Monday, 13 April 2009
We were given enough money for our bus fare in the morning covering the journey to and from school and as we returned home at dinner time for a home cooked meal we were given the same amount for the afternoon journeys which, when added up cost our parents money that could well have done with going towards the house keeping as every penny counted then. Even so if we managed to skip our fare or the conductress mistakenly thought, she had taken it rather than return the money to my mother we would spent it on sweets from the tuck shop but feeling a little guilty too as we handed the money over knowing full well our mother could put it to better use. On one such occasion I decided to spend my ill-gotten gains in the trick shop situated in the main street and although this meant taking a different route to another bus stop I proceeded to carry out my plan when school ended that day. As I ran along the streets I used to pretend I was driving a bus and each pedestrian I passed would be another vehicle in the schoolboy fantasy world within my head. This day being no different although my haste was greater I finally reach the shop (Pat McCluskies) that sold not only the tricks that I wanted, but all the dinky and corgi toys you could imagine plus model airplane kits and all the other toys young schoolboys used to dream of owning. I looked around, eyes agog at all the treasures within, before I asked to see the tricks in the price range that my bus fare would allow. Pat McCluskie placed an array of tricks on the counter and I let my eyes wander from puzzles with nails to stink bombs and the nail through the finger illusion until I eventually decided to go for the sneezing powder. I had seen this stuff before but never close up so when I got outside, I took the top off and had a small sniff to see if it was any good before I tried it on someone else, but it never did anything so disappointed though I was I put it in my pocket and went to the bus stop. I had a few minutes to wait until the bus came so I thought I would have another sniff, thinking it must do something, so taking a deep breath this time I put my nose nearer to the box and inhaled, drawing half the contents of the box right up into my nostrils whereupon I began sneezing and spluttering which started thick mucus to surge from my nose and water to pour from my eyes just as the bus approached. I put the remaining powder in my pocket, brought out my hankie and with one blow of my nose it filled with the thick mucus which continued to spurt out with the constant sneezing caused by the lethal potion in the box. On entering the bus I tried unsuccessfully with my saturated hankie to stem the flow of the gooey mess which by this time also covered my hands but to no avail and when the conductress asked for my fare I could barely stop sneezing long enough to hand over the sticky coins that lay among the phlegm. She did sympathise with me thinking I had a bad dose of the cold as the symptoms suggested, but by the time it came to my stop some ten minutes later the impact of the powder was thankfully beginning to subside to a more bearable sniffle, and as I departed the bus, promptly threw the remains of the box on the ground, vowing to myself never to buy that grotesque stuff again.I rinsed the sodden hankie under a tap until the gunk washed away enough to stop my mother asking any unwelcomed questions and thankfully enough as to prevent her ever finding out about the stolen bus fare (as that is how she would have put it) although another penalty I had to pay for my deceit was walking about for some time with a very damp pocket rubbing my leg as the wet hankie dried within.This was my punishment for depriving my mother of the well needed money I thought, as the strong guilt welled up inside me for the first time since the escapade of fare dodging began but although it stuck in my mind for the rest of my life it did not deter me from spending anymore ill gotten gains when the occasion arose albeit, never again on sneezing powder.