Leon de Leeuw
Marto and the trolley bus passenger
Marto passed the steering wheel through his thick sausage hands. His wedding ring suffocated his finger and seemed to symbolized his marriage that was figuratively gasping without air. He drove long shifts on the trolley bus and had little time to see his wife Irina. Marto was on his way to the trolley bus depot, it was his last ride after a long day. Now the trolley bus would derive from the original route, towards the depot, Marto opened the door of the driver cabin and screamed “final stop” to the five remaining passengers. “How should I get home now?” called a rude skater kid. “Why in the Lord’s name should I care, use your board man.” Passengers always got on Marto’s nerves and it led him to overeat during his breaks. This in combination with as little movement as humanly possible had made Marto a bald fat man. Irina, his curly haired wife, barely saw any reason to stay with him. Their combined meagre salary just made their ends meet.
As Marto rolled into the depot, he looked inside his rear mirrors and saw a woman that had not left the bus yet. “Wasn’t I clear enough at the last stop you duck?”, he screamed towards the slim woman with a fur coat. She wore a hat and little was visible of her face, especially from as far as Marto’s driver seat. “Get out, I have no patience for you”. The woman had been asleep and was now totally disoriented. All the doors opened and the freezing cold embraced her. Snow blew inside the trolley bus and as she looked through the window she saw many other buses, realizing she was in the depot. “Sorry, fell asleep” she said as she took her grocery bags and left the bus with a rather sad face. Marto felt some sympathy and asked “do you know where to go?”. The woman said “not really” and asked at what depot they were. “Zaharna fabrika”, he said. The woman sighed loudly, they both knew the area is not pleasant to walk around at night. The woman would get a cab, she said. Then Marto saw how beautiful the woman actually was and offered a ride with his own car. He felt bad letting a lady walk down the street alone at night. They both had to go southwest over the ring road anyway. Marto just did a short cleanup of his bus and rear-parked it next to the long fence.
As they both walked towards Marto’s beat-up Fiat Panda, the woman introduced herself as Diana. In the car, Diana took off her hat and it seemed she had red hair with a pony ending just above his eyebrows. In the dark car, few words were exchanged. As Marto sped up the runway towards the ring road, his summer tyres could not pull the weight of the little car and it got stuck in the icy snow. Marko put his foot down full throttle and the wheels spinned in an effort to get the car moving again. Little result. Other cars drove around them and Marto had to get out. He realized he’d have an appointment with friends of his wife Irina and as their relationship was already very tense, he knew he absolutely couldn’t miss it. He decided to push the car first while Diana was trying to drive it out of the snow they got in. Marto was already running late and decided to call his wife while using his foot to wipe loose snow under the front wheels. “You worthless hunk of garbage!” could be heard out of the phone from afar. Marto said he was stuck with another woman whom he would bring home. This had been the so-called straw that broke the camel’s bag and Irina, on the other side of the line, completely lost it. “You stay there with your metal piece of junk and that skank you dug op somewhere!” Marto was noticeably angry and threw his phone into the car through the rolled down. It was now Diana that felt sorry for Marto. One last time, one more push and the car jumped forward over the heap of ice they had gotten themselves into. Marto nearly bust his shoulder but his weight had really helped get the car out of its position.
As he crawled back behind the wheel, Marto stepped on it and thick fumes of exhaust polluted the white snow. “I’ve had it with her anyway, I was already thinking of leaving. I think we had the best part of our marriage by now” Marto said in a sad but also kind of relieved way. He then noticed Diana intensely staring at him, like she was closely staring at the freckle on his right cheek. Marto was well aware of his rather unappealing appearance but he was manly and his talk would always help him make friends and meet new people. Diana seemed to have fun with him and they kept laughing at each other’s silly jokes. As Marto left the ring road, Diana explained the way to her place. As they parked in front of the modern apartment building, Marto felt he had completely messed up with Irina, whom he was already completely out of love with. He thrusted his thick fingers through Diana’s hair, a bold move he would normally be scared to make. Diana was tightly holding her grocery bags and was seemingly charmed by the move. She invited Marto in for some herbal tea. Marto accepted the invitation, he was probably not welcome at home anyway at this point. When they entered the bright and spacious apartment, Diana didn’t mention the tea anymore and poured two glasses of chilled white wine. As they clung their glasses they looked each other in the eyes shyly. “Why did you offer me a ride?” Marto replied by saying “I saw an unloved woman and could not leave her in the cold night”. “What about you?” Marto asked. “Why did you invite me into your place?” “I saw an unloved man and could not leave him with a cold wife.” They both laughed and Marto slowly kissed her. Meanwhile Diana was pulling his finger to take of the tight ring. It didn’t move. They had some more wine and Diana took some hand soap, finally taking the tight grip from Marto’s finger. It felt like the tight grip on Marto’s life was instantly released as well.
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