Gordon Ferris – Cross-town

Gordon Ferris is a Dublin writer living in Donegal for the past thirty six years. He is a member of the Dublin Writers Forum and has had poetry and short stories published in A New Ulster, Hidden Channel and The Galway Review. Most in A New Ulster.


Cross-town

By Gordon Ferris


I left the house and spotted Max standing guard up the top of the street, as usual. I decided to go the in the other direction to avoid him. I do have a slight fear of dogs and will go to all lengths to avoid them. I live in a cul-de-sac, which runs adjacent to the main road, Cappagh Road.

It’s handy because the bus route runs here so I can walk either direction. As I reach the top of the road I can see there is no bus at the terminus so I decide to walk on down to the Church where I will have a choice of two different buses.

Just my luck the rain starts to drizzle. That’s all I need, a soaking before I go on an hour and a half journey. Rain, rain go away, please come back…Ah I forget the rhyme, so, Rain, just fuck off…I get to the church and wait at the surrounding wall between the two bus stops. The nearest shelter is over at the shops so if the bus comes in a hurry, I could miss it.

I don’t want to take a chance so I stay where I am. Eventually after having my blood pressure raised needlessly by the possibility of it raining heavy, and not getting the bus on time, the no 40 arrives quickly.

There’s plenty of room too. I’m on my way…a lot of fuss over nothing. I stay downstairs and haven’t started smoking yet. I don’t like the smoky atmosphere. I sit in the second row on the left hand side of the bus, in front of the area for wheelchairs. I can see everyone entering the bus; the stairs are just to my right. I can see all that’s going on around me so I make myself comfortable and glance out the window.

I can feel myself starting to drift off into my own little world; as a result I can feel my head starting to drop from the motion of and have to force myself to stay awake. It had been a hectic few weeks with the exams. I’m relieved to have them over and done with.

Now I’m just looking forward to earning my few pound’ and getting home tomorrow as early as possible. Then I can hop into the bath and get ready for the dance to meet my girlfriend, well I call her my girlfriend. But we only meet in the dance in Glasnevin every Saturday. Occasionally we would meet on Sunday afternoon and go to the cinema or just go for a walk around Stephens Green.

In Finglas Village a woman laden down with bags of shopping gets on the bus and sits down beside me. Try as I might I just can’t avoid the whiff of her perfume. It seems to get right up my nose and down my throat. I can feel a headache coming on. I stare away from the women, grasping any bit of air from the open window by the seat in front of me.

It’s a relief every time bus stops and the door opens to let people on and off, the chill of the air drifts by me and takes the whiff of your one’s perfume with it. She gets off at Glasnevin cemetery leaving me greatly relieved.

Another ten minutes down the Whitworth Road onto Dorset Street, then onto Blessinton Street leading past the Garden of Remembrance and the Gate Theatre, then terminus around the corner in Parnell Street at the Shakespeare Pub.

Seconds after the bus halt’s I’m walking swiftly down O Connell Street to get to Eden Quay, where the 77 or 77A bus takes me to Tallaght. I can carry out my duties, and get me dinner.

I wait for the bus, again. I waited fifteen minutes this time and spent it people watching. There was a middle aged couple ahead of me at the bus stop. The women wasn’t too happy with her fella, he’s a bit under the weather with the drink. Passing comments to other women as they pass him by, using his Guinness charm, as one does.

“Don’ mind him, he’s a fuckin ejit.” the women said. “Don’t worry we can see that.” one of the women says with her nose up in the air. “You’d wanna watch a seagull doesn’t shite in your mouth, there’s enough coming out of there already.” The women replied daring the loose tongued passer-by to come back.

Thank god she rushes on past avoiding a scene, which there could easily have been; never stick your nose between drunken couples your likely to get it bitten off by both parties.

Thank Christ I can see the bus in the distance making its way towards us. As it approaches people start to get themselves in a favourable position to hop on first. I just hold my position midway and have to settle with a seat upstairs, the lower part being jammed in seconds.

I was just in front of the stairs and had a woman sitting beside me, this time with little perfume. Thank the heavens because it an hour’s journey, a long time to be suffocated by Chanel or whatever the perfumes called, Jays Fluid; that’s what it should be called.

On our way now and before I know it I’m passing Dolphins Barn. I usually have a book with me to pass the time on my Friday journey but forgot it this time. So I immerse myself in the sights, sounds and of course scents of my surroundings, the lingering waft of sweat and the various perfumes radiating off of the women, the Brut dripping off of the men. The faint scent of damp, the smell you get when you leave a wet dishcloth on the draining board overnight.

I think that scent came from the unfortunate man who hopped on at Dolphins Barn. He looked a bit down on his luck; maybe he lost his job and was made homeless, now stuck sleeping rough soaked in the rain. My dad always said we’re all just a month’s wages away from being on the streets, a bit extreme I said but not far off the mark when I thought about it. The other passengers avoided looking in his direction or turned quickly away when he looked in theirs, hoping he didn’t sit beside them, he went on down the back and I thought no more of him.

The bus is jam packed so there’ll only be stops for people getting off now. I go off into my own world again. Mostly vacant thoughts, little day dream memories of walks across green fields and narrow streams small enough to jump across, rivers we used to swim in and walls of observatories where we sat as children, hesitating before being egged on by the dominant silverback forcing us to jump down into the orchard and gather as many apples as possible, in as short a time as possible.

He of course stayed on the wall keeping Ello and giving instructions. We came out of it nerves rattling and shaking with fear, although when we reached safety there was a tremendous feeling of exhilaration.

Suddenly I noticed out of my periphery something that had me worried. We were passing Crumlin Hospital which only left twenty minutes before my stop, and I couldn’t possibly get off the bus in my present condition. I’d be a laughing stock having to walk in front of the passengers with an erection, where the fuck did this come from.

The last thing on my mind was sex, it isn’t supposed to happen like this; it’s supposed to happen in the company of beautiful women not from the motion of a bus.

I’m going to have to get rid of it, but how. Mrs Cleary, the neighbour from across the street. The evil presence in the corner of the living room window, you can only spot her by the movement of the curtains. Think of her that should work, but no, it can’t be. Fuck! It’s getting worse, how can this be.

I have to shake this off, not on the bus though, that’s not right. Count backwards, yes that will work, but no nothing seems to be working and we’re on the Walkinstown Roundabout going onto the Greenhills road now.

I tried everything but alas, all my efforts were in vain. This was the erection to end all erections, inspired by the number 77a. A few moments later when we reached Tallaght village, me still doubled over with the shame, the drunken couple come to life again getting off the bus. They disturb everybody by bumping against everyone.

The women behind pushing her man and him apologising for their behaviour, in a whispering voice in case she heard. To my amazement when things settled down, I discovered that so had I; settled down that is, a bit of distraction is all I needed.

We’re at the last stop now on Old Bawn Road; I hop off and cross the road to my sister’s house on Millbrook Lawns. I stroll up the driveway, there’s a slight incline, their Morris Minor’s in the driveway and I notice a Volkswagen beetle parked up outside the gate.

Dave my brother in law does nixers on cars at the weekend to make ends meet. The Volkswagen is probably one of these cars. He also play’s in a blues band now and then. He does gig’s at least once a week, sometimes more. Dave comes in handy for weddings, parties etc. in the family.

 

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