‘The Ticket’ by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the topic is “someone is caught on a bus without a ticket.”

This week’s contribution comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

MISTER WOLFE, the darkly dark (18+) sequel, is now available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529689

MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series, is scheduled for release in 2021.

***

“The Ticket” by Cathy MacKenzie

Hubby and I sit cowering in our seats. Me more than him. I fret; he doesn’t. 

“What can happen?” he asks.

“They can put us in jail. Do you want to go to jail? We’re in Europe in case you’ve forgotten. Rules are different in foreign countries.”

“This is a civilized country. We’re fine.”

“We’re not. We don’t have a ticket.”

We do have a ticket—we’re not that stupid—but not for this bus. Accidentally, we boarded the luxury bus, which costs more, instead of the regular one.

“They’ll never know,” Hubby says. “Calm down.”

I dig into my knapsack for the book I purchased in Vienna. If I act nonchalantly, the bus driver might think we’re dumb tourists instead of low-life criminals.

I open the book. Page 129. Doesn’t matter the page. I haven’t started reading the book, but no one will know. Too many fakers, right?

Hubby and I are sitting across from each other at the back of the bus. I can see anyone walking down the aisle. My French from high school is spotty, so we’ll be at the mercy of the language gods. Hubby doesn’t possess a smidgen of French.

Before we left Canada, I read that ignorance is not an excuse. If you’re on the wrong bus or train in Europe without a valid ticket—well, as I said, “Ignorance is no excuse.” Fines and penalties are outrageous. Jail time, too. Much too scary.

I shudder. When we’re jailed, will we be separated? I haven’t slept a night away from my husband since our marriage over forty years ago. What about food? And water? Will the guards starve us, or will we die of thirst first?

Hubby kicks me in the shin. “Calm down.”

I look up from my book.

“He’s coming,” I whisper. “He’s coming.”

“Who’s coming?”

“The bus conductor, stupid. Or whatever he’s called.”

“Oh, stop.”

“Don’t look.” I thrust the book against my face, but curiosity killed the cat, right?

The conductor is two rows behind Hubby.

Then one.

Next: our seats.

My stomach sinks. I can barely swallow. 

The conductor places his hand on the back of Hubby’s seat. Almost touches Hubby’s shoulder. He converses with the guy across from us. A single guy. The guy hands over his ticket. The conductor punches it with his hand-held gadget and hands it back.

Here it comes.

I’m gonna have a heart attack. This is it—the moment of truth when I prove Hubby wrong: when the policia barge into the bus, charge down the aisle, thrust out the handcuffs, and demand our wrists.

The conductor and the guy across the aisle start talking again.

A moment’s reprieve.

And then…

The conductor shuffles. Advances toward us.

My stomach flips and flops. My heart thumps against my chest.

He passes by, so close his navy jacket brushes against my arm.

What?

I look at unconcerned Hubby. “Keep still,” I whisper. “Keep still.”

Hubby has a horrible habit of opening his mouth at the most inopportune times. I can hear him: “Hey, conductor, you missed us. Here’s our tickets…”

Shut up, shut up.

The conductor passes us a second time, this time in reverse, marching to the front of the bus.

The bus lurches when it takes off. 

“We’re safe,” I mumble to Hubby.

“Told you so.”

(Note from author: This incident did happen except we were on a train. It was more than nerve-wracking.)

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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