Maybe dead. But that question got sidelined just then as one of my rages kicked in. Useful, in my profession, my little rages: focusing the mind for getting the story, and getting what I want. And I wanted to focus on the rain-running windshield of the bus. But no driver behind the glass to berate.
However, then. Then. Spying bus-driver blue, that robin’s egg blue of bus-driver shirt, like a thing obsessed I shouldered through the murmuring crowd that simply would not clear out of my way, rounded the curbside bumper, and ready even to stand aside the policeman nodding his head at whatever the driver was saying.
“He wasn’t driving, y’know.”
I spun around.
Worn-out brown leather bomber. Worn-out blue jeans. Dirty sneakers. Unshaven. Like some guy I would never sit beside on a bus.
“Stopped for his coffee. Left his bus running. Only gone for a sec. Done the same every day for two years. Spotless driving record.”
“You saying I’ve been hit by a runaway bus?! – That it?! – And so no one’s responsible? –“
“Someone is, but what’s the point? – So let’s get a move on -"
“WHAT’S THE POINT?”
“Ohhhh, yeah right, you don’t know it yet – that you’re dead.”
“Now the denial –Yada yada. Look, girlie, that’s you there, lying like a broken doll under the front end of the ten-fifteen cross-town. Nice outfit, by the way.”
“It’s new. Was new – That what I’m supposed t’say?”
“Makes a refreshing change from the usual, I can tell ya. Admitting it. Now just get on the bus –“
“Why would I EVER get on this bus? – And I’m admitting nothing!”
Also, I saw even more not right under that bus: “And where’s my other shoe?”
“Shoes are always first to go. Never watch six o’clock news? Anyway, won’t need shoes where you’re going. No more walking. Or getting soaked in the rain.”
Wailing like a banshee, an approaching ambulance. The crowd already dispersing through the steady rain. And, with that sudden shock, noticing not one raindrop striking me. Nor him, grinning at me.
But him. The suit talking very slowly on his cel phone. And soaked through. And staring at the bus.
“Yeah, that’s him. He was driving – No, hang on!”
Rushing directly for him, just the same as I might go for his throat, what he was saying into his phone stopped me – No, no pun – simply stopped me inches from his wet face.
“... No, nobody saw me…She’s dead, alright... Five thousand was the deal…”
Behind me, he chortled, “Five thousand! – Y’think you’d be worth at least ten!”
Then the suit stalked away through the rain. I tailed him.
“Aw, girlie, cummon! Not the first person ever murdered, y’know. Anyway, time to let go, as they say. Go into the light when you see it. Try again. So, back to the bus then. And we’ll go look for that light for you, okay?”
Not about to let my murderer just walk away – and just go to that five thousand reward of his – I wailed at the back of his head with all the rage in me some truly foul language I might only have heard once from a borrowed dvd.
He spun around in the rain, seeming to hear me, and not hearing the garbage truck hurtling in precisely where he stepped in front of it.
I blinked, stopped short. Brakes screeched an amazingly long moment.
And then that voice of his, drawling over my shoulder: “See. Shoes. First thing.”