The Bus Stop | Evan Rothman

    I sat down on the bench at the bus stop on the corner of N. Virginia and East Plaza. I wasn’t planning to get on, but I needed a place to sit while waiting for some of my friends from high school to get here. The girls and I were supposed to get together last weekend, but we ended up postponing until today. I was flying out on Sunday, so this was my last chance to see them before I went back to college for second term. The stop was grimy, but it was no worse than any of the others in this shit town. The post that marked the stop was covered in flyers for locksmiths and handymen.
    A bus rumbled to a stop, and the driver opened the door. She was wearing one of those white nametags with blue lettering the city makes all the bus drivers wear, not that anyone ever used their names. She looked out at me expectantly, and when she realized that I wasn’t getting on, she closed the doors and glared: She looked angry for her time being wasted. 
    A couple minutes later, I saw a man in an overcoat walking over to the bus stop. The coat looked like the kind a twenty-something businessman might buy, hoping he’d have to replace it in a few years once his career was going places. It was charcoal grey and looked too long in the sleeves; it probably hadn’t been tailored. This man looked forty, and his face was covered in stubble that he probably should have shaved the night before. He was lugging a black, two-wheeled suitcase behind him, and it looked like the one wheel was busted; it kept spinning in circles instead of just staying straight. 
    “You just missed the last one.”
    “I guess it’ll be another hour until the next one then.”
    He sat down awkwardly at the far end of the bench, as if he were trying to make me not feel uncomfortable. He pulled out what looked to be an old blackberry, complete with a little ball to scroll instead of a touch screen. I pulled out my phone to check the time, but ended up scrolling through Instagram instead. 
    “Do you mind watching my bag for a moment?” He said. “I like to get a coffee before I head to the airport.”
    “Sure, you can just leave it there, and I’ll keep an eye on it.”
“Thanks. Would you like anything while I’m in there?” 
    “A green tea if you don’t mind.”
    “Cream and sugar?”
    “Just a sugar and a stir. Thanks.”
    “No problem.”
    I watched him as he walked into the cafe and got in line. He was behind a bunch of people, and the barista looked like she was struggling. I saw her fumble a cup while trying to write a customer’s name. Must be new. Normally, the person behind the counter was some cute guy; that was half the reason my friends and I chose to meet in front of the shop today. 
    I check my phone again. The time read 5:45. No messages. My friends were running late. 
Probably Trip, I thought. Trip is always running late. 
    I would have driven down with Brie, but she bailed last minute. Something about needing to finish a paper before going back to school. I had to drive down on my own. Everyone else lived on the other side of town. 
    I parked in the garage across the street and hoped to pay the two-hour fee, but it looked like that wouldn’t be the case. The next bracket was for five hours and cost twice as much; I wouldn’t be down here nearly that long. 
    After a while, I spied the man walking out of the coffee shop with two cups in hand. He walked back and sat down next to me as he handed me the paper mug. 
    He nodded. We sat there for a few minutes in silence. He pulled his blackberry out again and was looking through some emails while drinking his coffee. 
     The bus arrived, and he looked over, thinking I hadn’t noticed.
    “Bus is here.”
    “Oh, I know. I’m just waiting here for some people.”
    “Oh, well it was nice meeting you then.” 
He smiled politely, but I could see the twinge of disappointment that crept onto his face. 
    I watched as he got on the bus and took his seat. I saw him glance back at me, as the bus started to move, and he rolled out of sight.
     I just shook my head and smiled.