‘I’m sorry, but you can’t bring them on.’
‘Not a notion, forget about it, no, no way. The children are fine, but I’ll have to ask your two friends to leave the animals behind.’
‘But, why? It’s not as if they’re pets, they’re guide dogs. These men need them.’
‘I understand that missus, but the boss’ll kill me, if he finds dogs on the bus, sure, he’ll go fuckin mad.’
‘And the other passengers too; what about them?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, what if the dogs do their business inside? What happens then? People complain and we’re all outta the job.’
‘I’m aware of that, but these are highly trained guides, they’re not like other animals, there must be something you can do? I mean, we really need to get to the city today.’
He looked at his watch.
‘Look, I’ll ring the boss.’ He paused. ‘If he says it’s ok, then it’s ok, ok?’
‘Yes, ok, thank you.’
The blind men wore dark glasses, held the leash of their guide dogs, waiting for an indication to move. The queue behind them were all working people, destined for the city. The driver didn’t know he could be heard on the phone.
‘Yea, yea, I know what you mean, yea, that’s exactly what I said. Fuck them. Let them get a taxi. I’ll tell them that now. People wouldn’t like it anyway. Okay…’
‘No bother Tom. Okay, bye, bye, bye.’
He hung up, returned and shrugged.
‘I’m sorry, but there’s nothin I can do. I rang himself there now and he says it’s against regulations to have animals on the bus. I’d love to help ye, but it’s just out of my hands. That order came straight from the top. If it was up to me, there’d be no problem….’
‘But surely there’s an exception for the blind?’
He shrugged again. ‘Ring Head Office if ye like, number’s in the phone book, I’ll have to leave now coz of the thraffic, there’s people waitin to go to work. Just give that crowd a ring and see how ya get on.’
On the road. The rain bounced off the windshield as he changed gears aggressively, looking at his watch in the same movement.
‘Half the fuckin mornin gone with them,’ he muttered. ‘Dogs…’
‘What was the story with them freaks outside?’ asked a woman from behind.
He replied through the mirror. ‘Did ya spot them, ya did? Wanted to bring the fuckin dogs on the bus! Dogs like, on the bus!’
‘Yeah, And I sez, what the fuck do ya think I am? Does this look like some sort of a pet shop? Or a shaggin zoo or somethin?’
‘Jesus, on the bus? I can’t stand dogs,’ she said.
‘Me neither, ‘n I sez that too, I sez, d’you think the ordinary decent workin folk are gonna put up with that, the likes a ye comin in with animals? Puttin piss and shit and every sorta fuckin thing all over the floor? Who’ll clean it up then? When they’re bollickin around the city? I sez, d’ya think I’ve nothin’ better for doin? ‘I sez, hang on and I’ll ring the boss now, and I goes around the corner like, so they couldn’t hear what I’d been sayin, ya know? They’re the type of cute cunts that’d be listenin to you when you’re on the phone, ya know yourself? So I goes around an’ I rang like. And he answers an’ I sez, “Tom?”
Now, it’s Monday mornin and Tom doesn’t like to be disturbed on the best of mornin’s, you know the crack yourself. And I sez, “Tom? There’s a crowda quare lookin bastards here that want to bring dogs to Galway and he sez, “for fucks sake Mick, what’re ya ringin me for?” And I sez, just in case, coz a the dis…dis…incremation crowd and all that ya know? Two of them reckon their blind like.”
He switched the wipers from slow to fast and the engine surged as he changed gears again.
‘So Tom sez, he sez, “What’re ya on about Mick?” And I told him the shstory again and he sez, he sez “Will ya fuck off, and tell them yokes, that if they think they’re goin bringin dirty bastardsa dogs on my fuckin bus they can go shove them where the sun don’t definitely shine.’
He let the joke settle, she gave a sympathetic chuckle.
‘And then he sez, he sez, wait till ya hear this now, he asks. “Are they knacks like? Cousins?” And I sez: “No, stoned lookin fuckers.” -and sure he went cracked then entirely. Out ta fuck with them! “Jesus Christ!” He sez “Get rid of them fasht! For the love ‘n honour a God!”- and I sez, – that’s exactly what I said,- ya know?’
‘Dead right. I hope we didn’t lose too much time?’
‘Sure that’s it. Five minutes like that can make all the difference! You have a crucial window before half seven and after that it’s choca fuckin block. Before schools and factorys and every other prick starts opening up…. next thing Tom asks, was I still in town, an I sez I was, and he sez, to get your hole on the road fasht or you’ll be stuck in thraffic all mornin…
So I hung up and told them the way it was and gave them a number for a taxi. Your wan was getting a bit emotional alright but, fuck her, not my problem. The likes a that kinda carry on now makes me sick, dirty bastards. You’d think the guards’d be able to do somethin about them type now? Hangin around like that, causin trouble and holdin people up, sure just look at the time it is? They’ll spend the resht of the day now in the dole office I spose, lookin for handouts. I don’t give a fuck, covered myself anyway, with the dis…disc…cremation…. whatever ye call them crowd anyway.’
The rain beat harder, giving the world outside the look of a blurry photograph. The bus reached the outskirts of the city. Ahead, like a mechanical snake, sat an endless gridlock of vehicles. Cars, vans, lorrys, roadworks, bikes and buses and roaring ambulances, all like maggots on the cowhide of the road. Everyone was going to be late. The tension descended like a slow puncture.
‘Fuck’s sake.’ Said the woman.
‘Cuntin… fuckin… dogs.’ Said the driver.
‘Why didn’t you just let on the dogs?!’ Came a shout from the back. A student type with glasses, greasy hair, denim jacket and new found dusty booked notions of socialism.
‘We could have made it.’ Shouted a Charlie Sheen, Wall Street effort in a suit. ‘If you weren’t makin phone calls.’
‘Drive on!’ Came a third.
‘Aragh shove it up your hole.’ He muttered, then rammed on the horn. ‘The lights are green ye cunts! Go on will ye! Are ye fuckin blind?!”