I hated having to take the bus. You always had to be there at least ten minutes before the scheduled time, and even then you might still miss it. Nervous to be late for a job interview, I arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled time. I sat down on the bench next to the stop’s sign and started to read my email on my phone. A voice, raw from a long life of use, muttered, “Youngsters these days, never offer to help an old man anymore.”
I turned my head in the direction of the voice and saw a frail bodied man, almost too small for the suitcase that he dragged along with both hands. I jumped up and pulled the suitcase the last few meters to the bus stop.
I smiled a half sincere smile and sat back down on the bench. He made a tsk kind of noise. I realized I sat in right in the center, so I moved over so he could sit next to me. He shook his head and sat, tremble-legged, down on his suitcase. I sighed.
He dug up a frayed handkerchief from his coat pocket and wiped the sweat off his forehead. I could feel his sharp gaze burn holes in my soul. “You think me old. You think me weak.”
I shook my head with well-acted conviction.
He smiled. His eyes turned cold and his jaw clenched. “Good. I could kill you in a heart beat. Maybe two. Better hope the bus is in time.” He patted the suitcase and mumbled again, “There is a high price for upsetting me.”
I slid to the far end of the bench, seeking as much distance from him as I could. I stared at the suitcase and scared myself shitless with the thought that it was big enough to fit a body.
He stood up and removed the bus pass from his pockets with the slow hands of an old man. “The bus is coming, be ready.”
He was right. The blue city bus put-putted into the street. He slowly stood up and glared at me.
The bus stopped, the door opened. The man called out at the driver to come help him with the suitcase.
As the driver placed the case in the bus, the man glanced at me again and said, “Coming?”
I clenched my pass in my pocketed hand and said, “No.”
He entered the bus, and waved at me as the bus pulled away from the stop. I shuddered.
Moments later the bus curved out of the street. I took a deep breath, as if I had forgotten to breathe for minutes. I jumped up from the bench, and ran home.