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My Tarry Friend
by Lily Murphy

It wasn't raining and I suppose that was a good thing but there was a cold bite in the air as I waited at the bus stop for my friend to arrive.

Saturday was our traditional day for going to town and the bus stop was our usual meeting place where we would board the bus to embark on our trip.

There was no bench at the bus stop because it had been pulled out and dispensed over the bridge and into the river by a gang of hoodlums a few nights before so sitting to wait for both the bus and my friend to arrive would not be an option at the bus stop anymore. There was also a strange smell of shit about the place and believe me it’s not a very nice smell to have wafting up the nose on a pleasant Saturday afternoon.

I had arrived at the bus stop at exactly two o'clock, the time both my friend and I had agreed to meet up at, and so there I stood at the bus stop and began the waiting game.

An elderly gentleman came along clad in a bizarre attire of mixed colours. This gentleman wore purple shoes and over his brilliant blue shirt he wore a radiant red t-shirt with a bright tie of all the colours of the rainbow dotted on it.

I thought this individual would be one with a rainbow personality without a doubt and he came towards me in all his strangeness.

‘Lovely morning isn't it!?!?’ he both asked and stated to me and I nodded in agreement even though it was two o'clock in the afternoon but I thought to myself it would be better to agree with an insane man rather than disagree with him and possibly end up on his bad side which once happened to me when I disagreed with an elderly lady shopper who one day asked me in the shop where the wireless sets can be found. I informed her that we call them radios these days but for my big mouth I got a whip of her handbag across it.

The old man shuffled around for a bit on the footpath and then approached me again. “Lovely evening isn't it!?!?!” and again I agreed that it was!

I looked at the watch on my hand, ten past two, where was my friend? The one who suggested that a meeting at the bus stop should take place at two o' clock precisely. Then the bus came.

The old man in all his craziness came over to where I was standing and stood uncomfortably too close to me. “Lovely night isn't it!?!?” he whispered and before I could answer him the bus had pulled up right next to us and the door opened.

 A gruff looking bus driver wearing a massive moustache glared out. “Are you two getting on the bus or what?” he barked out.

“No” I meekly stated while the old man made his way onto the bus where I heard him say something about a lovely afternoon to the bus driver.

The bus pulled off in the direction of town leaving me there to wait for my friend and the next bus.

I wasn't waiting long before I was joined not by my friend but by a woman and a child in a stroller. The woman was a young mother and the child was a little on the obese side of things. She glanced in my direction and I glanced back. She gave one of those polite smiles strangers give and I duly gave one back. I was hoping that she would not start up a conversation with me as I have nothing in common with a young mother and child but I had no need to worry as the child and mother both suddenly erupted in a volcanic explosion of anger.

The child had been pestering his mother for sweets or toys or whatever a toddler pesters his mother for, but as he began an ear piercing whine the mother retaliated with an even louder one.

Then a scolding of the highest proportions took place within feet of where I was standing and the awkwardness I felt right there almost smothered me.

“Shut up, shut up you little brat!!!” the mother screamed at the child.

The child with his big bulging red head squalled back “uck you!! uck you!!”

His mother then went on to use every profanity available to scold him with and did so in a high pitched voice which was punishing the air around her.

I began to sweat and I don't know why but I did. Maybe it was the type of situation I had found myself in which was for me anyway a rather uncomfortable one.

The woman with the child stormed back up the road in a vicious speed, back home I presume, but as she departed, two elderly ladies came along and stood at the bus stop. I felt somewhat safer with them but I had to remind myself that I did have my run ins with elderly folk before.

The two old women were already deep in conversation when they arrived to take up their waiting positions at the bus stop. Their talk was one which was focused on the youth of the day, their style of dress and lack of manners. One of the women, one with a mop of grey hair on her ancient head said to the other one, with a head full of badly dyed pink hair, “Did you know that Mrs Morkan's grandson went and got an ear ring?….…in his ear!!!”

The lady with the badly coloured hair gasped in horror “Why did he do that!? Oh poor Mrs Morkan must be ashamed to have a grandson who has his ear pierced!”

The grey haired old lady who wore a knitted scarf around her scrawny neck and the darkest kind of red lipstick on her lips nodded her little head before answering back, “Well Mrs Morkan informed me that her grandson got the idea to pierce his ear when he went to a concert, oh, some rapper fellow from America, and he was sporting an ear ring in his ear and Mrs Morkan's grandson decided to get his ear pierced just like that rapper singer fellow.”

I could not but crack a grin on my face as I thought to myself that Mrs Morkan, whoever she is, should be lucky that it wasn't a Lady Gaga concert her grandson went to!

The two old women nattered on and then the next bus arrived and I was still waiting for my friend.

The bus pulled up and the two old ladies boarded it in a dainty fashion.

“You getting on?” the bus man asked me, “no” I answered.

He was less gruffer than the last bus driver but still had a discourteoustone in his voice. “Another delinquent hanging around bus stops” the old woman with the dyed hair said to the woman with the natural grey hair and while throwing a look of disgust in my direction she and her friend made for the seats at the front of the bus.

The doors closed, the engine revved and the bus left for town leaving a cloud of smog for me to choke on. That was two buses I had missed and I was starting to feel irritated. I had sent numerous text messages to my friend and even rang twice but the replies all came back the same, “I will be there in five minutes” and “I will be there soon just hold tight.”

A very loved up couple arrived at the bus stop next. He had his arm draped over her shoulders while she planted little kisses on his cheeks every now and then. I felt kind of embarrassed as the couple carried on the way young lovers do, a mere two feet away from me, but my embarrassment would be enlightened by the awkwardness which was to follow.

I didn't know how it began because I was too occupied with trying not to take notice of the young couple but they suddenly broke out into an almighty altercation. Words were said and before I knew it, she screamed, he howled, and I was still stuck at the bus stop waiting for my friend.

She accused him of something I don't quite know what, while he called her “ hysterical bitch”. Whatever had happened between those two it had resulted in a fight which made the troubles in the middle east look like a tea party.

In the meantime a dishevelled looking character arrived at the bus stop. A middle aged man dressed in a white dirty stained bathrobe with fluffy pink slippers on his feet. He was mumbling something to himself about rabbits and acorns and I immediately knew that this fellow was off his mental reservation.

He paced up and down in front of me while the young lovers were fighting like crazy next to me. The irregular looking man then approached me and asked had I seen his bag of shit. I said no and then he ran off shouting that he wouldn’t be caught dead boarding a peasant wagon while pointing at the bus coming down the road.

The young lovers were now in a state of fisticuffs as she took a swing for his face with her hand but he stopped her by grabbing her hand and massive beads of sweat began to form on my brow.

I looked down the road to see the mysterious man liberate himself of his bathrobe and walk down the middle of the road wearing nothing but a suit of snow white skin and fluffy pink slippers. I then looked up the road and saw the young lovers taking off, him ducking every time she tried hitting him with a swing of her handbag and she had a tongue which could have cut down a tree, it was that sharp.

Then the bus came.

The third bus since I had been standing there pulled up right at my feet and the doors swung open.

“Are you getting on?” asked the bus man, the third one to ask me the same question that day.

“No” I sighed “I am going back home” and as I turned around to make my way back up the road I stepped into a plastic bag full of shit.