Backseat Meeting (or Fate)
They met on the backseat of a bus in Southampton.
The bus slowed down and he stuck his head out into a chilly October wind. The city lights, now mere dusk-flickers of all-hope-is-gone, were fading fast, chomped up by the air-polluted, airbrushed teeth of a tampon ad teenaged model on the side of the bus with her hands between photo-shopped legs; they protruded from under her Marilyn Monroe skirt like chopsticks held between the fingers of a Scottish shipyard worker.
The driver pulled a lever and the doors shhhhhed open, sighing for the fucked-up diesel engine to gurgle a sputter-burp.
She got on, lifting high over her neck the tattered collar of a her jacket and her paid-for ticket, but bus drivers on this side of town don’t take kindly to passengers; he pulled away before she sat down, and she stumbled down the aisle towards him.
The emphysema-engine coughed itself back to life.
The letters of the EMERGENCY WINDOW sticker were flashing slower now, in tune with her uneven balance-now! footsteps; in tune with the dribs and drabs of oncoming traffic lights that shot out like phantom spider webs through the back window-grime and covered the fumes crawling through the cracks in the glass like phantom fingers inviting her to sit down next to him.
When the bus crossed the wrong side of the tracks into that part at the edge of town where the dark side of midnight changes the meaning of a simple favour to you’d better do what I say, boy, or you’re well and truly fucked, the faded smile of the tampon ad teenage model lit up when he offered to share his cup of instant noodles, and she her dreams.