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.