Do something else. Do anything else! On a bus that has just, for a moment, followed the same path you did the last time I saw you-when was that?- possibly the same, except your seat is taken by a salt and peppered hair guy.
I have been doing other things. Loads of things. So many things I haven’t done the things I was meant to be doing. Pub, sofa, lunch, work, bar, work, casino, work, Christmas Eve dinner.
So why can’t I stop? Stop what? I haven’t been doing anything, keeping busy instead. I know there’s a lot of pressure on all sides and me feeling this way can only add to it. But I haven’t got that smell out of my hair. The one which makes me forget about whatever else I was thinking about, yet not quite catching what the smell made me think about. It’s just a smell that gets me zoned. Neither good or bad, yeah, pleasant though. Real nice.
I don’t know what’s been going on enough to write about.
A girl at the casino yesterday. Behind us on an empty poker table. She was quite excited. Assume she’s on the phone as there is no other voice. A guy was being weird-
“So weird! He had a crazy look on his face and was trying to invite me back to his place. I don’t know where. He was following me for so long and I-”
He’d grabbed her and something else. At this point I get annoyed at the way people gratuitously play with their poker chips to the point where I start to wonder if they have OCD. And they
Click, ching, click, chiling, click.
So I try to tune in again. She’s now talking about Christmas. It sounds like she’s talking to a sister. The phone gets passed over and she started longing out her syllables, making her voice high pitched and saying:
“Woooow that’s amaaaaazing. Isn’t that amaaazing?” making it sound really un-amazing, so I had to assume she was talking to a child. I hoped they were 2 because any older and I bet whoever they were, they were clenching a fist in awkward hatred.
Shock and alarm heard by gasps and little hoots. She asks what happened.
“And what did you do?” She sighs out a word, good-
“Good!” She gets excited, “That’s really really good!” I can’t tell anything about this child. She gives advice.
“Anytime a bully attacks you,” a lot of mmming and ahhing,
“Yes, if a bully hits you first, then you kick him as hard as you can in the balls!”
I flick my head up, losing track of the poker. She’s shuffling around in her seat.
“Yeah every time, you just go for their balls.”
Apart from the fact that I know males are very protective of their warm spots, you get taught in girls Sex Ed to not ever go for the groin as he expects it, so instead aim for his eyes, probably both bad pieces of advice to give a child though. I felt a bit sorry for the future kids that would terrorise this one, I wonder how many men end up not having kids due to childhood trauma.
Fun fact: friend told me that if you smoke, spitting in their eyes will sting ‘em right and good. I also thought whoever this child is, hopefully they learn self defence and to ignore this hysterical woman.
All of a sudden the police were at the bar. She went over and I heard her speak again before I suddenly felt weird for eavesdropping. Also D kept staring and I had to nudge him, the police weren’t there for us, stop being so bait.
Later, I zoned back in accidentally. Was probably the smell in my hair. The police were talking in quiet tones.
“Call 999 for emergencies,” I imagined one putting his arm on her shoulder in this pause, almost to interrupt her thoughts, “yeah, this was an emergency but there’s also 112 for local police…”- I zoned out again, someone said something with I caught the last part of and I giggled.
Anyway that’s all for that, not much of a story. Don’t think there are any more stories. There was that time,
So I was at a bus stop on a really quiet road, I couldn’t tell you where. I missed the stop I was supposed to get off on a route I didn’t know. There’s a guy sitting at the bus stop already and a man walking up behind me with an old hat and coat on, walking tall with shoulders pushed out and saying something I couldn’t hear and didn’t mind not hearing. I ignored him and concentrated on what route to take. There was a loud and sudden sound and I swivelled slowly to look at it while the guy sitting down jumped to his feet and then walked around the bus stop, into the road, as far as he could get from the man making this noise. The man had lifted the outer housing off of a street bin and was now reaching for the light blue inner casing so he could take the trash out to ground level. He mumbled something more as he threw all of it into the street.
I turned back to the bus stop and mouthed the words, “no conversation, please not a conversation, not today, not today.” I decided to distract myself and just look at road names and imagine myself in real time walking down them and what might be in them and something to do with colours and thinking about purple when, I realised it was really quiet. I slowly turned around to look towards the bin, then spun around again but faster.
No one. He was gone. There was a moment when I first turned to look and didn’t see him, that I was instantly sure that he was right in my blind spot and would start maniacally scream-laughing in my face. He wasn’t. So I checked my watch and leaned against the bus stop and without trying successfully cleared my brain and thought of… nothing. Nothing except: Black road, black cos it’s like tar, it’s also dark anyway, dark. Black. absence of
I jumped and instead of continuing to feel chilly was instantly a bit warm and moist on the skin. I glanced to my right and checked the bus stop guy. He was now leaning against the bus stop closer to me but facing away. He hadn’t jumped, this time.
I turned to the left, this all happened under 3 seconds. The man had come back, he glared at me and his fists were in the air. I didn’t think much of this at the time but it seemed now as if he was facing up to me for a fight.
“WHY are you out at midnight on Christmas?”
Oh yeah, this happened last night, just after I’d left the casino, actually. My heart starts beating fast, not necessarily fear.
“I’m trying to get home.”
He walks towards me as I say this and stops. My heart jumps. I never think about what I say or write, I just do it as it comes in the brain, I don’t know if he could take some sort of offence at anything I’ve said, or the tone, or the fact I replied. Also, where did he come from? My brain screams it and I’m not sure if I mouth it.
For a split second he looks as though he’s thinking about what I said, his face momentarily, and for the only time I ever looked at it, seems calm. Then he exaggeratedly shrugs his shoulders, throws his hands in the air and shouts full force into my face,
“Then GO HOME.”
I glance at the bus stop guy, still leaning, having taken some of the scream in his own face, although unnoticed. I wonder what the hell he thought. Because I didn’t think anything. What did I think?
I thought: Why was he so angry when he looked at me? I could feel his anger being passed through our eyes and settling in my head. Why did part of me think he was going to throw a punch at me?
I thought: I’m. So. Angry, I wish strange men would stop screaming at me in the street like this. I remembered the man who threatened to stab me at Old Street because of the way I stood and the way my hands shook on the bus after clenching them so hard. I withheld from shouting back at this guy to mind his own business because last time I ran my mouth off, the other guy walked back.
I thought: I wish I could rewind. And if I could, I wouldn’t bother getting out of bed.
I thought: I just don’t know.
I thought about how much I didn’t know on the bus and when I got home, slept soundly, for the first time in a long while.
I washed my hair 2 days later.