On the Buses

 
 

With student misbehaviour causing constant interruptions to transport services to UCD, Slightly Mollified is tasked with stepping in and sorting things out

The inspector from Donnybrook Garage has lent me his hat for the occasion, and it really does feel appropriate.

BusIt’s a Soviet Commissar-style thing; a tall peak with a brim wide enough to eat a meal from. Before I left the house earlier in the evening, I made sure that Mammy Mollified burnished the brass Dublin Bus badge on the front to within an inch of its life, and now it looks the business. As I stride purposefully across the grass by the Student Bar, it’s all I can do, both as a result of costume and natural inclination, to prevent myself breaking into a GDR-esque goosestep down the concourse. But there still might be opportunity for that later.

I’m delighted with myself for ensuring that Mollified & Mollified Inc. have secured the contract for this little number. In reflection, the pitch was easier than I thought. Donnybrook’s Chief Inspector was dubious at first, but when I outlined things to him in his office, he began to come around to my way of thinking.

I use “office”, of course, in the loosest sense of the word. I’m sure the man has indeed worked from home at one point or another in the past, so it wasn’t all that unethical of me to have confronted him in his living room the previous evening. With a meticulously-sharpened HB pencil pressed lightly against his jugular.

Still, that’s the cut and thrust of entrepreneurship, and I do need to carve out a career for myself when my decade-long sojourn as an Arts undergraduate eventually comes to an end. In fact, that’s exactly the witty turn of phrase I used in explaining to the transport official why I felt my new company should be hired to solve UCD’s bus difficulties.

“But,” he gasped, once he’d eventually calmed down a little and stopped shaking, “even if I do say yes and you let me go, what on earth could this one-man show of yours actually do to solve things?”

“Ah, well that’s the thing, you see,” I replied, idly rolling the pencil across my palm. “I’m exactly what you need.”

“You?!”, he replied, incredulously. “You’re nothing but a student hack!”

“That’s were you’re wrong, Inspector Hostage!”, I exclaimed. “What this situation needs isn’t simply someone who can get things done, it’s someone who also knows just the right people. It’s all a matter of contacts…”

I let the words hang for a moment in the suburban quiet, and then continued.

“Over my years of student journalism, I’ve come across more than a few interesting characters. Give me a free hand in this, and I absolutely guarantee you that I can solve your campus problems in a single evening.”

He eventually said yes, of course. They usually do. Now it’s twenty hours later, and yours truly is about to kick-off his very own careers week.

As I near the 10 bus stop, I can see I have my work cut out for me. It’s just after half-ten, and the usual assortment of adolescent student miscreants have dragged themselves out of the warm fug of the Student Bar and apartment parties. Almost everyone has alcohol of some sort clutched in their hands, and I can even see one reprobate doing his level best to deep-throat a full bottle of Buckfast. God bless our country cousins. No matter; my guest list for tonight will serve admirably.

As I reach the stop, I can see the crowd staring suspiciously at me. It’s time to make my presence felt.

If this were a dinner party, I’d politely tap a butter knife against the side of a glass to get their attention. It isn’t though – it’s a windswept South Dublin approximation of an Eastern Bloc airport, so other means will have to suffice. I grasp the meatiest looking Ag Science student I can see and bodily heave him against the side of the bus stop. The hollow metallic clang as an immovable object meets a thick skull gets their interest all right.

I stride forward, leaving my dazed-looking victim to sit up and wonder whether he’s pulled before they’ve even arrived in Copper’s.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Bruce Forsyth!”

They instinctively snigger, before one of the Pulse testosterone bags whose salaries I’ve just offered to double steps forward with the BBC presenter in tow. The laughter tails off as they realise that he really is here. I might have overdone myself here, but there’s nothing like a touch of class.

Brucey looks nervous, but he’ll do the job. I know he will, because I’ve made it quite clear that I won’t be stitching his pacemaker back in until I’m happy with his performance.

He clears his throat, his foxy white moustache twitching, and speaks.

“Thank you, thank you!”, he begins, forgetting for a moment that he hasn’t got Tess Daly holding his geriatric hand now. “Our first guest tonight is very, very special. All the way on temporary loan from United States Military Detention Centre Fort Huge, it’s a lovely little lady with a neat line in dog training! Please welcome Private First Class (Dishonourably Discharged) Stacey H. Goonbaker, III!”

Most of the yokels and So-Co airheads at the bus stop don’t seem to get the reference, which fails to surprise me. Newspapers don’t tend to have much utility to these types beyond the medium of rolling paper. They rapidly get the point though, as Goonbaker lunges forward with her Alsatian in tow.

She’s been out of practice for quite a while – ever since the war crimes trial, in fact – but, boy, she hasn’t lost the magic. In an instant, the mass is cringing up against the walls of the bus stop, Fido snarling furiously at the end of his rope. Goonbaker’s eagerly making ready to start stripping our prisoners and arranging them in her patented human pyramid sculptures when I gesture for her to halt. I think it’s time to switch to more persuasive tactics.

Stepping forward again, I signal for Brucey to continue. “And now everybody… it’s time for our favourite part of the evening: getting on the bus!”

The crowd starts obligingly making for the nearest double-decker, casting nervous glances at the lurking form of Goonbaker, when I bellow for them to halt.

“Not that bus! That bus!!”

They follow my pointed figure over to where a rather different looking bus sits forlornly behind the line of pristine Dublin Bus vehicles. Different is indeed the only word for the thing.

It looks like a giant Mechano construction; all bare metal framework and exposed wiring. It doesn’t even have a roof, but I’m not too concerned. Comfort isn’t really the name of the game this evening. The pimped-out bus is exactly what I was looking for, and God knows I paid enough to the body-makers in Clare to alter it. I remind myself that you have to spend money to make money, as I select a victim from the crowd waiting hesitantly by the steps of my bus.

“You!” I growl. “Pee on it!”

The callow-faced student gawps back at me, uncomprehending, until Goonbaker’s mutt rears up on its hind legs, snarling. Panicked, the inebriated scholar stumbles forward to the side of the bus and obediently unzips his flies.

The instant his stream of watered-down Tuborg hits the metalwork, there’s a flash of bright light. My unwilling volunteer is physically picked up and flung backwards by the force of the electric shock. As a faint sizzling sound lingers in the air, I turn to face the rest of the group.

“Just try it,” I invite, as sweetly as I can. “Anything you like, not just bodily fluids. Lager, wine, alcopops… so much as moisten the paintwork and you’ll be halfway to being a mentally-impaired Florida Death Row inmate before you can blink.”

It’s a real Road to Damascus moment. Immediately, I catch the sound of smashing class and aluminium clinking as bottles and cans are dropped to the ground post-haste. Sheepishly, the crowd straightens its clothing and lines up meekly for the trip to Harcourt Street.

I love it when a plan comes together. As I saunter happily home later, past the ongoing construction works around the Science Building, I begin to ponder Mollified & Mollified branching out into the construction industry. Onwards and upwards; that’s the name of the business game.

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