Fall has arrived, with ghost, goblins and spooky stories. I love this time of year with the crisp air, the crisper apples and the swooshing fireworks of changing leaves. It’s a good time to be a storyteller because, even more than in other seasons, stories seem to find us.
I was walking home the other evening when an older man sitting on a bench called out to me. “Lady,” he said in a voice roughened by age and alcohol, “Lady, I have to tell you something.” I know an invitation to wonder when I see it, so I waited and listened. Sure, it could have been awful. It could have been crude or painful or just a bid for another drink, but I would always rather hope that there is something else possible.
“Lady, I just need to tell someone this. I was right here waiting for the bus, it’s time for me to get home, like I always do. I’d finished my drink,” he waved to a paper bag beside him, “and was hoping it would be here soon cause I had to pee. I looked down the street to see if the bus was coming. I always do that even though I know it won’t come any faster. You know how you do that? You look to see if the bus is there even though you know it's gonna be another five minutes? Anyway, there was nothing.
“I sat back down on the bench when all of a sudden there was this huge gust of wind and a big, black bus stopped in front of me. Like one of those tour buses from the 1970s, you know? I sat there looking at it when the door creaked open and a tall, thin guy in a sharp suit stepped out. I used to wear suits like that, long time ago. I couldn't see much behind him, no driver or anything, it's like there was a curtain or something even though I couldn't see one.
“He looked me up and down and asked if I wanted a ride. Now, I may be a drunk but I’m no fool. I asked him if they would let me off at my stop and he just smiled. His teeth were so white I could barely see. I shook my head no.
“He sighed, told me I didn’t know what I was missing, there were ladies on board and a fresh bottle just for me. But I wouldn’t look at him again. Tell you the truth, I wanted to. But I thought if I could wait just a moment longer I would make it. Kind of like the twelve steps but different.
“I heard the door close and there was a rush of hot air, so dry and nasty it burned my eyes, and when I looked up the bus was gone. Look, you can see the tire marks.”
He was right, I could see a skid on the road, a mark that hadn’t been there the day before.
“First thing I thought was a shoulda got on, but I figure it might stop for me again some time. Whaddya think lady, should I’ve gotten on? Think it might come back?”
I looked at him and was about to say something, no doubt something trite, but he stood up. “My bus is here. See you around.”
The city bus pulled away and I noticed he had left his bottle behind.
I don’t know. What do you think I should have said?
If you are interested in this or other stories please contact me. I’d love to tell stories with you.