Wednesday 26 August 2009

BUS STOP - by Christopher Grant


Five in the morning. The bus stop is three minutes from my house. I come out the front door.

"Fuck!" It's muggy as shit. Yesterday, I could have worn a winter coat, blowing smoke like I was. Today, I should be going to work naked. Gonna need a shower when I get there.

It's getting near to fall and the sun doesn't come up for another hour and a half, so it's pitch black out here. Only the clouds and the heat and the dark and I inhabit this world.

My luck, the bus is probably running late. I get to the stop, look at my watch, illuminated with a press of a button on its side. Seven minutes, ten minutes, who the fuck knows when it's coming.

There's very little traffic at this time of the morning and it's rare that anyone else is out here with me. But today is a little different. While there's no traffic, I can make out a shadow approaching where I'm standing.

Blond frosted hair. That's about the only thing that identifies the shadow. It stops just off my right shoulder. I've never had anyone else stand at this stop with me and, at five in the morning, in pitch dark, I'm getting paranoid.

The shadow gives me justification.

"Don't do anything stupid," it says. The voice sounds like it might belong to a woman, a little higher pitched than you'd attribute to a man. "All I want is the cash."

I've got a little over a hundred dollars on me. Lunch money, magazine and book cash. I was planning on getting flowers for Jeannie on the way home.

"Turn towards me real slow," the shadow says.

When I get in the position the shadow wants me, I look directly at the gun, not the face of my mugger. The piece of metal is so dark it looks like an extension of the shadow's arm.

The shadow leans into me and that's when I decide to make my move. I grab for the gun, try to pry it from the shadow's fingers, try to at least twist it away from being pointed in my direction. The mugginess of the morning is making that difficult, my fingers slipping over sweaty skin. With my other hand, I try to shove the jaw and head of the shadow upward, trying to hyper-extend its entire body.

I manage to use my leg to trip the shadow backwards and down to the concrete. Fortunately, I land on top of the shadow, forcing the air out of its lungs as we hit. The gun is easier to get at now and, soon, it's in my hand.

I put the gun to the shadow's head.

"Don't," it begs me.

With my face so close to its face, I can see that it's a young woman. Even in the dark, I can see the fear in her eyes.

"Why me?" I ask her, still holding the gun to her skull.

"Nothing personal," she says. "If not you, someone else."

The bus decides to show up just then, the orange flasher coming on as it pulls into the stop.

BIO: Christopher Grant is the editor and publisher of A Twist Of Noir. For the record, he has never been mugged at a bus stop. His fiction can be found at Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers, Powder Burn Flash and The Flash Fiction Offensive.


  1. The randomness of victim selection.
    Good stuff, Chris.

  2. The bus turned up so he couldn't even shoot her and say it was self-defense. Just wasn't his day.

    Snappy piece Chris, nice work.

  3. Another dark, twisted day in the life of Christopher Grant . . .nice work

  4. Another reason to hate hot weather, and better than most. Good one, Christopher.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

    Yes, Al, this is another reason to hate hot weather. And that part about being muggy and the day before feeling like winter was kulled from actual events.

    Monday, I was blowing smoke at five in the morning, out for my daily walk. Yesterday, muggy, sweating my ass off.

    Michael, you know about these kinds of Minnesota "summers" (note that sarcasm).

    That bus showing up really put a dent in his plans, Lee. Originally, the mugger was supposed to get shot in the struggle for the gun. Don't know what happened when I sat down and wrote this in a white heat but she didn't die.

    Randomness of story selection, Col. The whole story came to me yesterday morning during that walk when I saw a woman, frosted blonde hair, standing at the mouth of an alley, looking into said alley. She then turned and looked at me and started to walk in my direction. I kept walking in her direction and listened to her play with something plastic in her pocket. Sounded like a bag but who know what it was.

    We passed each other without incident or words exchanged but it was really interesting how much of a catalyst it was.

    Strange how stories fall in your lap sometimes.

  6. And, of course, I can't spell today, either, typing kulled instead of culled. But there you have it.

  7. Solid piece of every day noir. I love the shadows that creep around in the corners of life and lurk waiting to pop out and say boo; they're there even if we don't like to admit it

  8. For a moment there I thought Greta had come to kick his ass. Good twist, it got me.

  9. Now, see, that's just making me sad that I didn't twist it that way, Matt.

  10. Aah, well, I'm sure Greta will be making a come back soon. 'Women want to be her, men want to be with her,' now where have i heard that said before?

  11. Actually, Matt, today while at the laundromat, I sat there writing a Greta story from the perspective of someone that owes and has to deal with her.

    I might have to tweak it a bit but it was pretty interesting writing about her from other character's perspective.

  12. If you don't mind me joining the conversation, I found myself desperately sad for the woman - it's a junkie reaction: "Nothing personal," she says. "If not you, someone else."

    How awful to be waiting, not even knowing what you're gonna do with that gun hanging low in your hand, or who you're going to do it to. Just depends on who comes along at the wrong time.

    Just playing Devil's Advocate. I loved it.

  13. I loved the fact that you saw it from the woman's point of view, Lily.

    You can so easily forget that there's another character in this story and that she has a past, present and, thanks to the bus, a future, too.

  14. Nice one, yet again, Chris. At first I thought this could be Greta but then she would never let a man get the upper hand! Top stuff.