The Bus Station has become the focus of my latest route. This place, where people congregate and prepare to leave and where they arrive, is now the centre of the trail I have forged here in the City.
I have tried not to stray too far from the Station but this has proved difficult. I need thrust and momentum and my route must allow for this. It has to be big enough and wide enough so that I can keep moving and push myself forward. But wherever I am in the City I am aware of the quickest and most direct way back to the bus terminal. I am always ready in case of an emergency but what that emergency might be I have no idea. But it feels good to have somewhere to head toward and I have tried and tested all of these tributaries, all of the shortcuts.
It is cold and wet tonight. I may perhaps linger a little and wait out the storm, but as I make my way through the terminal, I realise that, yet again, I am pushing against the tide of travellers. They don’t see me and, cocooned in their heavy winter coats, heads down and hunched over their phones, they are hardly aware of each other.
Once clear, I glance back but only fleetingly and there they are, huddled beneath the inadequate plexiglass and I don’t stop. No, I keep going.
There is a window in the early hours when the Bus Station is deserted. The rush hour crowd is long gone and it is a chance for the others, for those who don’t leave, to step in from out of the rain and take shelter. It is our turn to wait.
I walk across the forecourt and the turning area directly in front of the Station. The lights have dropped to an energy saving low level but I spot the young man instantly. He is standing beside a plate glass screen and beneath one of the ‘Stop’ signs. The first buses won’t arrive for at least four or five hours and he is either incredibly late or extremely early.
The man is jittery and anxious and he stares intently at the timetable attached to the pole. He could move into the waiting area and join the others, slumped on the benches and huddled in the corners with their blankets and their dogs and their cans of Special Brew but of course he doesn’t.
I understand it. I feel his fear. It rises in me unbidden, something out of the past that has been buried down deep. It is only a memory but I can taste it again and I want to spit it out and tell the man to fuck off. He raises his head and just momentarily our eyes meet and he flinches. I push past him and join the others, letting him be.
The Bus Station is no longer a beacon, a light I can head toward at night or a place where I can just fleetingly expose myself to a little daytime bustle or I can step into from out of the cold and warm my hands on a polystyrene cup of weak but scalding hot tea
The Station’s usefulness for me is fast fading and yet I am here all of the time now. I stalk its environs and it is hardly ever out of my sight and never clear of my mind. I am haunted by it or more accurately I am the one who haunts the Station. I am an ethereal presence, hovering above the ground, a waft of smoke with no reflection in the glass. But if they looked, if the rush hour regulars really, really looked and not just when they arrive but also when they leave, if they looked back from the windows of their buses, they would see me standing here, still waiting.
Mark Renney lives in the UK. He has had work published in various small press publications, Zines and on-line journals including The Interpreter’s House, Still, Yellow Mama, Unbroken Journal, Weird Mask, RaWNervZ and 365 Tomorrows. Blog: The Brokedown Pamphlet https://markrenney1.Wordpress.com