The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Layla La La La

There are only four of us in the bus. The driver and I smile as I show him my pass, and I take a seat on the left side and gaze out into the winter. The radio is on rather loudly for a bus, but it seems a reasonable choice for a driver on a very slow route. A high school boy with wild hair in tufts that stick out around his head stays hunched over his phone. He has headphones on and it tapping his foot to music we can’t hear. I am about to listen to music myself, to get lost in songs and the spaces we’ll be crossing. I stop short, however, when Eric Clapton’s “Layla” comes on the radio, because someone begins to sing. It takes me a few minutes of looking at the driver in the mirror above his seat before I realize–he’s not the source of the crooning. Instead, the middle-aged man in front of me, just behind the driver, has begun to sing. He belts it out, unashamed, unencumbered by the social pressure of the scant passengers behind him.

I put my own music away, since I feel I’m in the thick of a performance, and a rather good one at that. The next song he also knows, though I don’t recognize it. I listen politely as we pass through a tiny, hilly town. He doesn’t know the words to “Rock the Casbah,” so the singing ceases and the man gathers his things. As the bus slows to a stop, he has a low, quick chat with the driver, who calls out that he’ll “see ya next week,” as our soulful passenger shuffles out into the snowstorm.


5 comments on “Layla La La La

  1. billgncs
    February 9, 2015

    Your story reminds me of 1982, when I was on rugby tour, my first time outside of the US. We were riding a bus in London when an old codger steps on. He was very old, mottled with the marks of time and his clothes which looked like they were once fine were now tattered. He stood in the front of the bus talking to himself playing both sides of the play he was now living. I asked him if he would like my seat, but he declined noticing we were yanks. The rest of the ride he stood in the front of the bus and recited poetry, Kipling and Tennyson boldly declared.

    Now over thirty years later I still wonder about him, who he had been, perhaps we saw the faint light of a fallen star.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      February 10, 2015

      Oh, I love this! Want to share it with a pic as a guest post?!

      • billgncs
        February 10, 2015

        I don’t have any bus pics from the way back, but I’d be glad to share the story. Let me know how I can help.

  2. joannerambling
    February 10, 2015

    I liked this

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