Early Wednesday morning in February
Oliver Plume watched the traffic light turn green for the second time. The passengers were beginning to get restless. She was late. Maybe she was off today, or sick. The light turned amber then red. “What you waiting for? Man, I’m going to be late,” exclaimed a Jamaican man towards the back of the bus! Passengers shifted in their seats, newspapers rustled, and someone sucked their teeth in aggravation. “Come on, come on,” cried another man. Oliver could not wait any longer or else he was going to be late. The light turned green. Dejected; his spirits low. Oliver reached for the indicator, looked into his side mirror outside the bus, and slowly pulled into traffic.
Did someone say wait? Oliver’s heart quicken in excitement. He heard someone hitting the back of the bus, then the side. Could it be her? He was known for not stopping once he pulled away from the curb. The passengers were snickering. He stopped halfway into the intersection. A car horn blared at as it drove by. The passengers stopped mid snicker, which almost sounded like a collective hick-up. He opened the front door, and she bounded onto the bus laughing, breathless, and thanking him effusively, as she paid with her MetroCard. “Thank you so much. I got stuck in the elevator. Thank God I wasn’t alone otherwise I would’ve gone stark raving mad. No more elevators for me. Good morning.” Oliver smiled inside. The morning that had seemed gloomy now seemed optimistic at 4:00AM. Oliver closed the door, and pulled into the minimal traffic that was around at that time in the morning. Raising her voice to be heard towards the back of the bus, she greeted the passengers with her usual “Morning all!” No one responded. They never did. It was too early to be hospitable. She sat in her usual seat near the door facing him. She reverted to her normal speaking voice, “thanks for waiting. I was sure I would have to take a cab this morning. I really can’t afford it, but I couldn’t be late this morning.” Oliver smiled at her rapid speech. It was always like that with this young lady. She talked non-stop; from the time she entered the bus to the time she got off at Terminal 2, Delta Airlines.
Oliver glanced quickly at her. She wore navy blue slacks and a short cream bubble coat. Both colors complimented her complexion. She was either biracial or multiracial. He had her features imprinted on his mind. Her eyes reminded him of melted dark chocolate. Ginger curly hair framed her small angular face, and her pink lips beckoned him to suck on her full bottom lip. She was not what anyone would call beautiful, but she was attractive. Her vivacious personality and mannerisms attracted him to her like a moth to a flame. With one leg crossed over the other, and her purse clutched tightly to her chest, she carried on a one sided conversation, while he picked up and dropped off passengers along the Q3 bus route toward the airport. She wore her uniform like nobody’s business, but Oliver prayed for summer, spring, or even some of the unusual warmer temperatures this winter, so that he could see her legs again. Although she was petite, she had the most gorgeous legs he had ever seen on a woman. Her flawless fair skinned complexion and shapely legs made his mouth water and his dick stand at attention every time they were on display.
“What’s your name?”
This was new. This was the first time she had asked him a personal question. He usually listened while she talked about her day or some program she had watched on television. “Oliver Plume.”
“Nice to meet you Oliver. Thanks again for waiting. Do you have a girlfriend? Cause I noticed you don’t have a ring. You seem like a guy who would be faithful and wear a ring if you were married. Are you married?”
Shit! Why did she have to go there? Oliver was not married, but he has been in a committed relationship for 2 ½ years. She was right. He was faithful to Delores.
“Well, are you?”
“What’s your name?”
“Oh.” She laughed like it was the funniest joke she had ever heard. The passengers were silent. They were either asleep, reading, or were paying close attention to the bus driver and the little lady’s conversation. “I’m Jennifer Stonebrook, but all my friends call me Jenny.”
Jenny. The name suited her. “Are you married, Jenny?”
“No, but I hope to be very soon.”
Shit! She’s engaged? Was this recent? He remembered looking at her ringless left hand when she first started taking the bus 2 weeks ago. Oliver laughed at his angry thoughts. He had to remind himself that he was also in a committed relationship.
“Can you believe I’m 30 today? I got stuck in the elevator for my birthday.”
“You don’t look a day over 18.”
“Thanks Ollie. Do your friends call you Ollie? I don’t know if I like that name.”
“No. Everyone calls me Oliver or O.P.”
“O.P.?” She began beatboxing and singing. “You down with O.P.P. Yeah you know me.” She laughed again. She had a beautiful laugh. Everything about her was beautiful. He was not all surprised that she was engaged.
“Congratulations,” Oliver grumbled. “When’s the big day?” I could care less.
“Huh?” A car cut in front of the bus and Oliver smashed on the brakes, everyone jerked forward in their seats.
“Stupid fuck!” Oliver cursed under his breath.
“O.P. watch what you doing up there, I don’t want to dead today,” shouted a Barbadian woman.
Jenny came to his defense. “A crazy man just cut in front of the bus. If Oliver didn’t have great reflexes, we would’ve been in an accident, so cut him some slack!”
“If he was paying more attention to the road, instead of you, he wouldn’t have to give us whiplash,” cried a woman passenger.
“You just jealous that no one ain’t paying you no mind, yuh old hag,” called out a male passenger. The passengers broke up laughing.
“Kiss my ass.”
“You wash that this morning? No thanks.”
“No thanks, I have standards.”
Oliver wanted to put a stop to the escalating quarrel, but did not want the angry words directed toward him. He decided not to intervene and concentrate on getting everyone safely to their final destination.
“What big day?”
Oliver was beginning to think that Jenny had a screw loose. Before he could respond, he heard someone remind Jenny of her statement.
“Oh.” She laughed that tinkling sound again that made him want to smile or laugh along with her. “I’m not engaged yet, but I promised myself that I’ll get married before my 31st birthday. I want to have at least 2 kids before I hit 35.
Oliver told himself not to respond, but his mouth paid him no mind and asked, “What does marriage have to do with kids?”
Oliver heard a gasp, but could not tell if it came from Jenny or from the old woman who sat next to her. Well women are having kids without marriage in this day and age. Not that he agreed that guys should shower their seeds over multiple flower beds, but women had children everyday without being married. She didn’t seem old fashioned to him, but then again, what did he really know about her?
“Oliver, I was raised in an orphanage.”
Poor baby. His heart ached for this vivacious woman. He could just see her as a precocious child with cute curls all around her face. He got a flash of a little girl that looked just like her except for his darker complexion. What type of men did she find attractive? Did she find him attractive?
“I mean the attendants were nice, but they weren’t real parents. Most of my friends were adopted, but… I was happy that they found a home—. I promised myself that my children would have parents.
“Well, I wish you luck in finding that special someone. I’m sorry if I offended you with my question.”
“So do you have a girlfriend?”
Are we back to that again? Wait, am I a candidate? Oliver pulled into the JFK International Airport’s cargo area. Someone rang the bell. Oliver pulled into the bus stop, and looked in his rear-view mirror to see a Rastafarian walking towards the front of the bus. One hand searching his inside coat pocket. As he got closer to the front door, he pulled out his wallet, took out a business card, and held it out to Jenny.
“Me ain’t in a relationship right now. I would marry you in a heartbeat. Give me a call Jenny. Me name right there on that card, Aldolphus George.” He sauntered off the bus, turned to Oliver with a raised hand and shouted, “Alright brother,” before turning away. He walked in front of the bus, and then jogged across 4 lanes of traffic to Korean Cargo Airlines. Oliver shook his head at the audacity of the man.
“You are in a relationship, aren’t you?” Jenny queried sadly.
Oliver gave her a sad look of his own, before looking in his side mirror and merging smoothly into oncoming traffic. Before responding to her statement, Oliver looked at her again, and noticed her staring intently at Aldolphus George’s business card. She was probably memorizing the phone number. The guy wasn’t bad looking, but he didn’t seem like Jenny’s type. What did he know about her type anyway? “Yes, I’m in a relationship, but it’s complicated.”
“I hate when men say that. Either you’re in a relationship or you aren’t.” Jenny appeared next to him, and whispered her next question. “Why… why is it complicated?”
Oliver felt an overpowering need to get to know this woman better. What if I asked her out and she said no? What if I never asked her out and this opportunity didn’t come again? What did he have to lose? Everything! He followed her lead and spoke softly. “Maybe… would you like to maybe go out with me so that I can explain it to you. This really isn’t the time or the place for this conversation.” He wished he could see her expression, but he was driving, and also he was afraid that she might be giving him a repulsive look. It was better to keep his eyes on the road. Oliver held his breath as he waited for her response.
“What’s all the whispering about? We can’t hear,” exclaimed a male voice.
He felt more than saw Jenny turn to address the heckler. “That’s why we’re whispering nosy.” The guy laughed it off. Oliver believed it was the same guy who had gotten into the altercation earlier with the female passenger. Turning back to him, Jenny said, “Do you have a cell phone?”
“Jenny, everybody and their dog has a cell phone.”
Jenny pealed out another round of laughter. He smiled. Her laughter and question released the tension coiled inside him. He loosened his grip on the steering wheel, and heaved a relieved sigh.
“Better yet, give me your number, and I’ll call you,” Jenny stated.
“Are you really going to call me, or are you just saying that to appease me?” He did not know where this comfortable wit was coming from, but he felt like a new man; a man who was willing to chase his woman down. Before she got off this bus, he was going to get her digits as the young people liked to say.
“No, if I say I’ll call, I will.”
“I was joking.” Her laughter erupted again, and she swatted at his arm. Then she reached over and squeezed his bicep, as if testing his muscle. What would she do if I reached over unzipped her coat and squeezed her breast? His breath hitched and he squirmed in his seat. Just the thought of touching her had him aroused. He needed to speak with Delores his live-in girlfriend. She squeezed his arm again and his dick twitched in his pants. Down boy. He loved her fragrance, but it was beginning to mess with both of his heads.
“Do you work out a lot?”
“I’m not a fanatic like LL Cool J or Vin Diesel, but I do work out every evening after my shift.”
“What types of exercises and for how long or reps?”
“Do you really want to hear this?”
“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t care. I usually do most of the talking when I’m on this bus. I want to know more about you.”
Usually women did all the talking in his presence. It has always been that way. His mother and sister are the talkers in his family. Him and his dad just let them talk until they ran out of steam. It was the same with Delores; she usually did all the talking. Recently they haven’t done any talking and he only just realized it.
The terminal signs announced the various terminal exits. He did not have much time left with Jenny. “Why don’t you get your cell phone, so you can program my number into your cell?”
“I’ve a photographic memory.”
“I would feel better if you entered my number in your phone, and call me, so that I’ll have your number as well.”
“Really?” She seemed surprised that Oliver would want her number.
“How else am I going to ask you out?”
She giggled and began searching through her bag for her cell phone.
“Why don’t you sit down and look for your phone?” Before I crash this bus and die with an erection.
She sat quickly in her seat and began searching again. He could hear her taking items out and placing them on the seat.
“Oh no! I left my cell phone on the kitchen table. I charged it last night because the battery was low, and I was running a little late this morning. I ran out of my apartment, and then got stuck in that stupid elevator. I didn’t even remember it until now.” She sounded as sad and dejected as he felt.
He pressed down on the accelerator. He needed to get to one of the terminals so he could retrieve his phone. He was not sure if she was lying or not about not having her phone, but he was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. He turned into Terminal 8, American Airlines. Someone pressed the bell, and he drove straight for the stop. A car had parked at the bus stop so he pulled in behind it. This was the first day that he did not hold down his horn at whoever was crazy enough to park at a bus stop. He opened the front door, and some passengers got off. They thanked him and he replied automatically, “You’re welcome. Have a great day.” He searched the driver’s door pockets, and pulled out his cell phone. The phone was off; he had to turn it on. He prayed that it was charged. He could not remember the last time he had charged his phone. Everyone complained that they could never reach him. Why would a man who never did much talking need a cell phone? For times like these. “Thank God,” he breathed.
“Here enter your name and cell number. I’ll call you and leave a message.”
She took the phone and smiled. Oliver was ahead of schedule, so he stayed at the bus stop until she entered her number and passed the phone back to him. He stared at her name in his address book. He felt that this was a sacred moment. It felt right to see her name in his phone. He pressed the telephone icon and her phone rang a couple of time, then her sexy voice came on requesting that the caller leave their name, number, and a brief message. He inhaled deeply and after the beep, looked directly into her mesmerizing gaze and said, “Hi Jenny. This is Oliver. Would you like to go out with me this Saturday?” He felt his throat closing up, and tried to swallow down his nervousness. She smiled at him and nodded once. He smiled and hung up. He felt a rush of adrenaline. He felt like he could conquer the world. Oliver put away his phone, and still smiling watched for traffic before merging into it.
He gripped the steering wheel with both hands as he wondered where he could take her. He stopped smiling as he remembered his promise to Delores. Shit! Fuck! No she wasn’t going to spoil my day. This Saturday he was going out with Jenny, and Delores would have to ask her male assistant to work on Saturday, as her date to their boss’ dinner party. He always felt so out of place among the rich and famous anyway.
He drove with a smile on his face and excitement in his heart to Terminal 2, where Jenny got off the bus with a hearty wave to Oliver.