This began on a Tuesday; must have been a Tuesday.
The only reason why I know this is because of the sick kid. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would have ignored the signs. Five years on this route and not once did I ever pay attention to a passenger until some mother took her son out of a stroller and let her little brat get sick all over another passenger who was just trying to get to work.
You may wonder why I noticed this one passenger. Mr. D., I called him. He looked a little like David-something-or-other (that actor in those movies), so I thought of Mr. D. and kept it to myself. He was there every weekday morning at the same time in the autumn and spring, so I noticed him. You tend to let faces stick in your head when you do the same shifts and have nothing to distract you except people without the exact change, wheelchair people who need to have the bus drop down so they can roll on, and the slow ones who just need you to wait before you leave the stop so that they do not fall down and create a headache and a lawsuit. Rear-view mirrors are very good for that.
Those mirrors… That was why I noticed it. Mr. D. did not have his regular spot in the middle of the left side; the side with all of the single seating. He was on the other side, sharing his seat with a very beautiful woman who was smiling and laughing at whatever it was he was saying to her. Strange thing is that I cannot remember her coming on board after him. She was one of those people who got on at the main terminus and took almost the whole route to get to her stop. And Mr. D. was a later pickup. What was going on?
Really, I needed to know… The kid got sick right on the spot where Mr. D. should have been sitting that day. But he had not chosen that spot. He had decided to pick a seat that he would have to share with someone in the early morning rush. And he had found a very special someone. Not that I was jealous – Loni, I love you – but it was something a man notices when he is driving on a dull Tuesday.
There was some cleanup to do, but the weird thing is that Mr. D. got off early near a subway station to go to work. He never did that. Believe me I would have noticed if he was suddenly ending his trip to work short to take the metro. But there he was, stepping off the bus…with that woman in the red coat and incredible black hair (Loni, I still love you).
You would think that was it. Nothing else could have possibly happened between the pick-ups, the sick kid, me trying to calm down all the passengers who were demanding wipes and tissues from me as I grabbed them from under my seat as they all lost their minds. But no, it was not over. It was far from over.
It was not even supposed to be my shift anymore. They wanted me on during the afternoons and evenings, and I said I wanted the mornings, all because of this Mr. D. That may seem strange, but please hear me out.
About a week after that bus ride, I finished my shift in the afternoon and decided to stop for a coffee. Usually, I just nurse a cup and read a paper. But that day, I heard it.
“He is so lucky.”
“Damn well must be to get a girl like that.”
Those voices were new, but not the faces. I had seen them in here before and never really spoke to them. And this time, I really had to listen.
“One guy… One guy on a bus getting a girl like that and then he gets on the metro and the same thing happens again. The car stops, the brakes kick in too fast, and a beautiful blonde falls right on his lap. Mr. Cool just smiles and asks her if she’s all right and she just smiles at him and apologizes again and again. Like she did something wrong. I stayed on just to see them leave together and, I swear, she had her hand on his ass. One dumb-as-fuck lucky guy…”
Same guy? Probably…
Same woman? No, not a chance…
What was going on and why was this happening?
They were businessmen, too. They dressed like Mr. D and probably talked the way he did, if I ever heard him talk to confirm it. Part of me wanted to talk to them, but I decided to just leave and think about my shift.
Same time, same place… He got on and took his regular seat. There were some new faces on the ride and I could see what was about to happen.
A very angry looking couple took up the seats that he had been in the day before and began to bicker at each other. And then they raised their voices. And then people began to move around…except for Mr. D. He kept his spot while all that noise and anger began filling up the air.
The funny thing was that some passengers left their seats to take the subway once we reached it and the bus was almost completely empty. But Mr. D. stayed. The couple stayed. The noise continued.
And then it stopped.
I almost had an accident when I checked the rearview mirror and saw him speaking to the couple. He was in a perfect position to talk to them when they were in the worst moment of their fight. He did not even raise his voice for me to hear what he was saying. It was just for that couple.
And it worked.
And that would have been the end of it if I had not had one more interesting moment with him.
Wish I could forget it now…
My car was not working that day, so after my shift I had to take a cab from the garage. Usually, at the taxi stand, there are plenty of cabs around waiting for a fare, but today was a little bit unusual.
Not a single cab was there.
Uber? Please… I really did not trust any company that would let anyone pick you up and take you somewhere for free (maybe I have been driving the bus for too long, but I still think I’m right). It was better to just wait.
Glad I did that, too.
One cab did show up, but it did not stop. All the driver did was pass by slowly and dawdle at the stop sign (thought it was strange that he took so long). But I did not mind. The thing was full and I wondered why every seat was taken.
And then I saw who it was.
Mr. D. was driving. I almost waved at him to see if he recognized me, but I could tell that he was not alone.
It was not a fare. How could it be? Most of the people who take cabs sit in the back, right? So what was she doing there?
My beautiful Loni.
How in the hell did he even find her? She broke up with me ages ago and never even tried to get in touch with me after I explained why I could not get away from my ex- and her family. And there she was, right in the front seat with this Mr. D (like the comedian; not funny at all this time), Mr. Cool, Mr. Front Seat.
And I got sick.
I could see that she wasn’t just sitting in the front seat.
She had her arm around him. She was looking at him they way she always looked at me when I dreamed about what could have been.
And in the back?
The same girl with the black hair…and a blonde I had not seen before. Both of them were smiling and laughing.
No one noticed me.
Just like the kid, I puked my guts out. At least the street was empty.
And I was all alone.
So, I waited. And waited. And when I finally got home, I waited again.
I sat in my kitchen and just let my thoughts settle. And then I came up with a plan.
I was not going to let Mr. D. get on the bus.
Now, this is something that can be a little awkward for a driver. There is no rule allowing us to refuse a passenger who is waiting to take a bus ride. Of course, there is also no rule that we have to pick up everyone we see. Besides, his stop was a pretty busy one on weekdays, so it was just a dream.
And I kept dreaming…
And yeah, as you probably guessed, he did not show up that day, or any other day from then on. Some of the other people waiting in line actually looked disappointed about this. One woman did ask for directions to some side street on my route and asked in passing:
“What about that other passenger?”
I thought that she was talking to someone else, so I focused on my turn.
“Excuse me, what about that other guy?”
“The other guy?”
“The one who is always at my stop. He just stopped showing up?”
“I guess so, ma’am. I have not seen him in a while.”
“Hmm. Kinda sad about that.”
She was quiet for a moment. I could not see her expression, but I would not have guessed that she could have been regret.
“He always knew where he had to be, didn’t he? Always in the right spot…”
She got off at the subway stop with many of the others, but I could not stop thinking about her last comment. Maybe it really was a gift…
Maybe it was his superpower…
Really dumb to think that way, I know, but I am about to take the night shift and I was told that things can get weird in the dark. And I have to pick the right bus number before the good ones are gone.
Still think I should pick the one he was on if I can.
It is ridiculous, right? This is just a coincidence, the right seat and the right person.
Am I right?