Start? (short)

On an unusually gray evening in October, a street lamp flickered above a small and dingy bus stop on the corner of two empty streets. Rain pattered down as a miserable looking man sat on the cold bench next to a sign that read GREEN LINE / 42. He glanced up hopefully as a soft rumble echoed down the road, catching the warm scent of fresh pie from an open upper window across the way as he did. But seeing no bus rolling towards him, he tugged his jacket tighter and tried in vein to light another cigarette. The drenched brim of his hat drooped sadly on every side, and his carpet bag was slowly filling with water on the seat next to him. Sparks flew sadly from the tired lighter, but the orange glow was dowsed quickly. The man let out an exasperated ‘tuhh’ and crammed the lighter and soggy cigarette back into his shirt pocket. He looked tired.

Behind the man… in the shadow of a damp and littered alleyway, several unusual people sat about, apparently not much enjoying the rain either. They seemed to have traveled a long while, and were now keeping quiet until the man on the bench went on his merry way. They occasionally whispered a word or two amongst them, rapid and hushed. The sound was swallowed by the wind and slapping of rain drops against the pavement. Mostly, they watched the man, completely oblivious to their presence. They had seen him try to light an increasingly wet cigarette several times, but his poor lighter simply could not compete with the rain.

At last, a large bus turned a corner and squeaked to a stop in front of the small metal bench, and the man with his hat and carpet bag stepped on. The bus driver, a young woman wearing old Walkman headphones and sipping from a flat diet coke, barely gave him a glance as he scanned his pass and flopped into a seat. She closed the door with a long exhale and threw the bus into drive, creaking and rolling away down the road.

“Lord, I thought he’d never leave,” said the giant in the alley, speaking with a thick Scottish accent. “C’mon, let’s get a move on.” The group, 11 in total, of all shapes and sizes, jostled each other to their feet and started down the road. They passed one by one under the light of the flickering street lamp above the small, dingy bus stop.

A woman across the way, where the smell of pie had been wafting from, closed the open window with a muffled shout behind her shoulder, scolding whoever had left it open in the rain. She looked out at the charcoal colored street where our group of 11 voyagers was walking at just that moment. She couldn’t see a thing moving on the empty stretch of road, just the flickering of that blasted street lamp.

One Reply to “Start? (short)”

  1. Yessss.

    Few little wording bits/passive verbs I would clean up here but content-wise I love the details you’ve included and the pace at which it’s moving. I also LOVE that you infer the woman’s attention is fixated on an annoyance (the street lamp) and that’s the reason she doesn’t see the group – I might even say she simply “didn’t see” instead of “couldn’t see” them. It’s such a great comment on how we so easily fixate on distractions/our problems and resultingly miss interesting things around us.

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