up” says the bus driver and so I run up the aisle brushing aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy “come on” says an old lady with a corrugated face “I have an hour’s journey on this bus and you have stopped it twice already” and before I am able to apologize I see that my headphones are missing “where are my headphones” I say to the rough hirsute man sitting elevated on the seat behind the one I left my headphones on and he says in response “why are you bothering me I don’t know you” and I say “I know you you have them you are a thief” “I haven’t got your headphones and now he wants to fight me” and though I am irate I am not pugnacious and though I have in the past been guilty of being bellicose and punching bullies I am not being bellicose now I am too puckered out to throw a punch to aim a phoot “leave him alone” says the man across the aisle “I will not” I say “you will” says a man behind me “and if you don’t get off the bus and allow us to finish this journey I will beat you black and blue” “right” I say and I run down the aisle of the bus brushing aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy and I say to the bus driver a dour man “stop this bus I am calling the police” and the bus driver says “I can’t stop the bus look we are on a busy road” to this I say “right I am calling the police.”

“I do not have his headphones!” The bus transitions. A beautiful – naked, breasts soft and bountiful – woman says “Come to me. I need you.” The passengers watch. “I will come up there,” I say, “and you will fight me knowing I am drained and spent beyond human possibility.” This response has the whole bus laughing and jeering and mocking which exacerbates my rage and I hold up my telephone and run up the aisle of the bus kicking aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy and take a photograph of the outré hairy man dressed in a paisley neon shirt open to the breast and a vomit of velvet cravat spilling vivaciously “you can’t do that” he says “that’s taking liberties.” “I agree” says the corrugated old lady “even Hitler’s SS would not have done that.” Hands grab. “Throw him off the bus” says the man across the aisle. Hair is pulled. The bus stops abruptly. The bus driver grabs me by the arm but I fight him off punching and kicking and swinging my satchel but a fist connects with my chin and a punch blinds me and a number of boots to my rump march me to the door of the bus and I am unceremoniously ejected from the bus. Bloodied and bruised I weep softly as the bus slowly rolls by and I see my headphones planted upon the grinning head of the young man. 

Paul Kavanagh           

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