The Bus Stop Encounter
by Robert Ball
The bus shelter, urine smell and all, offers Joe respite from the November tempest. Wind blown clouds play tag with the full moon causing an eerie slow motion strobe-like effect on the adjacent urban park.
“Hey mister can you spare a dollar?”
Startled, Joe whirls around toward the shelter’s darker end.
“Whose there?” He challenges, hands reflexively clenching into gloved fists.
“Just a war vet down on his luck. I don’t mean nobody no harm or nothin’.”
“And just what war might that be buddy?”
“The Nam” replied the bum limping slowly forward.
Emerging from the darkness, the old veteran stops, revealing a collection of tattered rags clinging to a battered pale body. An oblique checkerboard of moonlight and shadows crisscross his crippled frame.
“You too have the signs young man. A soul-damaged look straight from hell itself!”
“Yeah, Iraq, another godforsaken war”, sighs Joe.
Reaching under his coat, Joe pulls out some bills. Extracting a five he hands it to the old man, then turns to look for the bus.
“Not God, but the self-righteousness of man brings about such wars, and thanks. Oh, your wish is granted.”
“Wish. What wish?” Says Joe turning back, but the bum had vanished!
Hearing a rush of steps, Joe turns again and collides with a petite figure in an oversized hooded coat. Slender fingers push back the hood revealing a brown-skinned angel in a nurse’s uniform! Mutual apologies flow while they stare into each other’s eyes … followed by shared smiles.