(Warning: strong language and themes)
Ben felt like going for a bus ride. He recalled there was a Business class at some point today at university, but he knew he’d be okay if he missed it, like the other five weeks before it. He’d already been busy setting up his room for several days since moving in to student accommodation. It took him a few days to try to speak to two of his housemates, one a small Chinese girl, the other an Arabic man, and neither really wanted anything to do with him. They probably barely spoke English anyway. Typical foreign students.
He looked around his floor for a shirt, before finding his favourite red singlet he wore yesterday. He slipped on his comfy thongs, and his old school shorts. They fit just the same as they did during his early high school days. Then, he made his way out towards the bus area, shutting the door behind him. He was certain living here was going to work.
The student village had loads of people, most of whom came out in the evenings to get drunk and hang out in ‘The Rabbithole,’ the student name for the common area. Ben spent most of his time there. It had everything: a large TV, bean bags, a ping-pong table, a pool table. During the day (and on evenings when there were no parties) it was empty, but he always tried to speak to people whenever they were there.
It was hard though. If they were playing pool, or if they were international students who were speaking gobbledegook, it was hard for Ben to introduce himself. Then the voices would get in his head telling him how much of a fucking idiot he was. Why did he bother? Often, with the many people he’d talk to, he would eventually say something like “nice day?” to try to start conversation. That’s when many, almost everyone, would give him a strange look, then look at each other and laugh. “Classic Bananahead Ben!” they’d say (his voices kept heckling: “They think you’re a fucking weirdo!"). Sometimes they would ignore him. Sometimes they would tell him to piss off, especially if they were girls. And Ben would feel alone, his hopes shattered, and the voices made sure he knew it.
Ben wandered past the Rabbithole and the noticeboard outside advertising university tutoring, and out the entrance gate, heading across the road to the bus stop. It was more of a park bench surrounded by stones. He sat down, the tips of his toes barely touching the dirt. Still, this was better than the last place.
That was a college. He only really hung out in the courtyard there, as there wasn’t a rabbithole. He often found himself looking up at the sky. Then his eyes would wander to the windows of the main block. There he saw people working, studying, getting dressed. Every window was a life.
But after four weeks he was asked to leave because apparently he was not respecting people’s privacy, and that made them uncomfortable; especially when he watched at night. As he left, a whole bunch of students watched him. He heard one of them say: “Bet you he’s gonna end up in a nuthouse.” (The voices kept speaking: see, told you so). He fucking hated that place.
After that, he had been assigned by the university to speak to a mental health counsellor, Mrs. Lea. Apparently he had some mental condition that affected his social interaction. And Mum had helped get him into the student village. Something about the fact that “he was on a disadvantaged background scholarship… deserved to be given a chance…,” whatever that was. He was surprised she even knew about that, he hadn’t been back to see her since he started his degree three years ago. (She had never come to see you ever since Dad died. Selfish).
So now he was here. A new start. He really hoped it would work (You’ll never make it work Ben).
A big Caucasian man in a business suit came and sat down. Looked like a young guy on some internship. He looked over towards Ben once or twice.
(You’re a weird little shit Ben, that’s what he thinks of you!) Ben put his head down.
The bus arrived. The suit man brushed past and swiped his Opal. Ben ruffled around, paying with his leftover coins (The driver is getting impatient with you. You can’t even fucking pay for a ticket). He sat down near a Chinese couple chatting to themselves in some weird language.
Ben stared at them (You can see what they are thinking Ben. They all think the same fucking thing. Nutcase. Weirdo. Mental.) He clenched his fist.
“Shut up!” he said loudly at the voices. The couple turned around. (See, they fucking hate you now, don’t they?)
“Buddy, can you stop shouting at them?” the suit man said.
“What’s going on?” The bus driver looked out of his compartment.
Ben got up, fists clenched. The Asian couple stood up, trying to get away from him.
“Stop! You spastic!” the suit man pushed him (Getting pushed around, like always.)
Ben turned round and pushed the suit man back (You loner. You’ll always be a loner. They said you’re a loner.)
“STOP TALKING ABOUT ME YOU FUCKING ASIANS!” he roared at the couple.
“Mate! Calm down or get off!” the driver spat.
“Get the fuck outta here! You’ve harassed them enough! Racist!” the suit man heckled him off.
(Fuck them! Fuck them all! Hurt them! Fucking hurt them!). Ben went round the front of the bus, glaring at the passengers. All were shouting at him. Looking at him. His eyes fell on a large rock by the bench. He picked it up. He looked at the windscreen. The suit man was filming him on a camera.
“We've got you on camera, buddy. You’re going to gaol mate!”
Ben stared into the camera. That was his life. He was here, and everyone else was there. They just see him as a spastic. A psycho. A retard. That is what he was.
He swung the rock into the windscreen. It cracked. He roared and swung again, Cracks splintered across the windshield. The bus driver rushed out of his seat. Ben could hear someone screaming.
Ben dropped the rock and began to use his hands. (Fuck THEM! Fuck THEM all!) He kept screaming; punching the cracked glass.
“He’s lost it! Fucking run him over!” the suit man shouted at the driver.
Ben roared again. The windscreen was a wall of broken glass. He could feel the pain now. He pushed. Then thumped it with his elbows. Then pushed again.
He stopped, looking through the shattered glass at the suit man inside.
“He’s actually cutting himself! He’s definitely high” the suit man kept filming.
Ben saw his bloody handprints over the shattered glass. He felt the glass inside his wounds, blood dripping. He headed off the road. A woman and child were looking at him, the child’s face stiff with fear, a sight she had never seen before.
He ran. He’s done it now! They’ll get the police! They’ll lock him up forever!
He could see the gardens of some houses beyond the park. Hide in one of those! He took off his singlet so no one would recognise him, dropping it in the park as his sliced hands could not hold it.
He leapt over the fence into a bush, landing head first in the dirt. It was cold. His skin was freezing and the bush prickled him. He could see a brick terrace. A large open door. A lemon tree and herb garden to the side of the door. A worn out deck chair—
“What you doing?!”
Ben leapt up. There was a large, elderly man in a red-and-white striped polo shirt and rugby shorts.
“What the fuck you doing in my backyard?!”
His eyes look down to his arms.
“Holy shit! What’ve you done to your hands?!” the man stepped back, reaching for his phone.
“PLEASE NO! DON’T LOCK ME UP!” Ben fell back, hands up.
The man stopped. Hesitated. His phone hung in his hand, ready to call 000.
“I haven’t got a knife, no gun. I don’t want to hurt you,” Ben cowered.
The man was lost for words. He looked up momentarily to the sound of distant sirens.
“You…you’re bleeding a lot, mate. Think I should call you an ambulance.”