Bowie Man

Bus stops feature rather frequently in my stories.  So here we are at a Brighton bus stop.

 

He was at the bus stop outside the Co-op.  From the back he was a long raincoat and two pug dogs tangling leads at his ankles.  But then the head turned and I was slapped by the flash of make-up.  Spikes of red and blue puckered over a craggy cheek.

“Was it the 81 you wanted, Love?”

“Yep.  Has it gone?”

He nodded and one corner of the smile dropped in a rueful acknowledgement. I was almost sure, could picture the album cover – a little hazy but sharpening now – Aladdin Sane.  I Googled it to be sure.  This was that image.  But it was that image projected onto the features of a man of seventy or more.  The lurches and slips in the flashes were extreme.  The make-up petered out on a neck of ruched crepe.  I glanced at the screen of my phone.  Bowie’s collar bone contained a pool of liquid seeping gently over the fine bridge.  I imagined this man’s flesh itself sliding over the skinny frame beneath the coat.

“Not naked underneath, no.”

I thrust the phone into my jacket pocket and mouthed at words I couldn’t capture.

“It’s ok, sweetheart.  You’re not the first.  It’s these new phones.  It’s when they start looking up and down – me, the phone, me.  Then one day I just asked and he showed me the screen.”

He was holding out a pink, lined palm and I placed my phone in it like payment.   He jabbed in frustration.  I turned to stand, shoulder to shoulder, swept my finger over the screen and Bowie appeared.  Weight and warmth as he moved closer and whispered his words at my ear.

“Beautiful, eh?”

“Yeah.”

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