Monday, 3 October 2011

On the Buses

Have you travelled by public transport recently? It's a great place to collect characters for short stories and novels.

I have written elsewhere about some of the extraordinary and eccentric people I have encountered and a recent sighting inspired me to continue the series.

Imagine two Neanderthals bumping into each other at the bus stop. A conversation starts; they know each other, as is made apparent by their foul banter. I'll edit out the offending words or this post will be at least three times the length it should be. Just take my word for it that every second word was one which would shame polite company. With those considerations, here's a fairly accurate reproduction of the encounter:

N1: 'What are you up to?'

N2: 'Well I've just been in that shop to nick some stuff and they were all looking at me, but I still got away with these cans of Extra Strong.' He pulled the ring from one of the two cans and proceeded to drink noisily. (Note: this was at 3.00 p.m. in the afternoon)

N1: 'Good one!'

As the sunlight picked out the detail of the tattoos on N2's neck, he suddenly seemed to remember something.

N2: 'Anyway - have a look at this!' As he said it, he unzipped one of the pockets on his tracksuit jacket. An enormous rat emerged and started clambering up his arm.

N1: 'Wow! Is it a wild one?'

N2: 'Don't be daft! As if I'd keep a wild rat in my pocket! No, it's my pet. It lives in my pocket...'

The bus approached the stop. N2 started shouting at his pet.

N2: 'Get in that pocket, you! Get in that pocket - quick! Here comes the bus!'

The rat wasn't particularly obedient. It was so big that it was hard to see how it managed to fit into the pocket in the first place. N2 boarded the bus and offered his fare. In one hand he had his can of Extra Strong and in the other was his ferocious looking pet.

Bus Driver: 'Sorry mate, you can't get on with that,' he calmly said.

N2: 'Eh? But it's my pet. It lives in my pocket. It won't be any trouble. If people are scared of him I'll stuff him back in my pocket.'

Bus Driver: 'I don't mean the rat - I mean the beer!'

N2: 'Aw, come on mate...I've just got my beer and I've got my rat, what's wrong with that, like?'

However, the bus driver would not be swayed, even by such an outwardly convincing statement.

Bus Driver: 'Look, why not just stand and finish your beer and get on the next bus?'

N2 then got off the bus, presumably to follow the driver's instructions. But perhaps it wasn't so simple after all, as he had a second can of Extra Strong at the ready...

Expect more episodes from 'On the Buses' soon. In fact, if you wait long enough, two might come along at once...

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