Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Little Respect

Originally published on my self-hosted blog May 27, 2007.

Little Respect

“You’ll never guess what I’m doing right now,” the twenty-something woman with the long reddish-blonde hair sitting across from Lela said.

Lela shifted uncomfortably in her bus seat and directed a casual look out the window. She wasn’t eavesdropping, exactly; eavesdropping was rude, wasn’t it? But how could she not listen to the young woman’s conversation when the rest of the bus riders were relatively minding their own business and being quiet for a change.

“No, guess again,” cell-phone girl said with a smile.

Her friend, Joanne, sitting on her left, poked her in the arm. She gave Lela a sideways glance and then nodded toward the girl.

Lela answered with an imperceptive nod and tried to relay a silent message with her expression to stop bringing attention to them and not listen to the girl’s conversation.

Joanne didn’t take the hint and openly stared at the girl.

Cell-phone girl laughed. “No dope, not that … I’m on the bus for Christ sakes. Get your filthy mind out of the gutter.” The girl noted Joanne’s stare and with a grimace, twisted away from the two older women.

Lela noticed small spots of cherry red appear on the girl’s cheeks. She again glanced away and sighed. Young people nowadays … did they have no shame? Though she didn’t know what the person on the other end of the phone had suggested, she could imagine it wasn’t what a good Christian person would have said. She hated cell phones. No one bothered with privacy anymore. Cell phone users no longer cared about tact and diplomacy and treated any public venue like their own personal phone booth.

“So .. Friday night,” the girl said. “What exactly is the plan? Hang out at Brees? Or is Autumn having a party at her house? Oh, and what about Slade? He’s not hanging with us this weekend, is he?”

Lela couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose in distaste. Those names. How silly. What ever happened to good old fashion names like Mary, and Sally or even John? She issued a long-suffering sigh and leaned her head against the glass of the window. John. She missed her John.

“Hang on a sec, Trent,” the girl placed the tiny phone against her chest. Lela looked toward the girl and noticed she was glaring at Joanne. “What’s up, grandma? Hear anything exciting?” She snorted in the most rude way and continued, “A little privacy, please?”

Lela couldn’t help herself; she snickered at the girl’s words. She stiffened when she saw the girl shift her unnaturally bright blue eyes toward her.

“What’s your problem, you old hag,” the girl snarled.

Lela glanced down at her gloved hands and felt tears gather in the corners of her eyes. What happened to common decency? She couldn’t imagine any of her four girls talking like that to an elder. No one had any respect anymore. It was all about them and their needs and wants.

“Yeah I thought so, bitch.” The girl brought the phone back up to her ear and said in loud and icy tones. “Sorry. I’ve got two old biddies giving me the evil eye.” She shot Joanne and Lela a hateful look before bursting out laughing. “Yeah, I should. I really should. That’d really give ‘em something to write home to the grandkids about.”

The bus suddenly lurched to a stop and the girl stood up. “Wait. Hold that thought. This is my stop. Let me get off this bus of losers so I can hear you.” The girl pushed her way through the five people in front of her and stumbled awkwardly off the bus. As she hopped down the last stair, she tripped and nearly fell flat on her face. A woman, probably in her mid-thirties, witnessed the whole thing and laughed out loud.

The girl on the sidewalk saw the woman laugh at her and flipped her off. The woman promptly returned the favor and continued to hold the gesture long after the bus pulled away from the curb.

Lela couldn’t help but smile a bit at the woman’s boldness. Joanne again nudged her and giggled under her breath.

The woman turned back around in her seat and addressed Lela and Joanne. “Don’t you hate modern conveniences?” she said with a friendly smile.

Lela returned the smile and nodded shyly. Indeed she did.