Stranger on the Bus

How often do we look at people sitting close to us in public and wonder about their personal history? Where were they born, what did they do for a living, do they speak another language? Faces don’t give away much information, dress doesn’t help much either these days.

I keep pushing at these small points of uncertainty, because in story-telling it’s a neat ploy to cast the cloak of anonymity over a character till they are ready to play their part. Will the fate of the entire tale rest on the bumblings of an idiot? Is there a Borgia lurking nearby, or a princess in deep disguise, waiting for a Prince, possibly also incognito, to break the spell with a kiss. Two happy people for the price of one story.

Propriety in public advises against walking up to someone and making direct inquires. A Scotsman when so approached, in answer to the question, “Who are you?” will likely reply, if he’s the real McKay, “A’m fine. Hoo’s yourself?”

The story maker for the sake of the drama in the plot does much the same. Different reason, you say, but maybe not, it’s about timing, not niceties. Can’t let the cat out of the bag too soon, can’t reveal the nature of the poison or its antidote before the cast is written into position, or break the lovers’ spell on a busy bus, most inappropriate.

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