‘An Encounter on a Bus’ by Phil Yeats

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

Phil Yeats wrote today’s post. In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

He’s currently working on a Cli-Fi novel. Information on that project is available on his website (https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com).

An Encounter on a Bus

by

Phil Yeats

Alan jerked to a stop when someone stepped in front of him on the university quadrangle.

“Alan. Alan Jenkins. Don’t you remember me? We were in the same grade at Valley Regional High. Christ. That’s only two years ago, and it’s not a big school.”

Alan relaxed. He avoided chance meeting with strangers, but this was someone he recognized from his school days, a colleague rather than a friend, but not an enemy. “Yeah, I remember you. Micky O’Malley. You went to the community college, didn’t you? You now here for third year?”

“And you, I imagine, are taking honours math or physics or something similar.”

“Math and computer science, but like, I’ve gotta get going…”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to hold you up, but I’m in a band and we’ve got a gig this weekend at the Troubadour Pub in East Lake. Been telling everyone I meet, hoping, you know, a few will show up.”

Alan scanned the sheet of eight and a half by eleven paper Micky offered him. “Kaleidoscope Retro-rock, I can go for that. I’ll try to make it, Friday probably.” He waved the paper as he stepped around Micky. “I’ll post this on a math department notice board.”

Friday evening at six, Alan rushed from his studio apartment to the nearest bus stop. He had the correct change for the two-zone fare and five minutes to catch the hourly bus to East Lake. But he’d dithered deciding if he’d attend the concert and almost missed it.

The bus pulled up as he arrived, and he followed three others up the steps. His problem was immediately obvious. He held up his two toonies, and the driver snorted. “When did you last ride a bus?”

“I don’t know. Six or eight months ago.”

The driver shook his head. “More than a year since the system went cashless. Go to a bus terminal or a convenience store and purchase a book of ten tickets—you’ll get a twenty percent discount on the single fare price.”

“But I’ll miss the bloody bus, and it’s an hour till the next one.”

A young woman pushed up behind him. “Here. Here’s a ticket. Give me your four bucks, push it into the damn machine, and find your seat. I’ve a gig to get to and time’s a wastin’.”

Alan timestamped his newly acquired ticket and slid into the first empty seat. She slid in beside him and settled down with a contented sigh. “So, you don’t normally take the bus. What’s the problem, broken-down car?”

Alan shrugged his shoulders. “Student living close to campus, so never needed a car. Going to a concert in East Lake, and I could have ridden my bike, but I thought the bus was better. What about you, you also a student?”

She nodded. “Second year music.”

“Violinist, or another orchestra instrument?”

“Voice.”

“Ah, a budding opera singer. Not sure I’d go for that.”

“What made you assume opera?”

“Don’t know. Isn’t the university’s program all about classical music?”

“Not really. I’m in the jazz program and there’s other streams.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to dis other kinds of music, and I’m like not a classical music freak. Like tonight, I’m going to a pub to listen to a rock band because someone from my high school’s in it.”

“Who’s that?”

“Micky O’Malley, you know him?”

“He’s in the music program and not studying classical.”

She was silent for the rest of the trip, and Alan figured his comments about musical genres had ticked her off. But she was friendly again in East Lake when she pointed out the convenience store where he could buy a ticket for his return trip.

After buying his single ticket, he hit the pub for a beer and fish and chips before the music started. He’d pushed aside his empty plate when a few bass notes reverberated, and a spotlight followed the girl from the bus onto the dimly lit stage. She approached the mike by a circuitous route while plucking an extended riff on her electric bass. When she reached the mike, the stage lights darkened as she started singing the intro to their first song. Micky and three others joined in. the lights came up and they launched into their set.

Alan was blown away by the unexpected theatrical nature of their set’s start and the presence of the girl on the bus as a band member.

Why hadn’t she mentioned it when I described my meeting with Micky O’Malley at the university?

When the set ended, she skipped to Alan’s table, all smiles and mischievously twinkling eyes as she pulled out a chair and sat, uninvited. “What do you think? Are we as good as the Metropolitan Opera?”

“Hey, I never said I favoured opera, but you were good, something original about your sound, and I really like the theatricality of your performance.”

“Far out, a new fan.” She held up a CD. “Can I sell you a record?”

He dug out the cash, and she stood with more smiles as she took his money. “Gotta go and sell CDs to the punters. Maybe I’ll see you around campus next week.” She skipped away, calling out over her shoulder, “I’ll be looking for ya.”

As he finished his third beer, he idly turned over the CD. A sticky note on the back contained a phone number, but no message. He stuffed the CD in his pack and made his way to the bus stop.

Another day, another experience, and one more reason I should stick to my normal routines.

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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