Well, I’m waiting at the bus stop in downtown Saltdean. Yeah, I’m sitting next to Luvlady waiting for the bus. But I’d much rather be on a sofa in her lounge. It’d be lounging there, it’s perching here. Our bums hooked over a garish red plastic sill. We’re like two ciggies hanging from a floosie’s lips. Hey, that’s sharp. Because I’m sharp. Well I’m sitting here thinking just how sharp I am.
A silver car glides into the yellow box of the bus stop and rolls to the end. You’re still in the bus stop, moron. There’s a gap two cars long down the street, you myopic moron. That would be too far to walk, you mindless myopic moron. I’m sitting here thinking just how irritated I am. No one would know it from the outside.
The car reverses up the hill from the open pavement to stop right smack in front of the bus shelter, the raised access kerb, Luvlady, me. I’m sitting here ablaze at the inconsideration for all but the self. Well, fuming. Well, I’m sitting here smouldering discontent.
The driver switches off the engine. His beige clothes match the pallid complexion across his peanut face and over his bald crown. This is a seaside town, you prat; you should get out of your metal box more. He’s looking about his car. Probably for a shopping list of one item. He probably porks his wife the way he parks his car.
Now his eyes are fixedly forward because he’s just seen Luvlady and me sitting at the bus stop, sitting waiting for the bus, the bus that can’t get into the bus stop. This driver with pin-head tunnel vision begins closing the driver’s window.
I’m aware that Luvlady is preparing her onslaught. I need to act. In my sweetest not-being-aggressive voice I ask: ‘You do realise this is a bus stop, do you?’
‘Course I fucking know.’ Recessed eyes look at me. I hold my benign-but-resolute gaze. He quickly looks away as if I might have the attributes of Medusa. Ah-ha, think I (because I’m sharp) he knows what he shouldn’t be doing and wished he didn’t know. Better if he wished he hadn’t done what he knows he shouldn’t do. Creaking out of his car, gynaecomastia1 first, pumpkin-belly unfolding after, he makes an attempt to regain some moral ascendancy by questioning the mode of my interlocution. ‘What sort of a fucking question is that?’
‘It’s called a rhetorical question,’ I reply, in my helpful-and-informative voice. I wait for the slow drip-feed of information into his pumpkin-seed brain. ‘The bus is due imminently,’ I add, now suspecting information transmission is by osmosis into his single cell organism. ‘That is why we are sitting here. Sitting at this bus stop,’ I say with my explain-all-but-keep-it-simple voice.
‘Mister Fucking Clever, are you?’ I happily take that as his essay into the rhetorical. ‘Think I’m thick?’ he adds. Some people can overdo the rhetorical.
‘From your recent action of parking your vehicle on a bus stop, adjacent to the shelter and by the raised kerb, in answer to your question —’
I am addressing the man’s receding back. My reply has been so encompassing as to exceed his attention span, and he has forgotten he asked a question, never mind what it was. He is loping towards the booze / ciggies / tabloids / saturated-fats-in-a-bag shop that is his pilgrimage this Sunday afternoon. It is a just-about achievable distance for him by foot from his vehicle although, to be fair, the pavement is six flags wide. I predict to Luvlady (because I’m really sharp) that he won’t be able to drive away without making a snide comment at us.
The man swings his fresh non-recyclable plastic bag of purchases into his car after passing by us with neither acknowledgement nor address. Safe within his saloon of silver armour he glares straight at us and snarls while pulling away, ‘Have a nice fucking day’.
His emergency stop is impressive. The saloon halts half a metre short of the Number 57. The car’s rear wheels are still within the yellow rectangle painted on the road. The bus driver’s command of vernacular rhetoric is the most impressive I have heard today.
Luvlady and I grin silently to each other. I’m sitting here thinking just how sharp I am. Hang on, that’s our bus down there. Oh-oh, it’s pulling out into the road round the stalled car.
NB The rhythm for the opening and the sentiment are from Rolling Stones song ‘The Under-Assistant West Coast Promo Man’.
1) gynaecomastia = man-boobs. I came across the word recently and I’ll forget it if I don’t use it.