Monday, January 07, 2013

On the Newcomb bus

The bus leapt the predictable bump in the lower end of the suburban street. 'Some drivers race up here like a bat in hell,' said a small woman with bright pink lipstick.
The bus was half-full, surprising on a very hot morning, but jobs had to be done, doctors visited, bills paid.
'Yep,' said a woman with fat arms and wearing a sleeveless cotton shift in candy stripes. 'Some driver don't wait until the new passengers sit down.'
The small woman with pink lipstick said, 'They try to kill me, some of those drivers do.' 
Others muttered in assent.
The woman in a candy-striped dress suddenly said, 'Paris would be nice in the spring.'
The small woman said, 'I've been there. Paris isn't so marvellous at all. The people are rude. And it smells.'
Candy frowned. 'But there's more. Chartres. Montmartre.' Then crouched back into the vinyl. She doesn't really know at all, and there she is again, in the past. Should have gone there when she was twenty-three. The plan  to meet other art students had failed.
The small woman went on. 'The train stations smell of urine.'
'But the women are elegant, even though both men and women look like their pet dogs.'  Foolish remarks often come out of her mouth as the dementia sets in, thinks Candy.
Another past-her-prime woman, bland and with grey hair pulled tightly back sat nearby. 'I'm going to France, ' she said quietly. 'I’m selling the car. My children think it's foolish, but I want to go.'
Candy looked at this woman who looked as if she wouldn't hurt a fly, and wouldn't go anywhere either. 'To Paris?'
'The countryside.'
'The rural people are better,' chirped in the small woman.
'I'll go with a group.  I don't speak French,' said the woman in grey.
Candy's mind swirled. Monet, Pissaro. Van Goph. Gauguin.  She was a painter too those days.  'So what do you really want to see. The cathedrals?'
'Oh no. The Tour de France.'
The small woman pursed her pink lips. '’The people are very rude in Paris.'’
The grey woman peered at her. 'I'd give back more. I can swear better than any wharfie.'
That was a surprise, and of course they were all in the past. There aren't any wharfies any more now, what with all those brightly painted containers.
'I wonder where the bus will stop this time,' said Candy. 'You never know.'
The driver swung the wheel and turned left into Bellarine Street.
Oh, they would be going to Yarra street. And good, the bus would continue to Geelong West, her destination to purchase groceries now there wasn't a supermarket in the city.
The small woman and the grey woman stepped carefully from the bus intend upon their own journeys. Candy reminisced. Would it have made a difference - going to Paris? Instead of Fiji?


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