Bus number 181 was chillier than expected. Usually at this time of year these stretched out vehicles are hotter than a sauna in the desert. But today the bus was quite empty so that would explain a lot. No out-of-control kids running around spilling ice cream and biting people’s legs, and no teenagers hanging out in the back listening to music so loud every one else can hear.

As the bus accelerated out from the bus stop, going far over the speed limit, Stefan started mumbling something. We were both a bit slow in whatever movement we tried to do because of last nights heavy drinking and our minds were in such a stage where you can control neither your thoughts nor your mouth, so nothing you do makes sense.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I said; what the hell do retired people do all day?” Stefan said while barely finding enough energy to lift his hand and point at an old lady outside, dressed in a warm coat and hat despite it being June.

“Can you answer that?” he continued.

“Nope, don’t know” I rasped with a voice tasting of beer and toothpaste.

“They get up at like 6.30 am, cue outside the grocery store 15 minutes before it opens, and buy some prune juice, a biscuit and a newspaper. Then they go home, have a little ‘fiesta’ with a three legged cat as only company while reading the paper. That’s one hour. What the hell do they do the rest of the 14-15 hours of the day?”

“Don’t know. Maybe they find a piece of wood on their way home and carve a new walking stick out of it. Or maybe they finish a crossword puzzle by using solely the words ‘Oh Lord’, ‘Oh dear’ and ‘coffee sweetener’. Or maybe by souping up their walkers” I replied.

“Mm, maybe” Stefan said quietly, still looking out the window. All people you could see outside was wearing shorts and t-shirts. Some people wore even less. But yet another elderly lady appears around the corner, dressed to impress in a heavy coat and fur hat. “Sounds boring” Stefan spelled out a minute or so later.

“Mmhm” I mumbled.

“Mm”, Stefan mumbled back.

“Yep”, I said just to fill out the empty room of air that was created by the silence. None of us really had the energy to talk anymore, but none of us could stand it being silent either.

“Getting old must be crap” Stefan’s mouth hatched a few minutes later.

His head was still facing the window. I thought he had fallen a sleep at first. But as we were about to pull over by our destination, he turned towards me. Red eyes, one eyelid more open then the other, a head full of absolutely nothing.

“Move, we’re getting off” he said and slapped me on the forehead.

“What are you doing?! Take it easy! Be quiet!” I said in a strict voice while dragging my feet down the grey floor towards the door. Stefan laughed. We had not cracked that inside joke for a while.

We stepped of the bus, instantly getting punched in the face by the heat.

“Who’s idea was this?”

“Yours!” Stefan answered.

There were cars everywhere on the parking lot in front of us. Yellow, red, blue, black, green, white, grey and burgundy metallic coloured cars. The license plates read NBL 383, ARV 246, XDK 601 and so on.

“Right. Just checking” I said.

“You were the one who wanted to get some more drinks so we can go out tonight again” Stefan said while we started cruising through the long parking lot. As usual I stepped only on the lines between the cement tiles. I wouldn’t call it an obsession. I prefer conscious choice.

“Yeah, yeah. Come on, it’s over here” I said and we walked in to the shop.

“Look, they’re everywhere! Old people walking around like they own the place, having their old-people-manners and throwing their old-people-looks at every one they think have ‘done them wrong’ by not giving up their seats on the tube or by buying the last pack of extra soft toilet tissue right in front of them. Why are they even in here? Don’t they collapse if they drink alcohol?” Stefan said, obviously too tired to bother if anyone heard him.

“They might do. Ask him over there” I said and nodded towards an old man in his 70’s, maybe 80’s, scanning the isles for some premium box wine.

“I will” my hung-over friend said and walked towards the man, who had his reading glasses on the tip of his nose. It was probably just window glass in them, but his optician insisted that they worked, so he believed it. Like the Placebo effect.

“Excuse me Scroodge, can I just ask what an old, retired geezer like you does all day?” Stefan asked the man without not even making an effort to look interested. The man took a step back and almost knocked down a whole stack of wine bottles behind him when he saw Stefan, probably because of his breath. The same as I had; beer and toothpaste.

“W-w-what?” the old timer looked a bit scared.

“You heard me. What the hell do you do all day? Do you sit at home and think about how much money you could have got on Dickinson’s real deal for your old gallbladder you kept after your operation in 1876, or do you polish your comb until shining clean, just so you can fix a nice looking comb over before you kiss your Margaret Thatcher poster goodnight?”, Stefan kept questioning the man, still with the same tired, not bothered voice as earlier.

The man did not even get the chance to think up an answer before Stefan got sick of waiting.

“You know what, never mind. Here take this, it’s almost like prune juice. Now go home to your crippled cat and live life like every other kid out there”, I heard Stefan say before walking back over to me. “Let’s just pay and go, I’ve had it with these old people”, he said.


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