Bradleyís car had broken down outside the convenience store, where heíd just purchased the daily paper, using most of his change. Heíd run out of the house without his wallet. The engine would turn over, but simply wouldnít start. A sign on the nearby telephone pole told him that the local bus stopped there. It was only a matter of waiting until the bus came, so he leaned against the pole and began to read the paper. When he reached home, heíd arrange for the car to be towed to his mechanicís garage.

Twenty minutes later, the almost empty bus drew to the curb and he hopped aboard. A chubby, red-faced driver in a rumpled uniform looked right through him as he shut the door. Bradley fished through his pockets for the proper fare. However, he came up a nickle short. He explained the problem to the driver, who curtly informed him, "Fareís the same for everyone, pal."

Bradley was shaken by the nasty tone of voice and adamant response. He looked toward the three passengers to see if anyone was listening. They were paying no attention, apparently focused on the scenes outside the windows. "Look," he continued, "Iíll pay you back tomorrow, if you wonít give me a break. I left home without my wallet, and my car broke down there on the corner." He gestured toward the disabled car several feet away at the curb, beyond the bus stop.

"Sorry, pal, no discounts. Pay the fare or get off the bus." The uniformed tyrant stared Bradley in the eye, clearly on a power trip. Bradley wondered if the fellowís hemorrhoids were bothering him, after sitting and jouncing over potholes all day. By now, one of the passengers, an attractive young woman, in the third seat back, was concerned that the vehicle hadnít moved on. She strained to hear the conversation.

"Geez, itís only a nickle," muttered Bradley. "Five lousy cents." His eyes locked with those of the young woman. Then he rolled them for her benefit. She didnít react at all.

"Hey, how this?" Bradley suggested, "I live three miles ahead in the 12000 block. How about you let me off a block before that, say in the 11000s, and Iíll walk the rest of the distance. That way I wonít be getting the benefit of the full fare that Iíd be entitled to if I paid the whole amount."

The driver thought this over for a few seconds and then asked, "How do I know that you donít actually live in the 11000 block, and thatís where you really want to get off?" He grinned slightly, smirked actually, and added, "Tell you what, my friend, let me see your driverís license so I can check out your address."

By habit, Bradley reached to his hip pocket, but remembered that he didnít have his wallet or license with him. "Hell, I just told you that I forgot my darn wallet, for crying out loud." Bradley felt his face heating up, as his temper flared. "Hey, itís a nickle, just a stinkiní nickle!" The driver leaned forward and pulled a lever, reopening the bus door.

By this time, the woman was fully attentive to the interchange. From the corner of his eye, Bradley saw her slide from her seat and move in their direction. He turned to see her removing a coin from her purse. She handed it to the driver, saying, "This should take care of it." Then, smiling, she said to Bradley, "Come, sit next to me."

As the bus pulled from the curb, Bradley couldnít thank her enough, but he was a bit confused, as she withdrew an official looking pad from her purse. She also flashed a police badge, and with a stern set to her lips, said, "Now, as I understand it, youíve been operating a motor vehicle without a driverís license in your possession. Further, itís plain to see that your vehicle is parked too close to the corner. In fact, your rear bumper extends beyond the yellow painted curb." She then asked him, "Your full name, please? And Iíd like to see some kind of identification, if you donít mind, sir."

Bradley merely stared at her, his mouth agape, until Detective Marie Petty began chuckling at her own little joke. It took a moment before Bradley caught the twinkle in her blue eyes.

THE END




  © RickMack (rmrickmack@aol.com)




Watch these pages for more poems and stories by RickMack.
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The Christmas Doll

Meltdown

Winter Fields

Just A Simple Christmas

How Does A Cup Of Cocoa Sound?

Happy Holidazed

Winter Warm

December's Shoreline


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