IN THE STREETCategory: Land + People
He ran through the entrance hall and out into the street. A handful of rain was thrown in his burning face. lie took off his jacket and was instantly icy cold, but he dragged his hand across his face and shook it out, to show why he was standing there with the wet wind from the sea whipping his ribs.
Outside the hall, a posse of motorbikes browsed at the kerb, their riders camouflaged by moon helmets, a loose knot of girls admiring. Slinging the jacket over his shoulder, Tim walked away from them to where he could cross the street. An engine raced. A motorbike came at him with a dazzling eye swerved, canted screamed off down the hill.
Tim had jumped on to the centre island. As he stood there gasping for his breath, the traffic lights on the corner changed, and an armoured division came charging up the hill. At the same time, more cars and buses bore down on the othpr side of his narrow refuge, so that he was’ caught in a scissor of traffic. He clung to the lamp-post in the middle of the island until the lights changed and he could run for it, then sped down the hill to the bus stop. Legs grown fleet as a spider, his breath sawing his throat.
In the chilly bus-shelter, walled with corrugated green plastic that ended in a draught two feet from the ground like a lavatory, a few of the dance-hall crowd were fooling about, guffawing, jostling, grabbing, the girls twirling away on to the pavement, but wheeling right back when no one pursued them. Tim stayed oxitside, hands in pockets, shoulders hunched against their laughter. [...]
It was getting late. As usual, a bus had just pulled away as Tim came down the hill. There was a long wait till the next. He went behind the bus shelter and walked along the hoarding that hid a row of condemned shops, looking at the pictures of crippled children and men in bulging underpants and the swim suit girls.
Far down the road, the lights of a double-decker bus rode high over the traffic, an almost empty bus behind it, patrolling in pairs like scared policemen. The girls and youths burst out of the shelter and claimed the first bus for their territory, racketing up the stairs, the girls parading their thighs for the coloured conductor who did not notice. Tim went to the second bus. There was no one on top.
(From The Listeners by M. Dickens)