A Rhetorical Question

Short story by Sha’Tara

“Don’t mean to pry but that’s three buses you let go by. You look at them, stare inside then you sit down again.”

“Yes, you’re right. I wanted to ride around town but I really have no clue about these buses. I don’t even know how to pay to ride.”

“Oh! My name is Amelia. How come you know nothing about city bus transit?”

“My name is Ben, pleased to meet you. I just came in on a train down from Slago.”

“Slago? What’s a Slago?”

“It’s actually a place no one’s heard of unless they live in Slago, with the possible exception of some lowly clerk in the revenue service.”

“Slago… that’s some name for a town.”

“Slago’s not a town Mel. It’s an abandoned gopher hole in the middle of a forest, half of which is dead due to a wild fire two summers ago.”

“You called me Mel. Why is it that everybody when they hear my name, they have to call me Mel?”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t give a damn, really. It was a rhetorical question. You do know about those?”

“Rhetorical question? I’ll ask you one: can you introduce me to these labyrinthine buses if I buy you dinner, or are you working today, or otherwise engaged?”

“That is not a rhetorical question; it begs a few answers.”

“So I don’t know what a rhetorical question is. Do you have any answers for me?”
“Sure, OK. No, I’m not working today, I was going to do some shopping. I can explain some bus basics, get you started. It’s not rocket science. Think: if the bozos you bump into on the sidewalks can do it, hey! And yes, I’ll accept your dinner invitation. Do I get to pick the restaurant?”

“You’ll have to, I don’t know anything about this city.”

How was I to know that a simple conversation in a bus stop would deliver a fun day, a great dinner, a whirlwind romance, two children, a house with an unaffordable mortgage, a philandering, abusive drinking husband and a bitter divorce eleven years later? How’s that for a rhetorical question.

31 thoughts on “A Rhetorical Question

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Well, some of it is… but I left it all behind to “become the crack that lets the light in other people’s lives. Some call us broken…

      Reply
      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Three strikes for me, Hype. But now I’m sure the “lesson” is permanent. Never mind playing, I don’t even go to the ball game.

      2. Hyperion

        Me neither, Sha’Tara. I’ve been told that relationships are highly overrated after age 29. Procreation is definitely overrated in my opinion, but one should practice regularly to stay in shape just in case the world needs to be repopulated as a civic duty. 🙄

      1. rawgod

        I grew up using public transit in Winnipeg, and I met a lot of people that way, good people and bad. I saw most of the city, highlights and lowlights. Buses took me anywhere I wanted to go, and a lot of places I regretted going. But I learned. I loved learning…

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        I’m still afraid that buses will take me places where I don’t want to go and drop me off. I have to be in the driver’s seat… now!

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Oh, I agree. That part of the story is true… It taught me, too late, to pay attention when the Teacher YLea said to me, “Trust no one.”

      Reply
  1. George F.

    Fricken hysterical, short, sweet and funny! Like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings, this chance meeting altered the entire course of Mel’s life. I love it!

    Reply
      1. George F.

        I “should” (there are no should’s) …restated, I might enjoy doing brief stories like this as an interlude from my main story. This was well written and fun to read. Meaningful too. How a brief encounter (the butterfly wings) changes the entire course of one persons life. Setting them off onto an unalterable, unexpected trajectory. Loved it.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        I had been watching “Last Love” – Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy – and it twigged some memories (they met on a bus in the story – great love story for anyone who’s into that) so with a bit of this, bit of that, out came this micro short story. Probably the shortest I’ve ever written and the one posted that got the most rapid-fire responses. Finished it after midnight while watching the movie, then had it posted by 12:30. The bloggosphere is conducive to short bits of writing. I’ve also shortened my “Manifesto” blog posts. One trick is to NOT BE REPETITIVE. I’m also reading the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich and although they hilariously depict the life of the “bounty hunter from hell” they are too repetitive and predictable (predictability is one of my own writing faults, reason being that as soon as I start a story my mind jumps to the conclusion automatically, then I have to fill in the rest). There are about twenty novels in the Stephanie Plum series and if you’ve read three, you’ve basically read them all. I think some writers get too comfortable with a pattern. Can’t fault you on that, I’ve never found a pattern in “Random Walk”!

      3. George F.

        I’m trying to avoid patterns, and avoid the cliché, but at some point I have to get linear and proceed with the story, after which, I’m afraid, it will become predictable. You know, A leads to B leads to C. But glad you’re enjoying it so far!!

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Sadly true, and this having caused an increase in homelessness, now some psychopathic mayor in California is attempting to set up concentration camps for the homeless, criminalizing their plight. Spending more money on prison type institutions when rebuilding would be cheaper. Nice world we live in.

      Reply
  2. rawgod

    She should have known he was conning her, as soon as he called her Mel. They don’t use shortforms in Slago, lol.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you again. A small part of it was inspired by watching “Last Love” with Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy” which I consider a very good movie. Some of it was autobiographical, in a way.

      Reply

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