A fox, eyes glittering, reflecting back in the headlights of the few cars that pass at 3am. He sits upright, primly at the front of a non-existent queue, for all the world as if he is waiting to catch the next bus to somewhere more interesting than this street of shuttered shops and dark terraced houses.
A dog lead and collar, red leather, small studs on the collar.
The lead is looped neatly around the timetable post, secure, safe, no possibility of the dog slipping free, running blindly into the traffic,tied with care, with love.
The absence of dog feels somehow more real in the half light of almost dawn.
A pair of f**k me shoes, red, patent leather, impossible heels. I can see the owner, feet on fire, insteps throbbing, a plaster dug out from the deepest recesses of a tiny bag, failing to cover the blistered heel, falling into the bus stop and in a moment of loathing, slipping the shoes off.
Feet, fake tanned, toe nails painted to match her dress, liberated, wriggling in delight on the cold dirty pavement and the shoes, rejected, left behind, on sentry duty at the night bus stop.
The couple have rowed and not yet made up. He stands outside, smoking another cigarette to keep his hands, his mouth busy. She holds her phone, but too drunk to text somebody, anybody, stares bleary eyed at the tiny luminous screen.
The blue glow lights up her face and when he looks, from the corner of his eye, he can see signs of ageing that weren’t there last year.
They are both silent, contemplating the journey home and the awkward paying off of the baby sitter.
He knows that she will clatter around the kitchen, clumsily preparing breakfast.
She knows that he will pretend to be asleep when she finally comes to bed.
They both know that they will sleep through the alarm clock.
A thermos flask and a tupperware container, containing one triangle of ham sandwich. She knows this, because, unable to contain her curiosity, she opened the box.
The sandwich is neat, cut with a sharp knife, white sliced bread, ham, butter, a mans’ sandwich.
The thermos flask is elderly with a green checked pattern, she unscrews the lid and sniffs, the aroma of slightly stewed milky tea takes her immediately back to picnics with her grandparents.
Anorak wearing, brisk walking picnics, the dog waiting for her brother to drop his crusts on the floor.
For a moment, she considers scooping up the flask and taking it home, but then, finally, her bus comes, so, instead, she carries away the scent of staling bread and weak tea.
It is raining and I am forced inside the bus shelter and there nested between a KFC jumbo chicken box and a tray of congealing curry sauce and chips is a book, paper back, well used, pages turned down, spine starting to break.
“women are from venus, men are from mars”
I decide that this is a sign, an omen and take the book home, resolving to read it carefully and look for answers wherever I can find them.
One pearl earring, delicate, expensive, the pearl set in gold. It is shining in the street lights.
In the morning, pecked by disappointed pigeons and pushed by busy work time feet, it will have rolled into the gutter and be lost among fast food wrapper and autumn leaves.
The three boys, 12 or 13, surely too young to be out so late are looking at the mobile phone, fallen from a pocket and now under a seat. They are wiling the thick set man not to notice what has happened and are already re-telling the find as a daring street robbery
” i walked right up to him, innit and i says, gimme the phone blood”
The bus comes, the man gets on and as the pulls away, the oldest child has dive under the seat and grabbed the phone. They run down the street although there is no-one to chase them.