A SHORT STORY. READ QUICKLY. THEN READ SLOWLY.
The bus arrived at 12:53 pm.
By then a small crowd had gathered to await its arrival. So much jollity and exchange of banter was going on at the bus stop that I almost forgot to get on line. Not everyone who waited was talking or happily laughing. I had laughed earlier when I was on the other bus before switching to the 12:53 which I realized would take me closer to my home.
The 12:53 began boarding.
The new passengers were no longer laughing and carousing but had become quiet and almost somber. Fares in hand we climbed on. Not sure of how much I needed to pay, I opened my coin-filled palm and extended my hand to the fare collector who took a shiny silver English two-and –sixpence piece and gave me back some change. I did not count the change. I was surprised at the returns and thought that I had a good deal.
I really didn’t know where I was going although in the back of my mind it had something to do with going home.
Earlier on I had a dream that I had had a very bad accident and lost all of my limbs except my left hand. Bloody, but not painful, I stared incredulously at my impossible torso much to the disbelief of the nurses who tended me. I demanded to see my right hand. They hesitated a bit at the strange request, but I insisted.
From a little below the elbow, the fingers were all black and curled as if in a loose fist. The palm appeared drained and without pallor. It was unusual to see my hand from that vantage point but I recognized it very well. In the dream I recalled how I was aware of the medics cutting off the hand. The pain was minimal. I had no recollection of the legs. That must have been too quick to register a pain marker. Strangely enough I didn’t ask to see the legs. My one concern was learning to write with my left hand as I said goodbye to the lack-luster right hand. It had now become ‘the right hand’. Lovingly I gazed one last time and beckoned to the amazed-looking nurses that they could do what they must. I had other things to ponder.
Good heavens, I was a talking, thinking mess.
On the bus each passenger paid a fare and looked anxiously around to find a seat that suited them. I looked around for the perfect seat also and realized seats were limited.
Before I could make a decision a very kind young man rose from his seat and offered it to me. I was delighted at the gesture. I could now hold the large brown envelope I carried more securely on my lap. By the way, I had dropped the remaining coins in the envelope. I moved to take the seat when the shrill ring of a telephone dragged me back to the first dimension. The bus vanished, the seat vanished. All limbs in place. My torso was draped naked under red, warm, flannel sheets topped by a white goose down comforter.
The phone continued to scream like a hungry child.
“Hello”, I was groggy. The dream was still before me.
“Who the heck is disturbing me at this time of morning?”
Now I will never ever know where I was going, what was in the envelope, did I ever learn to write with my left hand? Was it even me in the accident?
I was now completely grumpy at the loss of future information. The only thing to do was to compose myself and make my way to the kitchen where my battered percolator waited for me. After all it was eight thirty am.
The percolator smiled as only percolators could. It was happy that it knew how to make the telephone ring. It was smug in its thinking,
“Boss was having a nightmare in the early morning, what a good job I did. I just don’t have the capacity to know which coffee she’ll pick this morning, or I would load my basket for her; here she comes, I love my boss”