From Point A to Point B

by Alex Moisi


From point A to point B there are three main car roads, seven detours, one highway and two shortcuts; three trains with one stop and two trains with four stops, eight buses and one direct plane. Would you like a ticket?

“Yes please, on the seven-thirty bus.”

“Ninety thirty-seven, please.”

“My! The prices sure went up nowadays didn’t they?”

The old woman behind the bulletproof window looked at the little man in front of her with a blank stare claiming I don’t care. I’m here to smile and recommend the most expensive route and you are stepping outside the standard conversation.

“Mister, you want the ticket or not? There’s a line.”

Ninety dollars and some change changed owners and Mr....

“Sorry! Hey Mister! Mr... Andrew, Bob Andrew? Still need your credit card?”

...Mr. Andrews, Bob Andrews was on his way to the seven-thirty bus.

From point A to point B you can take eight different buses, which all have different timetables and different prices. From the $50.45 — no air conditioning, no toilet, no reserved places — to the luxury of $204.50, $206 including the customary tip for the driver.

Of course, most people just travel with the $90.37, $100 and the always popular $80.50. You could say within this price range you could find the standard material for a modern middle-class drama. Anything from Italians to Catholic priests and double personality freaks; just choose.

“Sorry is this seat taken?”

Of course most of them don’t like to chat, so you get:

Ma, si!

“I’m sorry son, I travel with God, and God does not want his servants to be crammed, may He bless us all!”

“Get lost, dude!”

Sometimes you may have the luck of a huge woman getting off and you can grab her seat next to the window. Now, let me explain, you see, if you have the seat next to the window, nobody is going to sit next to you (where “you” means a middle-aged, balding and somewhat fat white man named Bob Andrews) unless they are:

  1. in dire need of a seat
  2. going to steal your money
  3. very sociable

The guy who appeared next to Bob seemed to be none of the above.

“Can I sit here?”

In order to picture this guy’s voice you would need to go outside and drive to the next forest. Now this works best in autumn, but don’t blame yourself: it will work any time, just not as well. Throw away any food, maps, knives or life-saving-in-case-of-getting-lost-in-the-forest devices you might have, run like an idiot for about twenty minutes until you are completely lost, yell for another twenty minutes and feel completely abandoned and without any hope. Then imagine you hear a voice from nowhere saying something stupid like: “Hum, hum, I’m smarter than the average bear.” Draw your feelings and, voilà, you got the picture of this guy’s voice.

“Can I sit here?”

For a few seconds, Bob thought about taking a trip into a dark forest and remembered Yogi the hungry bear, a classic of his childhood.

“Oh my, why yes, I mean no... You can, ah... you may sit here if you want.”

Even in the case you would be lost in a dark forest the guy now sitting next to Bob didn’t seem like somebody you would happily hug and thankfully follow to a warm cottage. He had more iron pierced in various artificial orifices around his shaved head than a medium-sized car; he wore a black leather coat and the yellow lion-encircled-in-flames tattoo on his neck seemed to prove him as an active member of some nut gang or other.

“My name is Bob Andrews.”

“My name is Gabriel Christ, with a T. Most people call me Mush.”

“Mush?”

“As in mushroom.”

In the animal world, when two males meet they can smell within seconds which one is the most aggressive, which is the most intelligent, what to do and what not to do, thus eliminating long embarrassing pauses in conversation. In our evolved world, with soaps and sprays, this simple method fails, leaving one with the only alternative of turning to a magazine in order to avoid the dangerous waters of free conversation.

“Mr. Andrews, you shouldn’t read right now.”

The skinhead sat in a stiff way, a few millimeters away from the back of the bench, looking straight forward. One could not tell if he just opened his mouth or not.

“Pardon me?”

“If you read that article about investments you will find a phrase which will haunt you the next seven months driving you to invest in the stock market for plums, which will collapse on the 4th of August next year, making you lose $43,243 U.S. You will commit suicide by drowning. I could give you the rest of the details like the location and the exact contents of the suicide note, but they are most disturbing.”

For a second, Bob considered the possibility of a nut-case traveling on the seven-thirty bus from point A to point B. It was not a possibility, it was more of a certitude. The only question was how high was the probability of the nut-case sitting next to him.

“Now you are thinking about the probability of a madman sitting next to you,” the skinhead added.

Bob looked at the pale face looking at him. “My God, can you read minds?”

“Mr. Andrews, be serious, I do not possess such an ability. I can only tell you what your most probable reaction is going to be considering your past experience, you as you are now, and your future.”

“My God, you know my future?”

“I know a lot of things about you, but that is of no importance at this point.”

“What is of more importance at this point?” Bob asked surprised.

“That is such a typical reply... Always concerned about yourself, but then again, it’s typical for most humans,” the skinhead called Mush responded.

“Are you some kind of pshi... pshy...”

Psychologist (psychologist [sahy-kol-uh-jist], noun) Someone who studies how people’s minds work and how this affects their behavior. © Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2002

“...psychologist?” Mush finished the question for Bob. “No, I’m not, even if I do observe people and try to help as much as possible.”

“Oh, the good Samaritan kind of guy?”

“That is not the point.”

For yet another second Bob looked at the pale face next to him kind of scared to ask, but it’s in the nature of man to be defeated by curiosity, otherwise we would still marvel at the sight of fire burning our primitive shelters away.

“Then what is the point?” he finally asked.

The guy turned slowly and gave Bob the deepest gaze Mr. Andrews had ever experienced.

“In twenty minutes you must jump from this bus. I must convince you to do it.”

The little black and yellow bee is a marvel of God’s genius. Theoretically its small transparent wings couldn’t keep the fuzzy body in the air but nobody told that to the bee. So it flies around struggling against air currents, a true wonder at... SPLASH and the driver washed the windscreen, cleaning away millions of years of evolution.

Sometimes it’s so easy to destroy a small universe.

Bob looked at the splashed insect without even noticing it.

“Who are you?”

“Is that of any importance?”

“Why me?”

“Is that of more importance?”

“What do you want then?”

“I just told you.”

Bob looked around the bus for a friendly face. Nobody even glanced at the two of them.

“I’m sorry. It’s nice to hear all of this but I’m... Please... I have to sleep...” Bob tried.

“Why do you lie to me?” There was so much sadness in that voice that for a second Bob forgot he was sitting next to a madman.

“Mr. Andrews, I know you don’t believe me, but in fifteen minutes we are going to be at Crifdalle Cliff, which is going to be called Dead Man’s Cliff for the next 142 years because of a terrible accident that will take place today.”

The guy behind Bob opened the window sticking his head out to look at something ahead. There was a chilly wind and all of the sudden Bob felt a little scared. What if Mush, if that was his name, was right? Should he jump? The window was so close!

“Look, I know you don’t think I’m the right messenger, but trust me, we are all given equal opportunities. Just sometimes we fail to see...”

Bob wasn’t listening any more, he remembered his first talk with a priest, who used similar words trying to teach him about Christianity, but back then Bob was so much younger. And then he saw a flash of his grandma kissing him softly, and then there was summer camp, and the stars in the night sky, and his first wife, just a girl, and his own daughter and... his house, and him getting on that bus, and...

From point A to point B there are 95 right turns and 56 left turns; 36 are dangerous and ten can be deadly; and there is also a cliff. It’s called Dead Man’s Cliff, because it’s taken many lives over the years. But it’s bad luck starting with a seven-thirty bus going from point A to point B for $90.37.

The sole survivor jumped out of the bus through one of the windows, just seconds before the accident. His name was Nathaniel Miriak, and he claimed the only reason he was alive was that he overheard a discussion between a little bald man and a tall, handsome stranger with some very long wings.

From point B to point C there are six main car roads, fourteen detours, two highways and four shortcuts; six trains with one stop and four trains with four stops, sixteen buses and two direct planes. Would you like a ticket?


Copyright © 2008 by Alex Moisi

Open Challenge 290...

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