He shouldn’t have come to the stop early. Libby always came around the same time – just a few minutes before his usual bus was due. Sometimes they barely had time to say hello and he left her sitting in the stop, usually finishing her smoke. Then there were days when the bus was late and they had a chat and a bit of a laugh. So, all he had done by coming early today was to give himself longer to wait. He earned some odd looks from other people who clambered aboard the early number three while he stared at his phone and tried to look as though he had everything under control.
She had to come, she just had to. It was by no means an everyday occurrence, and he had no idea as what were the deciding factors. Certainly not the weather, no matter if it was raining or sunny or blowing a hoolie she might turn up. She was always dressed in her ankle boots, thick black tights, a short skirt and the leather jacket. Now and again she would have a scarf wound round her neck, or her head or just wherever she had decided to put a bit of colour but that seemed random and unplanned.
His leg jigged up and down and he shuffled and shrugged his shoulders. Please come, please please come. And there she was.
“Hiya.” She swung round the end of the shelter and flopped onto the little yellow seat. “How are ya?”
“I’m fine, yeah – good thanks. You?”
“Oh yeah. So wassup?”
“How do you mean. Nothing, no it’s fine. Why should there be anything wrong?”
“Hey chill. I just meant – well you know – what are you doing – how are things going?”
“Oh yeah, right – ‘course. Fine, things are fine.”
“It doesn’t look like it – you’re well hyper.”
“No, no I’m not.”
“So what’s with the piston leg thing then?”
He glanced down, pressed a hand on his knee. She lit up her joint. “Do you have to do that?”
“Well that. Don’t you worry?”
“Yes, you know worry that it might affect you. Make you – oh I don’t know, unreliable?”
She spurted with laughter. “This?” She waved the skinny spliff in front of him. “This isn’t going to make me anything. It has less effect than a couple of glasses of booze. Don’t be a moron.”
“Well it’s just that every time I see you – here, you’re smoking.”
“Yeah well it’s my morning treat isn’t it. Anyway I guess it’s none of your business Mr Moody.”
“No, no of course it’s not – I’m sorry. I’m a bit uptight – you’re right.”
She peered at him. “You know this is nothing, it’s barely a drug. If you want something that’s really gonna have an impact you want something more than this weed.”
“Oh, I don’t want anything.”
“No, I know duh brain – all I’m saying is, this is nothing. I can tell you about stuff that would really give you a reason to worry. Stuff to get you high, stuff to bring you down and stuff to get you so fried you don’t know whether you’re here or hanging from a kite on Jupiter. Have you never done stuff?”
“Well, yes of course I have. I’ve smoked now and again, done some tabs at clubs but I don’t like it. I don’t like the loss of control.”
“Ha, sometimes it’s not about the loss of control.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh nothing – look things are getting heavy. Let’s leave it. I smoke; it’s not your problem.”
“Yes, you’re right. Sorry.” She shrugged and inhaled deeply.
This wasn’t the way he expected the morning to go and it wasn’t helping him.
“Look, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“Oh right – well looks like it’ll have to wait. Here comes your bus.” With a quick grin and a wave of her hand she pushed up from the seat and crossed the road. She didn’t look back and he wasn’t sure whether they were at odds or not. He needed her on his side. If there was even the slightest chance that she could help him she really had to be on his side.
Someone came just after I woke. I have no sense of time but I think it is morning. It’s dark with the drapes closed and now that my sight is dim it is hard to tell whether or not I know them. It could be the same one each time but I‘m not sure.
This one was as always, quick and rough and silent. There was no conversation. They cleared away the mess from the night, the stench is less when that has gone but always there is an air of decay and despair. I wish I could be sure, sure where I am. Sometimes I think I know but then so many things confuse me and it seems impossible. I don’t know how long it has been like this or when it changed. I know that my life was other, I remember things that happened so long ago but they sadden me and I can’t bear it. But I don’t remember how I came to this.
I feel so very alone. Where have they gone the people who loved me?
They brought a tray with toast and tea and while I sat and ate they changed the sheets. It is bliss. I am thankful for such small, small things. Soon after they had gone my head began to spin and I have been woozy ever since but at least I am lying on a clean sheet. I am so weak. I would try to move about just a little but when I stand the room tilts and tips and nausea threatens. Best to sleep.