23 May 2004

With no real place to go she found herself being ushered off the last bus at its last stop. The driver was not aggressive as he guided her down the steps but he was firm. He held her arms from behind and partly carried, partly directed her to the door. She was so passive and limp that he found himself pressing his groin into her backside in an attempt to keep her moving forward. He was a head taller than her so he could smell the essence of the early morning shampoo in her long, dark hair. Her arms felt thin and her buttocks rubbed against him and she smelt of honeysuckle.

“C’mon love, you’re gonna have to go. I need to get home.”

She did not reply. He had taken them both to the door of the depot and out onto the pavement. He stopped and then wondered if she would collapse if he let her go. He slowly released his grip on her arms and she started to wobble. He quickly grabbed her arms again and looked about. The street was wet and empty, except for the houses and trees and streetlights that made everything look jaundiced. He looked at the wall of the depot and considered trying to prop her up against that and making his escape.

“C’mon love, can you stand up on your own? I can’t hold you all night.”

“Mmph.”

“What?”

“Mmipah.”

“I can’t understand you. How about calling a cab, eh? Have you got a phone?”

“Mincal.”

“Mincal? Minicab? Yeah, call a mincab. Look, I’ve got a phone in the office. Howabout you wait here and I’ll go grab it?”

“Mincal.”

“Yeah, whatever love, I’ll just go and get it. Can you hang on to this lamppost for a minute?”

“Michael.”

“What…?”

“Michael.”

“How did you…what…do you know me?”

“Michael. Mike.”

He turned her around and guided her back inside the depot and towards the office. That was how they met, about six years ago. With his help she weaned herself off the painkillers and got heavily into him instead. He got a job as a radio DJ and they moved to Santa Monica which is where they had their first kid. They called him Badger after the name of the bus firm.

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