Keith got on the bus and then immediately fell asleep. He woke up well past his usual stop, in an unfamiliar area of town.
He wasn’t concerned. It would be easy enough to hop off and take the same bus back in the direction of home. As he prepared to leave, the driver, who recognized him, asked him if he was sure that’s what he wanted to do.
“Next one doesn’t come for awhile,” cautioned the driver.
“That’s alright,” said Keith. “I’m not in any hurry.”
Keith stepped onto the pavement and crossed the street. He checked his watch. “No problem,” he told himself, and settled onto the bench to wait.
An hour passed. Keith got up to check the schedule on the pole beside the bus shelter. “I’ve never seen that before,” he muttered. The sign listed the arrivals for all the bus numbers except the one that Keith wanted. Under the column for his bus, the sign read “As Necessary”.
Maybe it was time to call for a cab. Keith looked at his phone, but was rewarded with no service bars. He began to look very carefully at his surroundings. He was defiantly unfamiliar with the place.
But no matter, perhaps he could use somebody else’s phone. He walked up to the door of an apartment near the bus stop and picked a random number to buzz.
There was an answer. “Hello?” said a garbled voice through the speaker.
“Hi,” said Keith. “My name’s Keith and I’ve missed my bus. I was wondering if you could let me in to use your phone?”
There was a pause, then an affirmative reply. “Of course,” said the voice. “Come on up.”
There was a tone, and Keith heard the click of the door unlocking. He made a note of the apartment number he’d contacted and entered the building. He made it to the dim hallway of the correct floor and, before he could knock, a door opened.
It was an attractive woman. She called Keith over. “You need the phone?” she asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Keith replied.
She waved him into her flat. “There sure are a lot of you missing that bus,” she told him.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“The 299?” she said. “You’re definitely not the first one who’s done exactly what you’re doing right now.”
“I see,” said Keith warily. “Just how many of us have there been?”
The woman hesitated. “Enough,” she answered cryptically. “Would you like some tea while you wait?”