Thank you all for your comments and encouragement for my very first post yesterday. As promised here is one of my short stories. I belong to a Creative Writing workshop group at Kenmore School in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane City, QLD Australia. We meet once a week during school term to workshop our stories under the master story-teller and author Isabel D’ Avila Winter. Here is a story I wrote under the category short-story fiction. It was based on events of a real situation but characters and scenes have been changed. I hope that it would be published later in my short story book. Please click on the highlighted link below to download or read the story.
The Price of a Small Change – JK.Leahy short story
“Any small change?”
Dit held out his right palm as he expectantly traced the bus queue at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane. It was Thursday, almost seven. For Late Night Shopping in the suburbs, not too many people were around. The wind was cold.
Visitors to the Royal Brisbane Hospital were leaving; visiting hours ended at 8pm.
“Excuse me, any small change?”, he asked the fifth person, a pale-faced peroxide blonde woman, in her fifties. Standing nearly as tall as him in a black three inch high heel and, wrapped warmly in a red coat, her heavily made-up face took a long stare at Dit’s ripped blue poly-cotton long-sleeve shirt. Clearly, Dit’s appearance did not fit. She scoffed and looked away.
Dit pressed forward without a flinch or loss of courage.
His left shirt pocket had ripped to its base and flew about like a kite in the wind. He was barefooted. His dirty blonde strands flapped in the same direction the wind took his pocket.
“Small change?” he asked the next three people. No-one gave him a thing. No-one said anything.
I could hear him coming towards my sister and I as the crust on his trouser hem swept the floor as he walked. I started to feel around for coins in my pockets, my bag and my purse, my eyes on him. Being a pensioner, I had only spent my last $20 for that week on a bus ticket and dropped the change somewhere in my bag. I had not planned for this situation. I could identify with this man’s desperation and I wanted to help.
In a few seconds, I could see his dirty brown denims sweep into view and two very dirty feet peeked at me. His toe nails, soiled, uncut and ugly. My eyes followed the awkwardly hung trouser legs up his thin frame to his face.
“Any lose coins”, he asked, standing tall and looking down at me with steel blue eyes. Nothing could be piercing and clearer than those eyes, set in a ruffle of stringy long hair. The bus terminal overhanging casted a shadow over his face but I could see less than half a dozen teeth and a wide smile outlined by a scanty moustache.
I held up our lose change, both my sister’s and mine and he grabbed it, touching my hand. I pulled away.
“Hi, I’m Dit” he said as he pocketed our coins.
I smiled at him. He stood there, smiled back and then asked: “Don’t I know you?”
My sister stared at him, alarmed.
“No, I don’t think so”, I said.
“Oh… I KNOW YOU’, he insisted. “You helped me before”.
I was embarrassed that I could not remember. I hoped he did not think I pretended to not know him.
“Ah, maybe I did help you in the city or the Valley”, I said.
He flashed a big toothy grin and coughed. “Oh well, I better get going”.
“Alright, you take care now” I said and watched him disappear into the dimly lit street.
At that moment, Bus 333 arrived and everyone piled into it. My sister and I took the seats at the back door. We had the view of the front but we could get off quickly to catch Bus 444 to Moggill at the city stop.
As the bus drew out, a man in a long black coat ran and jumped on just before the bus door slammed shut. He carried something.
Stopping briefly to check the main road traffic, the driver eased Bus 333 onto the road and headed for Brisbane City.
Every passenger was sitting with their heads pointing down engrossed on their smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices. A woman in the seat near us read the paper. At the front of the bus, my eye caught that last passenger. He leaned against the metal post near the driver and there was something about his stance and his face was familiar but he was covered and his coat had a hood.
As I watched, the passenger approached the driver; we were only five minutes away from Adelaide Street Central Bus Terminal. The man leaned over and the bus driver suddenly stepped on his brakes two stops before the city and a few metres short of the next stop.
All the passengers’ eyes came up briefly and then they returned to their phones and what they were doing before. I felt something strange was about to happen.
I kept looking at the passenger. Then he stood stand up again. I saw him drop a piece of cloth revealing a gun, which he pointed at the driver. The driver slammed the brakes and everybody swayed forward and some even screamed. We had stopped in a quiet dark street.
Some passengers started crying and many tried to get up, but the stranger cocked the gun and said in a firm voice as he walked towards us: “Everyone, please stay where you are, do not move and do not try to scream, I have a loaded gun”. His voice was familiar.
The man stopped in front of my sister and me; I was shocked.
It was the same toothless smile I had only seen earlier this evening. “You two can leave”, he said, nodding his head towards the door.
Trembling and holding on to each other, we stepped down and just as we got out, he leaned over and said: “You take care now”.
The door slammed shut and Bus 333 drove away.