Tilly always rode the top deck. She had to sit at the front where the expanse of window curled round the double-decker like a glass scarf. Shuffling past the boy, the only other passenger, Tilly heaved herself into the best seat on the bus. He glanced up, pausing mid-sentence, and then continued with his conversation. Oddly, his voice rose in volume after her arrival.
“Yeah mate,” the youth drawled.
His languid vowels seeped into Tilly’s head. With eyes shut she daydreamed of sleepy post-coital lovers basking naked on a sun dappled counterpane.
“Saw her last night… round babysitting for me sister.”
Tilly swivelled in her seat, as best she could, treating him to a piercing stare. Cackling, the boy pressed the mobile phone even closer to his ear snorting in response to some joke, probably dirty.
Taking out a crisp, cotton hankie she wiped under her eyes. It had been the right decision to leave off her tights. A nice stroll along the prom with Derek would soon cool her down. Tilly patted springy curls, fat like sausage rolls, pondering if the salt-breeze would damage her new perm.
“She had on this mini-skirt, leather, barely covered her…”
Tilly delved into the handbag. The little bleeder was always slipping to the bottom.
“And that strapless top, you know the crumpled one that shows off her…”
Shaking fingers slid around her smooth new toy. Tilly was adjusting to the birthday present from Emma, her granddaughter, and had already experimented with texting. Now she planned to try out the camera function. Derek loved a good picture.
“Catches her bending over the cot, don’t I, and so I slips my hand up her…”
Tilly squinted, closing one eye, at the wobbly image on the phone screen and tapped the centre button.
“Then I pulls down her knickers and gives her…”
Tilly lifted the hem of her polyester print dress and the camera flashed again.
“Naw, there’s only some old bird up front,” said the youth, “looks well past it. Reckon she ain’t seen action this century.”
From the top deck the sea sparkled like a jeweller’s window. This was her stop. Derek stood by the bus shelter, a bunch of stiff red carnations clutched to his buttoned-up cardigan.
The bus juddered, slowing and hiccoughing forward to a sudden halt. Tilly creaked to her feet beginning the journey to the exit. Drawing level with the boy she thrust out the phone screen and its frozen image. He dropped his mobile phone like a slippery pebble. It tumbled under the seat, clattering down the stairs, as he screeched out an expletive.
She would never have dared to address an adult with such filth. In her day the conductor would have flicked his ear and kicked the tosser off the bus. The top deck used to attract a better class of traveller.
Going commando. Tilly had recently learnt this from Emma. And without tights it was just the ticket for a hot, summer’s day.
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