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  • Spike Potter

Tangents


An old man stood at a covered bus stop. It was raining.


“Brmmmmm .... Dzoommm .... Pshhhh ....,” he said quietly to himself.


A young woman walked up the street. She was slim with a pretty face and long brown hair - about twenty-one. She stopped when she reached the bus stop and sheltered herself from the rain. The old man looked at her. She looked at him. They exchanged salutary smiles, the barest of salutary nods and then looked away from each other, into the distances - each into their respective distance that is, for there are an innumerable quantity of distances that permeate from any given point in the universe.


“Bggghhh .... Vroommm ...” said the old man. The young woman looked at him. He smiled politely; so did she. They stood in silence.


“Vroommm .... Pshhh ....” said the old man. The young woman didn't look at him this time. He didn't look at her. They didn't exchange polite smiles.


A red double-decker bus rolled up. Three people got off and went their separate ways. The old man got on. The bus drove away. The rain abated slightly. A young boy walked down the street escorted by a middle-aged woman. They both halted at the bus stop and the little boy referred to the woman as 'Mummy'. The boy looked at the young woman apprehensively. She smiled; as did he. The middle-aged woman saw him smile and she smiled too.


"How long will the bus be, Mummy?” asked the boy.


“That question presents an opportunity for sarcasm,” thought the young woman. She said nothing.


“Only about two or three minutes,” said the middle-aged woman.


“May I play with my planes?” he asked.


“Here you are,” replied the middle-aged woman, reaching into her bag and handing the boy two model planes.


“Thanks,” said the boy enthusiastically. He began to play, employing the following method: with a plane in each hand he moved them through the air, as if to convey the illusion that one was pursuing the other, turning and contorting his body and arms as he did so. He made machine gun sounds as well; but they are difficult to commit to writing.


“It keeps him good,” said the middle-aged woman to the young woman quasi-apologetically, noticing her observation of the boy and apparently wishing to offer an explanation for his actions. The young woman smiled.


“I love playing with planes myself,” she said cheerfully. The middle-aged woman's mouth dropped open; she appeared entirely dumbfounded.


“It's all right,” said the young woman, “it must be difficult to think of an appropriate response to a statement like that from someone my age.” The middle aged woman smiled forcedly and nodded while placing an arm around the boy's shoulder.


“Here comes the bus, Son,” she said eyeing the young woman curiously. A red double-decker bus rolled up and stopped. Three people got off and went their separate ways. The middle-aged woman and the boy got on. The bus drove away.


It started to rain harder. The tinny resonance of each rain drop pelting on the shelter's roof filled the air. A young man ran down the street in a blue woollen overcoat. The collar was turned up and he had his hands thrust tightly into his pockets. He reached the bus stop, slowed down and stopped. He shivered as he removed his hands from the pockets of his overcoat, and then reached up and shook the collar of his coat, which was wet. He grimaced very slightly as he looked up at the dark, grey sky. The young woman glanced over at him. He glanced at her. She smiled politely. He smiled back politely.


“Terrible weather,” he remarked.


“Mmm,” nodded the young woman. The man looked at his watch.


“What time do you make it?” he asked.


“That question could be answered in a different way to the one intended,” thought the young woman. “Three, Thirty-three,” she replied, having looked at her own watch.


“They never run on time, do they?” asked the man rhetorically. The young woman made no response other than to smile very broadly. The man appeared somewhat confused, but smiled back nonetheless, though only briefly. He looked away, down the street, then back at his wrist watch, almost nervously.


“He doesn't smoke,” thought the young woman.


“This is the right stop for the number sixty-three?” asked the man.


“Yes,” said the young woman very definitely, “that's my bus.”


“Is it always late?” asked the man.


“Not always… but more often than not.” The man returned his gaze to the street, glancing quickly at the young woman's legs as he did so. She noticed and smiled again, but only to herself.


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