280 Stops

A novella for the Internet about the 11 bus.

- eleven -

Mr Leslie Rogers

Outward appearance

A battered bomber jacket isn't fastened across a threadbare sweater. The jumper is a faded colour and doesn't quite cover all of the pale polyester shirt that is having similar trouble with the vest beneath. Mr Rogers's hair is almost all grey and not in good condition, but there is still a fair amount of it in an Alan Freeman way.

Inside information

Mr Rogers used to live round here, on Aston Lane about half way between Perry Barr and Witton. He ran a newsagent, sweetshop, tobacconist and lived above it. Next door worked and lived his brother Peter, who was and ran a dispensing chemist. Their shops were connected by a door behind the counter, they were happy. He's off to Erdington to buy a pair of shoes.

What they are doing or thinking

Leslie's feet are cold, the soles of his brogues are worn through and the pieces of cornflake packet aren't cutting it. Moving his toes isn't helping, but nothing of the rest of his body shifts, not even his eyes from the houses the bus rhythms past. He thinks about how he once didn't need to scrimp and save, how he once held court to man, woman, and child on this stretch of terraces. He thinks about how much has changed since he sold the shop and moved to the suburbs.

He thinks about how he once killed his brother, helping him slip out of pain with a pillow held until the breathing stopped, and how he still can't tell anyone. How that's stopped him talking to anyone about anything. He gets off on the High Street and heads towards Bacon's.