Once upon a time an old gentleman was taking the evening bus back home after a long and tiring day at work. It was an old bus dating from the 1950s. It had wooden benches facing each other so that passengers sat either face to face or back to back – depending of course on which bench you were sitting on.


The old man took his usual seat and prepared himself for the long journey home. At last, it was Friday, and he looked forward to a peaceful weekend. There was no one else on the bus except for a middle-aged woman sitting nearby, reading her newspaper.


Rocked by the gentle swaying to and fro of the moving vehicle the old man shut his eyes for a while to catch forty winks.


His slumber was soon to be disturbed when at the next stop two very beautiful young ladies came in and sat on the bench opposite him. They were in their early twenties, exquisitely made up and obviously going to a really fancy party or some classy celebration. The old man wished wistfully that he were forty years younger and going to the same event.


Minutes later, one of them commented on the heat in the bus, then almost in unison, they un-buttoned their overcoats revealing different dresses yet identical in that they both featured such a low and generous décolletage that it left little to the imagination.


The old man looked politely to his left and noticed the middle-aged woman raise her eyebrows in horror. Yet she said nothing.


His eyes looked to the front and he was aware that he was staring. He felt his face go red. He glanced out of the window for a while, and then unintentionally looked forward once again. It was obvious he was more embarrassed than the two beauties in front. He didn’t know what to do for the best. He couldn’t just move seat; that would be too obvious.


He was about to look away once again when one of the young women said in a loud voice “What are you staring at?”


He started to mumble something, when the other young woman joined in “You should be ashamed. Ogling at us like that!”


Affronted he certainly was. For it was no intention of his to admire what was freely on display. He was about to apologise when he suddenly stopped, leaned forward towards one of the women and said “Madam, I think you should have this small lump checked by a doctor, it may well be breast cancer.”


“What?” said the woman, “What are you talking about?”


“I should know, madam” the old man replied gently, “I am a retired doctor”.


“Don’t listen to him,” said her companion in disdain.


The old man pointed at the second girl’s right arm and said calmly, “and you madam, should have that skin discolouration seen to. It could well be malignant”


“What do you mean malignant?”


“It could be skin cancer,” he replied knowingly.


The two girls fell silent. They buttoned their overcoats. Minutes later the bus stopped and they got off.


As the bus drove away, the old man looked at them standing in the street, anxiously looking at the first girl’s breast, then at the arm of the second one.


He was about to doze off once again when the middle-aged woman, who had witnessed the whole event said, “It’s lucky you’re a doctor. You probably saved those girl’s lives you know!”


“Oh I’m not a doctor,” he replied with a smile, “but I certainly ruined their evening!”


© Victor S. E. Moubarak 2008


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