Week #31 – Missed the bus

Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.

The theme is Missed the bus.

Public Transportation, Ensenada by Bernard Heise
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The Pride . by Len Kuntz

She watched the carnage through parted fingers. The first lion caught the gazelle’s hind quarter, the next its neck.

Even on the television, she could hear the cracking bones.

In the next scene, half a dozen lions gathered around the corpse, taking turns tearing off hunks of bloody meat.
“Compared with other animals,” the announcer voice said, “lions are very social creatures. A Lion’s Pride is made up of related females and their offspring.”

She sleeps poorly. In her nightmares she runs through vines and jungles as the cats snarl and claw.

When she wakes, her husband has breakfast made. He’s been a stay-at-home dad for a year now. Her job as an attorney is lucrative enough, and David has no ego.

She watches him do something with his fingers, tracing in the air. Their daughter giggles and draws loops with her thumbs. “What are you doing?” she asks. David explains that they’ve invented their own sign language. “Sign, I love you, Mommy.” But she won’t. The girl’s become stubborn and shy now.

She always passes by the bus stop on her way to work. The moms from their track mansions wear Gucci sweats and Jimmy Choo heels, even in winter. Four of the women circle David, laughing. Their daughter is off to the side.

David drops his grin as she rounds the corner, revving the motor. They all gape. They scream and leap.

So, this is how a lioness feels, she thinks, going in for the kill.

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Bonne Fire . by Matt Potter

The flames shot higher and hotter and flushed my face amber and orange and red. Holding my breath, I closed my eyes.

“It’s a new beginning, Madeleine,” Rob said, his breath warm on my face. “You can do it.”

Stepping forward, I opened my eyes to watch her glossy face wrinkle and crackle and curl. Magazine covers ripped from their spines, defaced articles and slashed film posters, all collected since 1983 in scrapbooks and albums and shoeboxes, when (we were both sixteen) she stole the part of Judy in BMX Bandits from me and launched her international career.

“Do it, Madeleine.”

I nodded my head. Loosening my fingers, the Nicole doll dropped from my grasp and landed just out of flames’ reach. I bent to pick it up but Rob sprang forward and kicked it into the fire.

Noxious fumes rose as flames licked around the perfect face and the plastic body and blonde hair melted. And the voodoo pins pinged as, folding and imploding, she was reduced to a petro-chemical puddle.

“Repeat after me,” he said. “Nicole Kidman did not steal my career. BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

“Nicole Kidman did not steal my career,” I chanted. “BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

Rob wiped away tears.

“Nicole Kidman did not steal my career. BMX Bandits was a shit film.”

I smiled him a recovery smile.

Back inside, Rob hummed while doing the dishes.

And sneaking on the internet, I ordered a life-size Nicole Kidman doll.

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Legs . by Susan Tepper

Trey told me not to put on pantyhose. He said it gets in the way if he wants to get in right away. I felt dizzy after he made that speech. I was putting sugar in my tea and I never use sugar in tea. That’s how turned around he made me. The kitchen wallpaper has stripes and they were dancing. Well, wavering. Either way I left for work without my Chapstick and no pantyhose. I was cold walking to the bus. When I got to the bus shelter it was empty. I looked down the street and saw the back end of my bus, the dark smoky tail pipe emission that’s probably illegal. I sat down in the empty bus shelter. It would be twenty minutes to a half hour before the next one. My legs were freezing. I touched them and felt nothing. “This could be bad,” I said aloud to no one. “This could be the start of frostbite.” I stood up and started to move around the bus shelter, then I jumped up and down and bent in different directions. I stamped my feet on the ground. Nothing was bringing back the feeling in my legs. I could see the ER docs sawing them off then asking me if I wanted to take them home.

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I’d Rather Be Fishing . by Michael Webb

I stared around at the reporters. They had surrounded me in a semicircle as the players stretched and loosened up before heading out to the court. I had made my decision, which all of them had heard about, but they needed to hear it from me. One finally spoke up. It was Red, a curly haired Irishman from the daily paper.

“You going to start him, Doc?”

“Nope.”

“But he’s your best player.”

“Yup.”

I looked at the others- Sage, a slim, pretty African American girl from the cable channel, Rachel, a blonde from local TV, and Rick, a fat guy from a national magazine.

Sage spoke next, “So he’s going to play, Doc?”

“Nope.”

They stared at me.

“You’re going to sit him,” Rachel asked, “in a game seven? For all the marbles?”

“Yup.”

Rick chimed in, “He’ll fire you, you know.”

“Maybe,” I said.

The rule was, if you miss the bus, you don’t play, I thought. I told them that on day 1. It might get me fired, like he said. But if you don’t stand for something, then you don’t stand for anything. The rule is the rule. Be on time, I told them, and we won’t have a problem.

Go ahead and fire me, I thought. I’d rather be fishing anyway.

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The Bus . by Catherine Russell

The day Laurie took the dingy looking greyhound to Miami, I was in New York. My job prevented me from accompanying her, though I insisted she not drive alone. A woman travelling by herself on long isolated stretches of road would make an easy victim.

My fears proved to be unfounded. I lost her – not to a solitary accident on some lonely highway but a multi car pile up on I-95. Surrounded by her fellow passengers, she died alone.

Everyone dies alone.

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129 Southbound . by Katherine Nabity

When she slept, Julie often dreamt of a man named Ben.

Ben was the right amount of tall. He had dark hair and sparkling blue eyes. He was rugged, but with boyish looks. Like a young Robert Sean Leonard. Ben always agreed with her or, if he didn’t, he politely deferred. Being a Cubs fan was the closest he came to athletics and he solemnly believed, like her, that there was no good rock music past 1979. And when he held her? Well, that felt like being safe and sound at home.

She met Jason on May 12th when she missed the 8:10, 129 southbound. He rode the 8:20 every day. His nose was a too big, more Adrian Brody than Dr. Wilson. In heels, she’d be able to look into his chameleon-like gray eyes. Jason played rec league basketball and had never set foot in Wrigley Field. He liked new, inventive music. Some of it was okay. He argued with her, demanded that she justify her views, but wasn’t afraid to change his mind if she had a good point. And when they touched, it was like being set on fire.

Ben took usually took the 8:00, 129 southbound, but on May 12th, he was late and rode the 8:10. He often dreamt of a girl named Julie, who was petite and a Cubs fan…

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The Missed Bus . by Joanne Jagoda

Every morning is a variation of the same theme. First I can’t find my glasses, my backpack, wallet, cell phone or keys. I admit I am scatterbrained, despite having plenty of brain power when it comes to physics and advanced math. The organization gene is clearly missing from my DNA. Unfortunately I haven’t changed my bad habits while studying in Israel doing my junior year abroad. Though I attempt daily lists and try to set my things out the night before, I still waste so much time running about gathering my belongings every morning.

This morning is especially chaotic. My glasses fell under my bed and I spent an extra fifteen minutes cursing and hunting for them. My trying-to-sleep, exasperated roommate is fuming under her pillow. Then half way up the block I remember I forgot my cell phone. I trudge back to my apartment shivering in the chill of this January morning under a stunning blue sky. I figure as long as I am going to miss my regular bus and be late for class again, I will rummage for my knit scarf and gloves.

Warmly bundled and finally confident I have my stuff, I head to the bus stop, a ten minute walk to the #18 which will take me up to the university. A deafening explosion shakes the ground and I hear a crazy cacophony of horns and blaring sirens. I start to shudder. That was my regular bus.

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Missed many boats . by Stella Pierides

Have you heard the expression “missed the boat?” It is pertinent to
where I live, because there are no cars, no buses to “miss” on my
island. Only boats. There is the boat to the nearest town, and the
ferry-boat to Athens, once a week. No one misses those, as they are
the only contact we have with the outside world. No one, that is,
except Meropi.

After her husband’s boat went down in heavy seas, she never made it on
time to a boat: she missed the boat to her daughter’s wedding, to her
giving birth; to the christening, and then the marriage of her only
grandchild. To the doctor’s office on Naxos, after several days of
suffering the big pressure on her chest.

She was afraid of the sea, you see. A woman born and bred on an
island! Terrified of the Aegean waves crushing on the huge rocks, she
avoided even looking at them. No wonder she missed many boats.

But, no one misses the boat to Hades. So, today Meropi is on time. She
is being carried in her coffin on board, as we speak. The local priest
performed the service already – while, curiously, numerous doves
collected on the belfry – and she is braving the meltemi to reach her
place of rest, on the mainland. I can hear her only goat’s bell
ringing, as if already missing her. God bless her soul; I am not one
for traveling either.

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Colonial Contestants . by Robert Vaughan

Crammed into the back
seats for the trip
desert air steamy mixed
with bathroom vomit
on this overnight bus
Vegas strip glittering, here
we come: closer to the edge

I dozed in disruptive spurts
waking often, tossing,
sliding, a slippery seal
in a carnival
barker louder than
Bob’s:
“C’mon down!”

At the Luxor,
frivolous music festered
contestants drooled
seeking unnecessary prizes
they won’t even use
burying them in their salt-
box colonials

I missed my bus
back to Terwilla
the morning after
my philandering husband
leapt from the peak
mercy momma
he came undone

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The Happiness Bus . by Susan Gibb

The morning after Jackie’s life dissolved in a whoosh of words and a slamming door, she missed the bus and waited fifteen minutes for the next one.

It bumbled, squealed and stopped. This driver didn’t smile in recognition, wish her a good morning. No smiles along the aisle, no nods, no “Hi, Jackie!” to make it better. She was a woman who’d lost her man, her plans for happily-ever-after.

She pulled out her e-reader but couldn’t concentrate. He’d taken her wedding gown, her anniversary parties, her children with him when he’d left. She looked around, guessing the life of strangers. It was better that she’d missed her regular bus–these people didn’t know, couldn’t tell that she was different now.

A woman sat across the aisle knitting some horrid orange thing. A young woman next to her was beaming down at a bundle she cradled in her arms. The man in front had serious dandruff that made her cringe. No one looked like they’d been broken into pieces. Everyone on the stinking bus had a better life than her.

She read, often re-reading to get the drift of story. People brushed by, got on, most got off. Her stop was next. When she put the reader away she saw the bundle left behind. It moved. She rushed and picked it up just as the bus swung around a corner and hissed to a stop. She smiled as she got off, suddenly feeling better.

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Token . by Dorothee Lang

A room. Shelves filled with things, trinkets, pictures, gifts, little statues. An open suitcase on the bed. I put those things inside, the pictures, the gifts, the trinkets. They are my memories, tokens of time. Then I close the suitcase, and walk down streets, past a park, until I arrive at the bridge. There’s a bench there, a waiting place for the bus that will come and carry me home.

Sitting there, I realize that I forgot the things in the drawer. So I leave the suitcase, and walk back to the room, to gather them. But I get lost on the way. Instead of the park, there is a huge hotel, alleys with stores that are filled with antiques. I follow another street, thinking it will take me to the bridge, to my suitcase, and the bus stop. But the street only leads to more shops. I walk on, disorientated, and finally enter a café. A woman offers a seat at her table, she talks of Japan, and shows me pictures of a lake, of trees covered with snow. Still she talks of summer. I can understand her, even though her language is different. Others I can’t understand, even though they talk the same language as I do.

The day moves on, but we all remain sitting there, trying to communicate, and I think, maybe we all got lost somewhere, and missed the bus that would take us home.

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That Girl . by Nicolette Wong

I missed the bus staggering through the pages in silver ink: a jolly vehicle that rocks along the highway into the morning mist, on the lookout for gullible souls who will come on board to share a silence that will weigh heavy on the empty seats if its solitude goes on for just a little longer.

The bus is not meant to be lonely. Neither is the girl who is waiting for me at the other end of the story. She stands hopeful in a pink wool coat, against the color of mercury which has taken over the daybreak.

On a fine day she is the messenger of good tidings: fine and sunny, windy and dry. Even her voice rings with what she leaves unsaid: today is the day when you seek your pleasure out there in this world, for you are only living for the day you die.

On a stormy day there is a slight crack in her voice. In the enclosed room. Over the radio. In the air that we breathe, on disappearing streets to the limits of our memories. We lose one another in the loss of hope.

The girl does not like it, but it is her job to be neutral. She boards the bus every morning to reach her stop. Today she is waiting for me, but I cannot hold her. We are not supposed to meet.

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Last Bus to Translation . by Al McDermid

From the diner, the report sounded like a gun shot. I turned to see an old greyhound bus rolling into Clyde’s station, one of its back right tires obviously blown. The door opened and some of the passengers filed out, stretching.

“Looks like the town going to grow some,” Rosie said from behind the counter.

“Yep,” I said, “looks that way.”

The driver came in, sat at the counter, and ordered a coffee. “First the detour, then this,” he said. “Guess it’s just going to be one of those days.”

“You have no idea,” I said. Rosie glared at me and silently mouthed ‘stop it’ but she was smiling.

The driver looked about to say something but was interrupted when one of his passengers came in, a young blond girl in a full-on Hippie Chick get-up, who headed immediately for the restroom. Was that look back in style?

“Never mind him,” Rosie said. “He’s just like that. Clyde will have you fixed up in no time.”

The driver finished his coffee and headed out, getting to the bus just as Clyde was finishing up. He herded his passengers aboard, turned the bus around, and was heading down the road when Hippie Girl came running out of the restroom.

“Oh man,” she said, obviously exasperated. “I knew that driver wanted to ditch me.”

“Don’t worry, Hon,” Rosie said. “He’ll be back. Say, you want some pie?”

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Cholo . by Fred Osuna

There was that time he decided to avoid the whole situation by getting off the bus early. He was now twenty miles from school at 7:30 in the morning, and he hitched rides far enough along the route so that he could walk the rest of the way. When he slipped into the classroom forty minutes late, he felt like a badass, not at all the sophomore who was bullied daily by the bandana’d cholo from Chula Vista, nor the awkward virgin who had to hide the obvious erection in his crotch with a Pee Chee.

The next day, he was emboldened, and addressed the cholo as he climbed onto the bus. “Que pasa, Juanito?” No one called that guy such things. He was feared. But by the time the cholo had grasped the new order, the driver was pulling into the school parking lot.

It went like this for another month, a standoff, with no confrontations beyond an exchange of glares. Then the sophomore got his license, inherited a used Chevy, and started driving himself to school.

Today, the Nova broke down on the freeway, smoke rising from under the hood. As he waited for the mechanic to arrive, the bus passed him. One terrified white face peered from the window, a frightened, trapped boy in a cardigan. Behind him was the glowering shade of the cholo, still raging, mouth nearly frothing, grabbing at the kid’s lunch bag, ripping his school papers.

He didn’t miss it at all.

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Fishing . by Chelsea Biondolillo

Because I could see the over-sized square face of the bus, rounding the corner; because I couldn’t be late to work again; because I had worn tennis shoes and could run; because of all this I sped past the fisherman on the canal at exactly his moment of triumph.

Gleaming, swiveling, the carp arced on the end of his hand-tied line. It was majestic, as city fish go, weighty and sleek. The green lurid smell of the water swirled thick around them. His broken smile cracked wide as he held up his prize, spun on his sole-less shoes toward the traffic stopped at the light. I wanted to slow down, admire his catch. I wanted to take his picture, and ask his name. I wanted to know who he was fishing for, but instead, I called out, “¡Que Bonito!” and thought of the time clock. I raced past the school of rush hour drivers. No one honked, no one cheered this miracle: a grand fish–instead of a crooked bike tire or drowned campaign sign–dredged up from the canal. On any other day this stream was just an obstacle to drive over or around.

I never looked back to see if his victory remained unwithered. I heaved onto the bus, the doors wheezing closed behind me. Did his smile falter? Turn toward the fish?

At work, everyone did the things they did, and nothing at all happened. The next day I came early, but the fisherman was gone.

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Missing the Bus . by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Grey clouds tangled in leafless tree limbs and telephone lines. Gertrude twisted the watch, puzzling at the liver patches circling her wrist. Almost noon — where was the bus? If she was late who would feed Norry her tomato soup and animal cracker lunch? Who would put her down for her afternoon nap?

The wind whipped leaves into an eddy of bronze and carried the raw smell of impending rain. Perhaps she should not have tarried for coffee after her shift — her co-workers were such awful gossips. But what wicked fun. And she deserved some fun, Gertrude thought. She worked hard to potatoes in the larder.

A bus rumbled past. The Number 9 to City Square. Panic wormed through her stomach and seeped to her chest. Where was the 55 to home? Raindrops splattered her flannel slippers. She looked down at the widening puddle. Where were her white shoes? She touched her wet head. Her nursing cap?

The sky cracked open. Gertrude hiccoughed a rending sob and sank knee-first to the muddy ground. She clasped her hands in prayer. Mother Mary, take care of Norry and bring me to her.

A siren wailed lonesome. She crunched her eyes and prayed harder. Behind her, feet pattered closer. Firm hands grasped her shoulders.
“Thank God we found you!”

Gertrude stopped her prayers. She wobbled up and let the kind-faced lady lead her down the street. Something about her eyes reminded her of Noreen.

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New Love . by C.J. Rakay

There’s nothing better than new love, except maybe breakfast for dinner. I was enjoying both. The incandescently lovely woman across the table, so adorably trying to decide between bacon or sausage (while the waitress bounced from one foot to another) was Annie; a five-foot nothing, blonde headed, blue eyed, smart as a whip, fireball who had embezzled the whole of my heart…a crime I enthusiastically applauded.

I love the sound of Annie’s voice, her infectious laugh, and how when she’s thinking, she bites her soft lower lip with a line of perfect white teeth.

Over dinner/breakfast we talked nonstop; about her entering law school next month, about me starting my new job downtown and, oh yes, how tonight she will definitely bake that pie she’s been promising —apple.

I threw thirty bucks on the table and we scooted out into the crisp Colorado cold. Annie linked my arm tightly and made the “brrrr” sound as we did the walk-snuggle thing heading to the bus stop. I said something funny; I can’t remember exactly, but I remember saying, “…sounds a little like Bob Dylan”. She shot me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket and laughed, “God, I hope not!”

I heard a baritone rumble. Then felt nothing. There was a tiny light; like a flashbulb sparkle. Utter silence. Then just black. I felt nothing at all. I knew I was gone. I don’t know what happened to Annie.

I never saw the truck. I hope she did.

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ELECTRIC EYES . by Marcus Speh

missed the bus today. hung out at the stop for a bit, then drifted into thoughts of alien spaceships fighting over the last women on the planet. i wondered if all things were what they seemed to be. buses for example. they might be highly intelligent metal creatures but we look at them as things, created for a purpose. or let’s look at something not made by man, like snow. it just seems to fall to earth for no reason in particular, every flake like every other flake. which is only true as long as you don’t look at them more closely. then you realise that each snow flake is like an entire world unlike any other. and if you look even more carefully, with microscopes that haven’t been invented yet, you see that these snow flake worlds are populated by millions of tiny men, all frozen. one breath of warm air from you and they’d come alive for a moment as short as they’re small before they melt, disappear and enter a place where you can’t go, at least not on a bus, which finally came. i sat down on the green bench of this bus. i growled at an elderly lady who wanted to sit next to me. i looked out the window at the winter wonder world, and i spat this whole mental monolog out on the ground like a piece of gum i was done with. out on the slushy, thawing ground covered with silently screaming snow people. i closed my electric eyes and relaxed into the ride.

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Missed the Bus . by Peggy Landsman

The wheels on the bus went

round and round

round and round

round and round.

The wheels on the bus went

round and round…

They did not stop for me.

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Perceptions . by Derin Attwood

If I stop at the top of the hill and look around, I can see right out to the horizon. I see the trees, lakes, fields and sky. Close in, it’s green and yellow, the water cold blue. In the distance, countryside is blue and grey. The sky is vast, a myriad of blues, greys, lavenders and whites. In some parts, the sky and lake merge and the horizon disappears. Of course, if I come tomorrow, it’ll be different, the colours will have changed and I can see the horizon again.

From the bottom of the hill, looking up, I see trees, the hill and sky – white clouds on blue. The world is smaller, the horizon nearer. The lake in the distance has disappeared – the colours are louder. From here everything appears bigger. Am I smaller, I wonder.

The trees and the hill tower above me. But on top of the hill, the distance alters perception and I feel insignificant – but huge. The sky is massive, but I stand above everything. The mountains can sit on my hand – the trees are mere twigs on the ground. The colours are different. Grass has many shades of green, flowers glow like jewels.

Of course, generally I just trudge up the hill and down the hill, and I don’t look at anything. It’s there, but I don’t see because it’s always there. Or is it? Would I notice if it disappeared?

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Maybe . by Stephen Hastings-King

Once we were in love. Then we disappeared.

Very slowly you fell through the floor of memory rooms that were brightly lit and entirely your own and dissipated into surrounding zones of detritus and decay, then in fragments drifted down through networks of seldom-visited structures comprised of corridors that connect nothing and stretch arbitrarily & spread yourself across a map of the sky that is outside of them became a constellation superimposed of diagrams of astral scatter or the relations and environments that absence creates, intimate but inaccessible.

I see you as you were. Once we were in love maybe.

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Things Left Unsaid . by Kim Hutchinson

I wish I had told you this story. When you died, there were so many things left unsaid.

There is much that feels like someone else’s life. So much time was wasted waiting for my life to begin.

Waking hours were sleepwalking. Reality only pierced the fog in my dreams.

About a year before you died, I dreamt I was standing alone on a dark corner under a streetlamp. There was nothing as far as the eye could see.

A bus pulled up. He was driving. He waved angrily for me to hurry and embark.

Reluctantly, I got on and sat beside him. The seats behind us rose in a theatre formation. They were empty. The house lights were on.

He drove down the deserted freeway like a maniac. The billboards flashed rolling computer codes. We passed too quickly to be able to read them.

I knew I was on the wrong bus, but jumping off was a death sentence. I was afraid, but by then I was used to that.

That’s where the dream ended, barreling down a dark freeway on an empty bus, trapped with a driver full of anger and hate, no signs to guide the way.

I woke up next to him. I never told you. Anything.

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Off the grid . by Guy Yasko

The bus slices through the grid, leaving six way intersections in its
wake. Inside, the boy holds his hand to the window and looks for a
street sign. His sister sits beside him and says nothing, her legs
swinging with each pothole.

The bus stops and idles. The boy hasn’t seen the sign.

– Harlem Ave, as far as we go, folks.

He has read of this place, on bus signs and route maps. It seemed
impossibly far away. He holds his limp transfer in his hand and waits
for a bus to take them back. Headlights tease, but no bus appears.

– Let’s walk.

His sister says nothing.

At the next stop, he doesn’t bother to look back. They walk on, past the
silent airport, past alphabetical streets.

– I’m tired.

The boy puts her on his back. She feels lighter when Ls turn to Ks.

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Sometimes there was no air . by Doug Bond

Downtown you felt netted like a one-eyed fish, big behind double-paned glass. Soprano sax piped from invisible outdoor speakers, stunted shrubs that weren’t shrubs at all, even though that’s what you called them. Women slender in dark skirts taunted by city wind, wrapping around, patted it all back down, and threshed a weave with closely cropped angular young men who never had hair growing where it shouldn’t.

You felt missing for cool air, crisp air. Sometimes there was no air. It was dirty air, thick air. Stainless steel and glass. The wrong change in your pocket you watched the bus roll away. Your buddy wearing Brooks said to never let them see you ride. You took a walk hopped the turnstile underground.

Peanut brittle crumbled in your pocket as you picked up the paper blue bundle at the narrow storefront uptown, took it up your three flights. The skinny old laundry man fucked it up. Lost one of your best socks. The one in your hand now worthless.

And that’s the word you used when you said it out loud to his face. Scrawny old gray stubble ripping you off for a bundle of laundry and the folds done the wrong way. When he opened up the half door counter in the back where he hid, you snapped in a circle, the reek of vodka, sweat and chlorine. You saw the dark inked letter, dashed with a four digit number embedded in his arm, looked away and never went back.

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The Day Could Have Turned Out Otherwise . by Kelly Grotke

He’d just missed the bus. Half an hour then for another, according to the screen. His friends were still around the corner at the bar but the weather had turned damp and he didn’t feel like crossing the park again to rejoin them. A slight annoyance at bad timing before the book he’d been carrying around all day finally came out.

He’d had a friend, a monk as it happened, who’d always covered his books in plain brown paper. The only person he’d ever known to do such a thing. He could no longer remember why exactly but maybe it was to guard against the temptations of intellectual pride, or perhaps it was a habit acquired in the years before the Index was abolished. Funny, how holding a book in public even now for him recalled an action whose precise justification had long gone astray.

“What are you reading?” Without words, he lifted the book from his lap to reveal its spine. “The essay about truth, I liked that one very much, have you read it?” No, he admitted, looking up. “All my possessions are in these bags, isn’t that funny? My books are all gone, but on the other hand I believe your bus is here. Good to see someone reading anyways. ‘Bye then.” And he felt for a moment as if time had suddenly flown down to land on him like some exquisite and untamed bird, but just as quickly it passed and he got on the bus.

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Cool Dog . by Michael J. Solender

Cool quiet dog.

Do that one you did before. Before the rain, before I ran. Before I ran and before you knew how much I needed you.

Slay me, slake me. Slather me with all of you but don’t say one word. Not one. Don’t tell me lies like you love me and shit I don’t want to here. Do it like the first time. Like you want. Not how you think I want. It’s cool. I’m OK with that, no matter what you’re thinking.

Don’t think.

Just be.

Just do.

Do that one, cool dog.

Cool quiet dog.

That’s right. That’s right.

You know you see it, you see how it is. I’m waiting. Shh, don’t talk, don’t talk at all. Let it go.

There.

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I Missed the Bus . by Lynn Beighley

I missed sitting in the comfortable seat, hearing Julie, our guide,
tell us interesting things about Wales, or London, or Edinburgh. I
missed singing along to silly songs as we were chauffeured about the
English countryside. I missed being with a group of people who 14 days
before were strangers. I missed having companions, people who didn’t
mind my age, because they were my age, who didn’t mind Irv’s lousy
jokes, because everyone on the bus made the same lousy jokes. I missed
the way Irv lit up when we were eating dinner with everyone else and
teased those among us who refused to try things like blood pudding and
haggis. I missed the way Irv woke up and immediately wanted to talk
about the day ahead, the things we’d be seeing. I missed seeing things
I’ll never have a chance to see again with Irv. I missed the bus
today. I miss Irv.

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A Prophet and a Penthouse Suite . by Martin Brick

“Don’t miss the bus,” the man growled. Stephen just walked past, but the man followed. “Talking to you.”

Stephen looked back, wavering between threatening and dismissive. Usually he ignored the homeless, but this guy taunted for weeks.

“There’s a bus for you. Be on it.”

Hours later he stepped onto the balcony. Too cold really, but he admired the December air. The lights. The half-silence of height.

His grandfather owned 40 acres in Ohio and was a humble, poor man. Stephen owned a fraction of that, but in Manhattan, and was decadently rich.

His grandfather had disputes over stray cows. Stephen – insider trading. The feds were interested.

“Thinking of jumping?” Helen pulled on the fur as she stepped out. Nothing on underneath but black lace, looking like his Jack Vettriano painting. She said he lived a Vettriano-painted life.

He bought the coat to distract her from the federal investigation and from his secretary.

“Not that bad. I’ll pull through.”

She looked out. “You think jumpers ever hurt others? Hit a person? Hit a cab?”

The man came to mind. “Hit a bus?” Even transients wanted him to take a flying leap.

“My grandpa… with a shotgun,” he told Helen. “Because he lost the farm.”

The next morning, again: “Don’t miss the bus.”

Stephen snapped, grabbed the man’s coat. “Stop harassing me! You want a bus?” And pushed him into the street.

He had time to reconsider. As the bus approached he leapt, pushed the man back. Saved his life.

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The Arctic Express . by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Sky: Snows, turns dark.

Street: Freezes. Remains on a hill.

Traffic: None on this block.

Two: Did I miss the bus?

One: You either missed it, or it didn’t come.

Two: Hasn’t come.

One: One or the other. Which one?

Two: I don’t know; I asked you.

One: I meant which bus.

Two: ST220X

One: I’m ST325.

Two: How long have you been waiting?

One: Holds up a wrist well-layered with gloves and sleeves, drops it before exposing anything. I don’t know. My watch froze.

Two: Since you’ve been waiting?

One: Since I’ve been waiting.

Two: You’ve been waiting long.

One: Have I? I don’t know. My watch—

Two: Froze.

One: Right.

Four Hands: Rubbed together, stuck in pockets, pulled back out and breathed upon.

Two: Is that a bus?

One: Headlights anyway.

Traffic: A white bus swirled with ambiguous blues and greens takes ten minutes to traverse a block.

Bus: Stops. Opens door. Displays no number.

Driver: Get in fast. The brakes can’t hold for long.

One: Bounds onto bus, flashing pass.

Two: Which bus is this? Where are you going?

Driver: Everywhere we can get. This is the Arctic Express; get on.

Two: Steps away.

Bus: Begins to slip.

Driver: Your loss.

Bus: Closes door. Crawls away. Disappears after five minutes.

Two: Must be fog. Maybe they’ll let me sleep in Starbucks.

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Christmas Miracle . by Matthew A. Hamilton

It happened on December 23. Crowds battled the cold and each other for last minute gifts.

I noticed a woman on the sidewalk. She wore a greasy Notre Dame sweatshirt. She was holding an empty can. However, she remained happy, smiled at everyone who walked past.

“Sir,” she said, “please help me.”

“Don’t have,” I said. I held out my hands.

I began to walk away. As I did she said: “Why is that?”

“Look,” I said. “I’m sorry, but I was recently laid off. Philip Morris. I was an accountant there.”

“Sorry to hear. “Interview today?”

“Yes, how did you guess?”

“You’re dressed nice. And don’t worry about the job.”

“I really don’t have any money, you know.”

“I know.”

I was fascinated with this woman, but I also pitied her. Being homeless, how come she wasn’t depressed?

“What is your name?” I said.

“Mable.”

“Matthew. So I was thinking…”

I stopped myself. What am I doing?

I finally got the words out: “Do you want to spend Christmas at my house?” I think my wife and two girls would enjoy meeting you.”

During Christmas dinner, Mable grabbed my wife’s hand and mine. “Your goodness has saved you,” she said.

“My wife and I both went to bed wondering what Mable meant by that.

The next morning Mable was gone. A few days after that, the Capitals hockey team hired me as an account executive.

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Driven Crazy . by Walter Bjorkman

Mayflies decided to hatch on that humid day
at the bus stop where the bus took forever
a frenetic woman, flicking them away
tiny, harmless, but yet lightly
attaching themselves to our skin

At Bottom Dollar, in line behind a woman
with hips and bottom as wide as the Mississippi
groceries for a cavalry, maybe forty pounds of red meat
taking forever, and just at the moment of truth
the last item a carton of 36 Kool-Aid mix packets
that wouldn’t scan, so the cashier scanned
each one individually, and by gawd then her coupons

The bus on the way home never came, or so it seemed
Surprise! I got a seat – Oops, next to a crazy lady
who seemed to think I knew all of her life
and updated me with the same all the way
while a guy with an ipod sang along aloud
and two others couldn’t stop yakkin’ bout nuthin’

Same busdriver I had on the way down, kinda looney himself
liked to drive with no hands and kept asking himself -
in a half empty bus, if there was room for more fares

driving me crazy

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Tough Love . by John Wentworth Chapin

Taped to the front door in an envelope:

Dear Justin,

This morning, you missed your schoolbus for the third time this fall. Dr Pruitt agrees with me that it’s time for something called Tough Love. This Tough Love contract will set up expectations for the future so that we may traverse this rocky path speedily.

CONTRACT
TL EXPECTATION: be on time, each and every day. Yes, extenuating circumstances arise, and no, not that frequently.
TL CONSEQUENCE: sitting and waiting, without a snack.
TL GOAL: managing your time and lessening familial inconvenience.

I locked you out of the apartment today because you inconvenience me when you miss the bus. I have to get you to school, and I end up late for work. I hope that you are similarly inconvenienced. Does being hungry feel worse than Mommy felt this morning? Unlikely – disrespect strikes quite deep. If they don’t cover consequences in your gifted and talented program, you may care to research it.

For you to ponder: how gifted can one be if one can’t manage to catch a bus?

Your Mother,

Ann

PS — We will keep this contract in the sitting room credenza for future reference.

Also, I have a deposition until about 6:30. If nosy Mrs Wong by the elevator asks why you are sitting in the hall, tell her you lost your key.

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Charlie’s Travels . by Michelle Elvy

Charlie Hancock missed the bus. Started walking.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Charlie Hancock boarded the bus, sat in a seat in the back, the same seat he always chose.

He didn’t stop anywhere or talk to anyone, just kept walking.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

He looked around at the familiar faces, the ones he saw every evening on the Number 9, felt a pang of guilt — but only a small pang.

Out past the town line, to where Main Street turned to gravel and then dirt.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

He remained calm as the bus came to a stop at the corner of Pine. He slid down low in his seat and waited for the next passenger.

He came to a field, sat under the shade of a large oak and began to cry.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Sweat beaded his brow as he watched the man board the bus — this man whom he’d planned to follow home and shoot for all the right reasons.

He pulled out the gun, tossed it far as he could, forsaking revenge.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

But on this night the man was carrying a bundle which cooed and smiled while he paid the driver.

Then Charlie wiped his brow, stood up and walked toward the grassy spot where the gun had fallen. There’s always tomorrow, he thought. Tomorrow I might not miss the bus.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

And Charlie, losing all resolve for all the right reasons, decided then and there against revenge.

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The editors at 52|250 would like to say thanks to Bernard Heise for his photograph, Public Transportation in Ensenada.

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