STORY
Liverpool, Summer 1962 in the late afternoon. The bus was parked outside of the English Electric Factory close to Gillmoss Garage. A metal chain was stretched across the platform of the bus to stop any passengers getting on. The driver and the conductor were sitting inside the bus, talking about Hollywood and film stars. Both men were in their early twenties. 'Vera Hruba Ralston is her full name', the driver said with a wicked grin. 'She's married to Herbert J Yates, Head of Republic Studios. She also competed in the 1936 Olympic Games. Ice skater! OK, Pilgrim?' 'OK, Jake, I can't beat you', said the conductor, laughing. The driver lit a cigarette. He inhaled before blowing a perfect smoke ring into the air. The conductor checked his watch, then he re-set the fare stage on his Ultimate Ticket Machine for the next journey. He went upstairs to the front of the bus and rewound the destination indicator to show the 'Pier Head.' When he came down to the lower deck again the driver blew another perfect smoke ring. The conductor aimed an elastic band at it, splitting it in half. The two halves of the the smoke floated up to the ceiling of the bus before dissipating and being sucked out of the open window. 'Listen Jake, why don't you write a book about all of these film stars? You know, like Alan Ladd and Humphrey Bogart? The conductor pulled a well practised Bogart-like grimace. The driver rubbed his chin thoughtfully. 'I will write a book one day' he said. 'I don't know what it will be about yet though. Oh well, time to go, Okie!' The driver removed the metal chain to allow access for the passengers that had formed an orderly queue between the barriers. He climbed into the driver's seat and waited for the bus to fill up. The bell rang twice. He checked his driving mirrors. The bus edged out onto the East Lancs Road. The conductor began to collect the fares. Summer, Liverpool 2006. Waterstone's Bookshop in Bold Street. A book signing is well advertised in the shop window. It reads, 'Meet the famous author.' The same two men from the Nineteen Sixties are talking to the bookshop manager. 'That just about does it', the manager said, smiling broadly. 'If you could just sign these last few pre-ordered books for me.' The ex-bus driver obliged and he signed the books with a practised hand. 'I'm an overnight success after twenty years', he joked, laughing heartily. The ex-bus driver and the ex-conductor walked out of the shop into the street. 'Do you want a lift, Okie? My car's just around the corner.' 'No thanks Jake. I can get the train just up there from Central Station.' 'I'll walk up with you. Are you sure about the lift?' 'I've got my pass, thanks!' The ex-conductor laughed. A group of children were passing by, laughing and joking. One of the boys recognised one of the men. 'There's that Brian Jacques! You know the feller that writes those Redwall books. Look there's his photo in the shop window. I'm going to write a book meself!' 'Yeah, I am as well,' another boy shouted. 'How hard can it be?'


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By Briant Briant


This story was added on 28th April 2011

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