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Feb 182012

Simon Sylvester

So I pick him up from the Camberwell depot, depot, and he’s there with his flat cap and his dreads and his fingerless gloves, leather for better grip, see, mouthing off with all that niggatalk, but I don’t dig his vibe. Not at all, man. I reckon he tries too hard. I reckon he be days away from being busted. He’s all about the C, and it makes him too loud, too proud, comes before a fall. So my mum always says, anyway. His head’s big enough without that shit. He’s on the other side of the perspex, bulletproof, bombproof, batproof, and I’m only taking him from Camberwell Green to Champion Grove, but he’s killing my buzz and I need to concentrate focus focus. He’s actually trying to rap at me. He can’t rap. He can’t rap for shit. What’s that. What is that shit. Some shit about his missus, some shit about his job. Well I tell you something, G, this is the best job in the world. There ain’t nothing else like it. And you know what I tell you it’s a relief when we get to the stop and he gets off, all like, later, Holmes, see you round, let’s have a smoke some time and I’m muttering yeah WHATEVER as Gabriel minces off into the dark of the estate and some tubby white girl gets on with her Oyster card. I swear I fucking dream in beeps. One day they’ll replace me with a robot. She is somewhat broad amidships why don’t you lose some fucking weight, hey? Then maybe somebody gonna throw you a bone. Sure to check my mirrors, watching for those cyclists come out of nowhere, I wait till she’s halfway up the stairs then take my foot off the clutch so sudden the whole bus jerks and there’s a banging noise which is her falling ha ha though she’s got enough padding she’ll be fine. Concentrate. Damn if it ain’t like driving in a tunnel. I like it in the dark. Winter is the best of all, gets dark so early, always ask for night shifts for sure. Plus it’s easier to slack off, stop for a puff with the boys at the depot. Depot, depot, depot, stupid word, they don’t give a fuck, always make the books balance whether you’re late or skip out on a run to grab some zees or stop for a puff with the good lads, good lads, good lads, focus. Focus, focus. At the top of Dog Kennel Hill, I check the mirrors and o joy o joy there ain’t nobody at all and a clear run at the hill so I floor the whore, pedal to the metal, you knows it bruv, hog the whole road all the way down, avoiding the pot holes in the so-called bus lane motherfucker then pretty much emergency stop outside Sainsbury’s. There’s passengers gasping, yelling out loud. To the fucking inch. That’s me, man. Focus. I’m all about the focus, focus. The whole fleet ain’t got no one to focus like me. The K helps me for sure, just a pinch at a time, tiny pinch. I like driving in a tunnel. I’m in my little geezer place, my place, no place like it. I am driving up a string, a wire, pulled tight. Pulled his head off, saw the bones, the blood. It’s like I’m on rails, blud, and no shit. You got to know where you’re coming from, don’t matter where you go. Goose Green brings me two slinky white girls in tiny skirts, evening ladies, on you get girls, yeah I love those little giggles. Sexy little underage high school bitches ugh-ugh-ugh for sure. I would tap that. I would bulldoze that. Split them wide open only I ain’t got time for the poon, not at a time like this. I ignore the granny at Northcross Road and don’t need to stop till the Horniman. Horny man. Sexy bitches ugh-ugh. That will do wonders for my time, bruv, wonders. Like five stops or something. I swear I shave the seconds every time I do this route. I love driving the 1-8-5 out. It didn’t mean so much till I found the K. It was just a job before then, but K changes everything. Boy, I tells you. Before this was just a job. Do your time, do your overtime, make your money, piss it away chasing the poon in their little dresses, fat asses, big boobies, ugh-ugh-ugh drop it like it’s hot. But the K makes me dig it. I got me some better things to chase than skirt. I got my great work. Driving matters more. As long as I don’t get no prick distracting me, hey. Concentration innit? Elevated to a higher plane. Get yourself the fuck off my cloud. Stand behind the line, cunt. Oh hello driver can you tell when to get off for Kennington? No, fatty, I can’t. I point at the sign. DON’T TALK TO THE DRIVER, motherfucker, else I tear you a new one. The driver talks to you. Control, bruv. I love this job. I’m at home, here. Counting down minutes till the shift starts, fingering the baggies of my Special K, those adverts always make me laugh out loud, waiting for my tunnel. Girls in red bikinis and breakfast cereals, I would tap that, ugh-ugh-ugh. I is the boss, these little piggies do what I tell them to they better anyway else I sling em off. Get the fuck off my bus, get the fuck off, sorry about the language there folks we shall now resume our route. Gotta inject it. Take it orally and you goes down, bruv, a very long way down indeed, off you go on an epic journey. Lasts longer but that’s no good to me now, is it. Save it for the day off. Smoking is okay but sharp as fuck and I wants to keep my body pure. So you injects it. Not into a vein. That’s just stupid. In the vein it hits you right away, you gotta call in sick. Ain’t no good to man nor beast is you. See you in the morning bruv ha ha. Tell my mum I got a migraine. So you do it in the muscle. Comes on slower, don’t take you so far away. One day, I want to hit a bike. No fucker on my bus but some jakey pissed himself on the top deck, I gonna hit myself a bike. Do it deliberate and slow and careful and stupid like a joke, push the needle deep into my thigh. I run him down ha ha. Saw him at the top of my tunnel, took a hundred slow motion years to hit him. It was sweet, his head came off. I saw the bones, it popped like a plum, fibres in my fist. Call the cops. He didn’t have no lights, officer. He came out of nowhere. Weaving all over. I swerved to miss him, tried to miss him. Nothing you can do about it son. Against the law to cycle without lights, ain’t it, yes that’s right nothing you could have done about it. They’re idiots, mate. They got all these cameras on the inside of the bus, ain’t got nothing shows the outside. I been waiting for months to do it, the idea a cancer, cyclists every day need themselves a lesson teaching. Overtake me. Just try it. Undertake me again, motherfucker. Just you fucking try it. This is the bus lane, my lane. Push you into oncoming traffic ugh-ugh-ugh how’s about that then ha ha. Kezbar, Ketso, Hoss, Kowbell. Take all the overtime I can get, they’re always recruiting. I saw his head come off. Every night I got this dream of the windscreen which is imploding and the wind tears through me, just me and my bus and the tunnel forever to heaven while all around me the streetlamps turn to fire and my mum recites the gospel and my hands shine through to the bone.

[This piece originally appeared in Smoke 16.]

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