Short stories: Ten commandments of public transport

Keith stood there in the cold, waiting for that damn tram again. Every morning the same routine. Every morning the same people joined him. All on their way to work. Keith never liked public transport. Every day felt like survival. But he was managing. He had rules. His ten commandments of public transport.

Slowly the tram stopped in front of him. He smiled. Again he had predicted the exact point where the doors would be when the tram stood still.

The doors opened and he chose his spot. Next to him was a young asian girl, who was busy with her phone. Her glasses tended to slide down her nose and she had to correct that now and then. It was cute. Nothing wrong with that. But then he noticed. She was chewing. Loudly.
Rule number five, Music makes everything better. As fast as he could, he searched his pockets. Damn, forgot the in-ear headphones. This is going to be a long ride.

The rules were there to protect him. To make sure he would survive these animals. He tried to see what was on her phone, but reminded himself about rule nine. Don’t read other people’s phones or books. He had to add this rule when someone was organising her nudes on the phone. The memory of that ride filled him with fear. Never again would he be in a situation where he had to explain why he was looking at someone’s phone.

The tram stops again and the girl gets out. Thank the heavens. Chewy bitch is gone. Before Keith could celebrate, a man sat next to him. He really must love personal space, because he just took his. Rule number eight popped up in his mind. Respect each other’s personal space. An attempt was made to make eye contact, but with no avail. The big man’s body transported his heat to Keith. He could feel a heartbeat but was unsure if it was his, or that of the man. Keith coughed loudly, but was again ignored.

His new personal sweat buddy grabbed something out of the bag on his lap and started to scribble in a small book. Oh fuck, it is a puzzle freak. Rule number six. Puzzle freaks are the bane of our existence. The smug face when they finally complete their stupid Sudoku puzzle. The glisten in their eyes when they seek acceptance after completing a cryptogram. Keith felt sick. Slowly he was contemplating what to do next. He could initiate rule number four. If he was in pain, then others should feel the same pain. He remembered the last time when he did that. Someone stood on his foot, so he did it back. Not out in the open. He made sure it looked like an accident. He could still recall the feeling of the power flowing through his body.

No, that was not the right thing to do now. His eyes scouted the seats. Where could he sit? The tram slowed down for his next stop. A few people got up and left their precious seat available. This is it. He stood up and sat in a free spot. The man didn’t even realize it. Probably thinking about a way to put a six in his morbid game of numbers. God, how Keith hated Sudoku.

“Is this seat taken?” He heard a voice next to him. Keith looked up. There she stood.
Her long chestnut brown hair wrapped in a ponytail, while her green eyes looked towards him. Her smile made his heartbeat rise. Without thinking he nodded and said “No, please, sit down.”.

“She is out of your league.” said a voice in his head.
Yeah, i know.
“But she is making you break three of the most important rules.”
Keith smiled at her and tried his best to focus on what was outside.
“Let’s see. Rule number one. Communication is forbidden in public transport.”
Yes, I broke that one. Stop reminding me, brain.
“What about rule number two. If there is no way of escaping communications, please keep it non verbal. Didn’t you just talk to her?”
Keith began to sweat a bit. He knew what rule number three was. His heart was pounding like a there was no tomorrow. Butterflies started to appear in his stomach. He looked up at her and smiled again. She smiled back. Rule number three. Talking in public transport can only lead to one thing. Sex. He never understood why he made up that rule, but it was logical at one point in his life. What if you talk to someone every day? What starts as a talk in public transport can easily lead into a conversation at a supermarket. Or on the sidewalk. Or in her house. It is like a carefully placed string of dominos. Knock one over and before you know it everything falls apart. Sex. That is the end station.

The tram slowed down again and she got up. She dropped a “Bye” before she stepped out of the tram. Keith looked out of the window. What was this feeling? Why am I falling for her? He sighed. Just turn around if you want to see me again. While these words popped up in his mind, she slowly turned around. Their eyes met, she smiled and gave him a small wave.

Keith looked at the seat she left empty and saw a small note. Surprised he picked it up and saw a string of numbers written on it with a smiley face. Damn, rule number seven. Don’t flirt in public transport.

Maybe it was time to revisit the commandments and change them. He sniffed the small piece of paper and smelled the cheap perfume. The smell of teenage discos. He laughed. But there is one rule he could never change. Rule ten. Enjoy the ride.




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