But settling for Mr Good Enough – on the night bus – 12

When people ask and they do, often, how did you two meet and what they really mean is why are you two together, I like to look them full in the face and smile and then I say
“because he is my knight in shining armor and he saved my life” and then quite often, there is a pause and I know that they’re looking at him and I know what they see, because I used to see it to, but they’re wrong and I was wrong and he is my brave knight and he did save my life.

If this was one of those romances, those books with shiny covers, then we would have hated each other when we met and there would have been adventures and problems to solve and by the end we would have grown to love each other and headed off into the sunset together, but this is real life, so it’s not like that, well except for the ending.

Angus was just a guy in the office, bit dull, bit earnest, well, he still is and I wasn’t even interested enough to even dislike him, there wasn’t enough to dislike, he wasn’t even ugly enough to have that weird attraction thing that really ugly men have sometimes.

He was just Angus, bit ginger, bit pale, going a bit bald in his 20s, but never going to shave his head, make a statement of it, couldn’t make a statement about anything really, dressed not so much to impress as to simply cover his body.

His desk was in a block with me and Lizzie and Jade and we were pretty mean to him, well, maybe not mean, just abused his good manners, his kindness, but back then, I didn’t see it as manners or niceness, just saw him as a bit weak, easy to use.

So, there was a lot of
“Angus, just nip to Costas – we need a caffeine hit”
“Angus, it’s raining, will you do the sandwich run”
” Angus, lend us a tenner til Friday”

And he always said yes, so we started making a bit of a game of it, a game called “What can we get Angus to do?”
Lizzie was in the lead, having persuaded him to spend all Sunday assembling a flat pack wardrobe for her, while she lay on the sofa, nursing a killer hangover and occasionally taking unflattering photos of him to add to her FaceBook status and on Monday, when some of the guys were laughing about it at the vending machine
“Angus, go get chocolate now or we will die” , he just ducked his head, smiled and said
“B B But, I like helping people”, did I mention he has a bit of a stutter too?

But, it was December and we’d agreed that the game would finish before Christmas and whoever got Angus to do the most time consuming, most inconvenient, most humiliating task would win and the winner would be treated to sushi by the other two and I love, really love sushi.

And then it struck me, the Christmas do – perfect.
The Christmas do at our place is a pretty big deal, the management hire one of those party venues, there’s a free bar, everyone gets dressed up, it’s a good laugh.

In the four years Angus had worked here, he had never been to the do, Nobody was really interested enough in him to ask why and he never volunteered a reason, so I knew he wouldn’t be going, which made what I was asking even more outrageous.

I built up to it gradually, needed to make sure that he would say yes, so I started dropping little comments;
How no-body lived near me and I would have to travel home alone
How expensive taxis were and how I couldn’t afford one that near Christmas
How the night bus was full of nutters, especially that near the holidays

And then, on the Thursday before the party, I stayed a few minutes behind the other girls and I timed it just right, so there was only me and Angus in the lift and I looked at him and did that special little girl look and said it
“Angus” a wheedling sound
“Angus, could you do me a huge favour, could you meet me after the party and come on the night bus with me, I hate being on the bus on my own?”

Even as I said it, actually heard the words, I knew it was wrong. I wanted him to smile, politely and then refuse, politely, but of course he didn’t.

So, at 2am, when I staggered, well, fell out of the club, there he was, sensible fleecy jacket, woolly hat, waiting for her.

It was a good night, my Karen Millen black dress had done everything I wanted it to, there’d been a lot of flirting, some snogging and I had finally managed to get my grabby hands on Ian from IT, who was surprisingly hot for a geek.

Angus waved when her saw her, a big goofy wave made bigger, goofier by the size of the fleecy mittens he was wearing.
I wobbled over, shivering, because it was bloody cold, but the cold sobered me up a bit and I managed a hello and a blurred smile.

We started walking and my feet were killing me and when he offered his arm, it just easier to grab on and we arrived at the bus stop, which is rammed with refugees from every office party in the world.
Angus was probably the only sober person in a three mile radius and certainly the only 24 year old wearing a fleece with matching mittens.

Our, well, my bus came and it was packed, we fought our way upstairs but there weren’t two seats together, so I fell into a space next to some bloke and Angus was a bit further away, but I could sense him, watching me, keeping an eye on things.

The guy next to me, all spikey hair and tie flopping, twisted away from the shirt buttons was drunk, really drunk and he had a bottle of vodka and a mate, even drunker and we got talking and I had some vodka and I was laughing, not because they were particularly funny, but, you know…

I looked back and everyone else on the bus was loud, clothes, voices, but Angus was silent, upright, staring at me, taking his minder role seriously and I tried to smile, to wave , but i was just too drunk and I fell against spikey haired guy and that jarring woke me up a bit and i shook myself, steadied myself against his shoulder and realised that my stop was coming up.

I looked for Angus, assumed that he’d see me, follow me and spikey hair and his mate were getting off too and the 3 of us, drunk, bit wobbly were on the pavement and that’s where it all went a bit wrong.

I was on drunken automatic pilot, went to go right and suddenly the two men and they were men then, not guys, there was nothing friendly, nothing casual about them, were blocking the path and their faces were still drunken, still blurry, slipping, but there was a meanness about them and I felt scared.

And then I heard him
“S S…stop…..L L L Leave her alone” and it was Angus, and he was running, the bobble on his hat bouncing up and down and there was a moment were everything seemed to stop and then the 3 men were standing, facing eachother and spikey man pushed me, pushed me hard and I fell to the ground, heard the heel of my shoe snap and from the pavement, where I was half lying, half fallen, I looked up and Angus was swinging back his hand, now a fist, still in that stupid mitten and he punched spikey.

Punched him so hard that he went down, hit the kerb with a dull thump and then Angus grabbed me and I was shivering and he was dragging me up the road, away, to safety.

So, when someone saves your life, well, you have to look at them differently and I did.
For the first time I really looked at Angus.
I looked at him that night and the day after and the day after and I liked what I saw.

Not all brave knights have swords and shields, some wear stupid bobble hats and ludicrous mittens, but it doesn’t stop them rescuing maidens.


About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

One response to “But settling for Mr Good Enough – on the night bus – 12

  • Stephen Wright

    Lots and lots of great pieces, but the whole strangely unsatisfying; not being mean, loved the bobble hat moments and the meanness was well observed, but ending too obvious for me x

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