They were just putting the man into the ambulance on the corner of Brunswick Street when Pauline Wiseman arrived. She had been lost in thoughts and memories. She was among old men and children. As a policeman moved people on she got a quick look at the man’s face. Had she seen him before? Where had she seen that face before? Perhaps it was the smell of cigarette smoke that brought her back.
A wet October evening in 1972; the 39 bus moved slowly up Manor Street towards Brunswick Street. She was a ticket collector in an ill-fitting uniform. It was the height of the rush hour and the cigarette smoke hit her like a fog as she made her way upstairs. The rain beat on the bus windows like a manic drum roll and the smell of wet coats and hats lingered just below the smell of cigarettes. There was the usual loud chatter, rustling newspapers and laughing children. She gave somebody a ticket and was about to move on when she realized she’d dropped something and it wasn’t a ticket. She looked around. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a foot slip into the aisle and gather it in. She knew at once. A pound note. She would have to put a pound note in herself at the end of the night. Tickets and money had to balance. Of course they might give it back. She knew who picked it up, but it would be her word against his. She went to where he sat and looked down at him. He smiled at her. He was in his twenties and as innocent as the day that poured rain. She couldn’t say anything , he would have talked all over her. He got off the bus at Brunswick Street. She thought to herself he would have nothing but bad luck in later life. She tried hard not to make it a wish.
As the ambulance pulled away she saw an old man standing beside her.
“What happened?” Pauline asked.
“Well, according to one of the kids he saw a five Euro note on the road, went out to pick it up and a 39 bus going back to the garage came around the corner and hit him. It wasn’t his lucky day after all. He’ll be alright. More shock than anything else.” The old man answered.
What goes around comes around, Pauline thought.