Night of the Incompetents

Anita and I never did work out what Daniel’s story was – he was lean, blonde and friendly, on pain medication for minor injuries sustained in a recent car crash, and obviously batshit crazy. He probably shouldn’t have been drinking the beer cans which spilled out of his black bags when the bus driver set them down on the platform at Waikanae, or the large Red Bull. Bursting for a slash, he had zoomed off as soon as the doors opened, and when he stumbled out of the bushes a few minutes later, the bus had gone.

The evening had taken a turn for the worse. At first we thought the train back to Wellington was merely late, but then we discovered it had been replaced by a bus which we may or may not have missed while waiting down the other end of the station. Half an hour later in the cold, a bus dutifully pulled into the carpark, and after the grim driver had set down Daniel’s forgotten bags, we tried to get on.

He stopped us. “There’ll be another one along in a minute.” And left.

When Daniel re-emerged, he approached his bags in wonder. “Are these my bags? This isn’t mine,” he concluded, tossing aside the empty cans. Anita gave him a baleful stare, and continued marching up and down the platform to keep warm. He gave me an unpleasantly damp and warm handshake, and all the demons invigorated by the competing substances racing through his veins spilled out happily from his mouth.

He concluded from my hat, beard and diction that I was Scandinavian, and opened one of his bags to show me his gun. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he drooled. “Ever seen one of these before?” He pulled it out and aimed it right at my leg. “Give me your money” he demanded in a menacing voice.

Well, how else would you say it?

Then he fired.

Oh, what japes! It was some sort of non-functioning replica. Good thing Anita was down the other end of the platform, she was already having a lousy enough time. I was working on the principle that it was best to be pleasant to Daniel so as to not annoy him, and after another half hour of very careful conversation I was immensely relieved to see another bus pull up. Daniel was still heading north, so he ran across State Highway One to try his luck at hitchhiking.

“There was a bus earlier” I said to the driver. “but they wouldn’t let us on.” It turns out that the previous driver lived nearby, and couldn’t be bothered finishing his route. Oh well. At least the bus was relatively warm and comfortable, despite the incredibly drunk passengers.

When we got to Porirua, everyone else got off the bus and went home, having travelled for free. They transferred us to a cold train, and then charged us the full fare from Waikanae, because I was too stunned to lie fast enough. We got home two hours late, and with a deep grudge against Metlink.

As for Daniel, when I stepped on the bus I noticed that he’d vanished. I hope whoever picked him up likes guns.

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