Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #45- Lost Soul

Lost Soul

 man-in-suit

“Sir? Is that your bus?” the woman asked, pointing through the door.

He looked at her with a blank expression.

“I – I don’t know,” he said. “Am I riding the bus?”

“Let me see your ticket.”

She pointed to the item clutched in his right hand. He held it up and she took it from him.

“Oh, no hon this is one way from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love. Are you waiting for someone to pick you up?”

She handed him back his ticket.

“I don’t know. This is Philadelphia? The one in Pennsylvania?”

Her expression changed and she frowned.

“Yeah, the one in Pennsylvania. Do you want me to call someone?”

“I don’t know anyone.”

“What’s your name? Maybe someone sent a car for you.”

He opened his mouth to answer and shut it without uttering a word. His brow furrowed and several moments passed before he said anything.

“I have no idea.”

Her concern ratcheted up another notch and she placed her hand on his arm.

“That’s okay. Let’s check your ID. Where’s your wallet?”

His face relaxed as he reached inside his jacket. His hand was empty when he withdrew it.

“I guess I lost it.”

“Stand up and check your pants pockets,” she encouraged.

His hair was well styled, his nails manicured and the suit certainly tailored. Not someone she would have expected to lose his wallet, much less his memory.

“All my pockets are empty,” he said.

Her concern was blossoming into worry. There wasn’t a mark on him, his clothes were neither dirty nor torn and his hair was pristine. It didn’t appear that he had been mugged.

“Why don’t you come with me,” she said. “My name’s Monique and I work here.”

“Thank you, Monique. I apologize that I cannot give you my name.” He paused and said, “But I do know I work in Los Angeles.”

Monique smiled. “That’s a start. How about I call you Robert, until we find out what your real name is.

His lips succumbed to a partial smile. “Robert is good,” he said. “For now.”

“Well, Robert, follow me.” She led him across the station to a door with a window and a sign that read ‘Security’. A man with ‘Steve’ stitched on his shirt sat behind a desk inside the office. He stood up and opened the door when he saw Monique.

“What’s up?”

“This gentleman seems to have lost his ID,” she started, “And, umm, his memory. I think we need to call someone. For now we’re calling him Robert.”

“Okay, Robert, have a seat.”

Monique followed him into the office. She and Robert took seats opposite Steve in plastic chairs. Steve picked up the phone and punched a number on the keypad.

“Yeah, this is SO Billings at the Downtown terminal. I’ve got a male, early forties, no ID and no memory … no, he’s definitely not homeless … okay, no, he’s fine here with us. We’ll wait. Thank you.”

Steve dropped the phone back onto the cradle.

“Philly’s finest is sending out two of their officers but it might be a while,” he said.

“They’ll be here in seventeen minutes,” said Robert.

Monique and Steve stared at him.

“How do you know?” Steve said.

Robert returned their looks. “I don’t know, but two officers will arrive at ten-forty two.”

“I don’t suppose you have tonight’s winning lottery numbers tucked away, do you?” said Steve.

“No,” said Robert.

“Just ignore him,” said Monique, placing her hand back on Robert’s arm. “You said you worked in Los Angeles. Is there anything else you remember?”

Robert looked at her for a moment and blinked as if he had not understood the question. Then he said, “Your favorite ice cream is rocky road but you don’t eat it because the nuts hurt your teeth.”

Monique pulled her hand back and stared at Robert with her mouth open.

“The only person who knows that is my boyfriend,” she said, eyes wide. “Wait a minute.” Her eyes narrowed and she gave Robert a hard look. “Jared put you up to this, didn’t he?”

“No, but he’ll be here twenty-two minutes after the police officers, at eleven oh four.”

Monique scooted her chair away from Robert.

“Why would he come here? He works all the way in downtown and we don’t have plans.”

“Don’t listen to this bullshit,” said Steve. “This guy don’t even know his own name.”

“I know about Rachel,” said Robert. “So does Cynthia.”

The color drained from Steve’s face.

“More bullshit. There’s no way – .”

Monique turned to Steve. “You’re sleeping with Rachel? Jesus, Steve, she’s a kid. Cynthia’s going to kill you!”

“Unfortunately, she’s going to kill both of you. And herself.”

A commotion in the station caught Monique’s attention and she stood up. People were running across the concourse.

“Holy shit, he’s right. It’s Cynthia and she’s got a fucking gun. I’m out of here.”

Monique opened the door and the bullet hit her in the center of the chest. She crumpled to the floor in a heap.

“Your whore’s dead, asshole and you’re next,” yelled a red faced woman holding a pistol.

One slug hit Steve in the neck and the second in the face. As he hit the floor the woman placed the gun against her chest and pulled the trigger. She joined her two victims on the floor.

Robert held out his hand to Monique. She rose from the floor, turned and looked down at her body then at Robert.

“My time was too short,” she said. “I wasn’t ready.”

“I know,” said Robert. “You are a good person, but your purpose was finished.”

“What about them?” She motioned toward Steve.

“I don’t know. I’m only here for you. We should go.”

“Okay. Am I going to Heaven?”

“Sort of. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.”

The two faded as the sirens closed in on the bus station and a hulking black shadow appeared in the office.

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