On the Bus by Jules
You can take the bus home. You can hear someone talking loudly on their phone but the words they broadcast will evaporate and turn into noise with no more meaning than the birds in the trees. Except when there is a rude word, and you might take notice for a moment, might think how uncouth. Or perhaps you will not think about it at all. You may have headphones in your ear as you watch the lives of others on your phone. Even if you do not have headphones you may still miss the quiet conversation in the seats in front of you.
He was sitting looking out of the window, a bag on the seat next to him even though the bus was quite full.
She cast her eye about the bus, settling on him.
“Sorry, could you move the bag?”
He smiles at her. He engages her. It encourages her to ask a question about the bag.
“That is an interesting logo, what is it from?”
The logo is a mixture of curves and circles of different colours.
“It is from my club.”
“Must be an intersting club with a design like that.”
“Oh yes, it most certainly is.”
“You sound quite pleased with it.”
There's a silence, he's smiling looking towards the window though not out of it. He is clearly wondering if he should say more.
“I can tell you about it if you like?”
“Sure, why not.”
“OK, well, it's club for adults.”
There is a silence again, imagine how uncertain you would be about starting such a conversation with a stranger.
“A gentleman’s club?”
“No, no. There are performances but not like strippers and stuff.”
“Sure, what kind of performances then?”
“Well, shall I describe a performance?”
“Sure, that would be a start.”
“OK, there is this large room with a dozen sofas about the edges with big space in the middle where a couple are twisting and rolling in slow motion. No music, and no one is talking, just the sounds of the creaking caused by slow movements, both from the couple and from the audience.”
“Like a modern dance club?”
“Well, sort of. Another time there was a woman who spread out a large plastic sheet on the floor and proceeded to mix a batter on the sheet which kind of got all messy and all over her and there was this contrast of the stringy shapes of batter all stretched out and the curves of the woman.”
“Like an art performance club?”
“Yeah, like art but with a focus on the human form, if you know what I mean. Like the other night all the lights were down and everyone had sparklers which created different light that changed the shapes and curves of the body.”
“I think what you are saying is…”
She paused for a while as if to think of the right word, or perhaps because she was wondering if she should say the word.
“...is a swingers club.”
“Yes, that would be a fair way to describe it.”
“It sounds more interesting than the image I would have in my mind. I would imagine it would all be about showing off your, um, nakedness. With all the men sitting about masturbating as some rich fat old man buggers his trophy wife.”
“Interesting, so do you attend these parties often?”
“No, I don’t mean to be rude about your thing, just that wasn’t what I was expecting.”
“Well, to be honest, sometimes it can be a bit that way. But that isn’t my buzz which is why I have moved about a bit to find the club that has the right balance. There are always, in everything, bits you like and bits you don’t. Always people who are a little off. Weirdos and perverts.”
“And proud of it.”
“Guess I asked for it.”
“Listen sweetie, we have all done strange things in our lives. It was brave of you to mention something that could cause such offence. You are lucky that I’m a creative type. We don’t shock easily, you know the types of stuff we get up to. Though I am not saying. No things like skinny dipping in Cornwall. I dare say if you searched for that you might find a picture of me online.”
“A bit of an exhibitionist then?”
“Always tastefully done, sweetie, always tastefully done.”
“The thing about my club is it is a good place for the ‘creative type’.”
“Ah, so there it is!”
Her voice is triumphant, many of the passengers on the bus glance in her direction, but as she continues in a low voice they look back to their personal preoccupations.
“This is a recruitment drive, I am flattered you chose me as suitable for your sordid affair but I think this time you might have misjudged.”
“No, that wasn’t. Um. Of course I wasn’t. Not that it wouldn’t be wonderful. You are a very… I really didn’t assume…”
“Oh, sweetie, don’t panic I was just teasing. I still think you are brave to admit to something so intimate.”
“Well, would you like to come?”
“Why don’t you tell me about it.”
“OK. Here is the thing. The club is fundamentally about honesty and acceptance. I know, I know, but it is true. Sure there are overweight sugar daddies and trophy wives but there are also a full range of normal people, though more of our age. And there is a strict no phones rule so you wouldn’t get your photo online unlike Cornwall.”
“Like I said, there are always some performers who want to be in the middle. Of course, there is actual sex, but the majority is showing off, and touching.”
“So, sweetie, what do you like about it?”
“OK, I will tell you, but first what would you do if you were there?”
“You can’t drop me in it like that sweetie, you have to describe the scene for me first then I will tell you what I would do. And don’t forget to tell me what you are doing.”
“OK. So there are two women performing on the floor. They are the ones doing the slow motion rolling dance. They are, of course, naked and part of their doing it in slow motion is so their audience can examine every inch of them. They are actually quite good dancers so their performance is quite mesmeric. The club itself is quite full but there are spaces on most of the sofas should you wish to join them. Most of the people are wearing as little as the dancers though some of them are dressed up. Dressing up is a big thing. Like erotic cosplay. One sofa has a couple sitting, touching each other, looking about waiting for someone to join them. They are beautiful, sleek, he is quite muscular and she is toned. The next sofa has another couple but they are a bit more average. Stretch marks and a bit of flab, but, of course, skin is skin, as says the club moto. The next sofa has two woman who are enjoying each other, and they look like they could enjoy another person joining them. Another sofa has two naked men who look like they would love to be joined by a woman they could worship. And there are two double sofas with only a single person on them, one male one female, both looking for a companion. And then, of course, there are stools behind each of the sofas for anyone who would like to just watch one or the other.”
“And you, where are you sweetie? As you haven’t put yourself on a sofa you must be on a stool, which sofa are you sitting behind?”
“I am on a stool, but my stool is on a side across from the sofas. From my stool I can see all the sofas and the floorshow. There is a space next to me if that is what you are after.”
“Well, sweetie, it has been a delight, and this is a journey that I am going to keep with me for a long time but mine is the next stop.”
“OK, it looks like you will have to tell me next time we take a bus journey together.”
“Oh sweetie, you are a delight, and this has been a real ride. Of course, were I ever to find myself in that club of yours I would come sit next to you. But bye for now.”
He took her hand as she stood, she turned towards him as he kissed the back of her hand. They smiled as the bus doors opened.
She turned, she got off and walked in the direction the bus was taking. Though she looked back at the bus and he looked out for her, they didn’t do it at the same time and their eyes did not meet.