True Story

9 October 2019 – I’m sitting on the bus in a not-best part of town. The Grizzled Old Guy opposite turns to the Matronly Lady next to him, and says:

I want to kill every person on this bus. Bus driver too. Everyone. Can you control me?

She takes a beat, and calmly observes:

It is against the law to kill people.

They fall silent.

Next stop, a young woman gets on with a baby stroller. GOG gets up, steps aside, makes room.

Stop after that, he pulls the cord, moves to the door. Just before stepping down, he turns back, and says:

Thank you, driver.

I think:

What a short story Araneus could make from this!

(It’s all yours, my WordPress Antipodean friend…)

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12 Comments

  1. Silver Donald Cameron

     /  9 October 2019

    Vancouver is a parallel universe.

    Love Don

    Reply
    • I quite like the thought of a mass murderer who stays his hand because — ohmigawd — he suddenly learns it is illegal.

      Reply
  2. Well, it is. Illegal I mean, unless you join a military somewhere that is doing that sort of thing, and it’s still wrong it’s just you probably won’t have to answer for it. U.N. thanks for nothing. And who knows, it was just a conversation.
    I know someone who tells cashiers she wants to murder her mother and husband but she doesn’t want to go to jail laughing. She is really stressed. They both are really sick and demanding. Her life is just looking after them and the house and occassionally getting out to do some shopping and blowing off steam with a friend, well, me actually. She does a good job but it is hard and the sick can be quite unkind, quite angry, they can see those looking after them as just another part of the loss of autonomy or not realizing they are being ungrateful and bad tempered.
    And having someone to talk to, like the old guy with the “matronly” woman, that is a blessing. Thoughts and feeling come and go, they can be very dark and yet, like thick clouds are mostly made of nothing. Having someone to blow off steam with can make all the difference.
    And good gun laws…

    Reply
    • Yes. I did, and do, feel for that man, caught between his rage and his inherent thoughtfulness for others. But I also felt for that woman who, like the rest of us, didn’t know whether he was just expressing his feelings or was about to pull out a gun and take action. She honoured him by staying calm, being non-judgmental and quiet of voice, and listening. Still, it was courageous of her. If he’d been next to me, and had turned to me with that intensity, I’d have been out of that seat immediately and off at the next stop. Because, sometimes, it doesn’t stay just talk. And there’s no way to know in advance. So under all the circs, I’m glad she was the person next to him, and he got to work through that moment safely and with relative dignity.

      Reply
  3. What a moment – or two. If your friend doesn’t do anything with it, you have done enough just by setting it down straight. Sometimes, embellishment just gets in the way. 😉

    Reply
  4. The power in this encounter lies with the older lady. I’ve met her (or someone just like her), they have seen so much of life that such things are just a blip on the radar. She spoke to him as one would a child — pointing out the reality from the fantasy.
    I once watched a woman in her early forties deal with an obviously deranged young man at a petrol station. We were travelling fro Adelaide back to Melbourne and had stopped for fuel and a rest. The young man swooped in on an old bicycle (probably had lost his license to drive) and started berating the woman (for no reason). She had two young children with her. She stood quite still (as I was looking for a tyre iron in the boot of my car!!) eventually the angry young man rode off, and she headed in to pay for her fuel. I spoke to her and told her that I was very impressed with the way she read the situation (I was a basketball referee for two decades, and you get very good at reading dangerous situations). I told her that she was not alone (a couple of other blokes, as well as me, were heading her way) and she said she did not notice us. I asked her how she was able to remain so calm. Her answer stays with me now, all these years later. “He didn’t know me, so why would I be upset by his words and his behaviour.” Wow! And she meant what she said; she wasn’t ‘putting on a brave face’. Being a man, I might have reacted differently, but maybe not. I’ve been in a similar situation (but a bit less intense) and I managed to talk the young person down. I was seriously concerned, but I kept my calm and determined exterior intact.

    Wise older ladies appear in my books from time to time.
    The most recent occurrence appears in YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS.

    As for your story — I wonder what happened after the man got off the bus?
    I wonder who the lady told her story to.
    Did the man make it through the week? It sounds like he was on the edge.
    I will give your story some thought and see what I can come up with.
    Thank you for the plug — always appreciated.
    Terry

    Reply
    • what fun – an what a good story came out of it – plus a couple of book sales, I hear!

      Reply
      • It was fun, and done without any expectations (except for your approval), so the book sales were a welcome surprise.

  1. The Number 58 Bus | araneus1

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