"Are you sure you can cover for me?"
"It's fine Erica. I don't mind. Hell, you've covered fo' me a lot. Just returnin' the favor."
Erica still felt bad about it. Normally she wouldn't have dreamed of asking anyone to cover for her. She was usually the one that did the covering! Not like I have much of a life of my own outside work, just a few house plants waiting for me at home. Tonight was different, though. Tonight was the first night of the Horror Flick marathon she had been dying all week to catch. She tried not to feel guilty about shirking her responsibilities. It wasn't working.
"Damn it girl, go on! I said I'd do it. What, are you tryin' ta talk me out of it now? Go on, go home, watch some T.V. and relax. You know you'll more'n pay me back for this come Christmas. I insist, now get goin' 'for I throw somethin' at ya."
Erica hugged her neck. I can always count on Christine for a favor. Of course, she was joking about the Christmas thing. It wasn't like Erica had anyone she could spend hers with, so why not get some extra money working overtime? Christine had tried for years to convince her to spend it with her and her family, but Erica always came up with an excuse not to go. Being single, holidays were depressing and she just couldn't bring herself to be cheerful about them.
Grabbing her purse, she walked out the door.
"You're sure you're sure?" Erica ducked away as the phone book came flying at her and slammed into the doorframe. "All right, I'll see you Monday! Don't forget to lock up."
Looking at the door to the stairwell, she decided on the elevator. While she normally took the stairs, the heels she had chosen to wear today had started pinching halfway to lunch and hadn't let up. Since Mr. Hiroshi frowned on it if either of his secretaries took off their shoes during work hours, she simply had to suffer through it. Now, she felt almost crippled.
When the doors opened up, Erica stepped on and went down to the bottom floor, cursing under her breath when she got there. She had left the car at the shop and forgotten all about it!
"Well, there go those first few episodes. Guess I'll have to take the tram." She really didn't want to. I hate the tram. There are always crazy people on it, even in the daytime. At night, she had the disturbing sensation that she was the only sane person left alive. There had been a time that she'd had to take it frequently, before she got her car. Since then, it had become more of a sporadic thing, just every month or so for about a week at the time when she had to take her car to the shop for repairs. I'll get a new car one day.
Poor Christine had to take the tram every night.
She walked as quickly as she could to the station and sat under a light to wait. It was fifteen minutes before it arrived. Fifteen excruciating minutes during which Erica tried her best not to look at the people around her. It's surprising how hard it is not to stare when the people around you keep talking to themselves. At one time only crazy people did that. With that new phone accessory out, though, it was hard to tell when someone was talking to themselves and when they actually had a blue tooth on and were holding an honest to God conversation. She kept telling herself that there were other sane people about, that she couldn't possibly be the only one, but she didn't honestly believe a word of it.
When the tram finally arrived, she noticed that only a few people got on. Most of them continued to sit or stand where they were, talking, twitching and trying not to look at each other. She was glad most of them stayed where they were. She had always had lunatic magnetism.
Erica hurried through the nearest doors and onto the tram. A man was sitting on one end, so she sat at the other end near the doors that lead to the next car. The tram started off with a jerk that almost sent her out of her seat, but she threw out her feet and managed to stay in place. She noticed that the man had turned to look her way and now sat staring. She tried hard to ignore it, but he got up and moved to the middle of the car.
Don't make eye contact, don't make eye contact! They see that as a welcome, try not to look. It was impossible not to the way he was staring at her. Specifically, he was looking at her legs. She unconsciously closed them, sorry now she had worn the short black skirt instead of the long black slacks. Damn fashion and all the shit it gets you into!
He stayed where he was and after a few minutes, she dared to rest her eyes and tried to sit as straight and rigid as she could. The temptation to lean her head against the back of the seat persisted, of course, but she knew she shouldn't do that in a public place. It was nasty. There's really no telling how many people have already done that. How many of them had lice? The windows had head and hand grease all over them. The seats smelt like piss and stale sweat.
Erica's mind started wandering and she knew she was starting to nod off, in spite of her best intentions. The rhythmic movement of the tram always did that to her. She started awake, though, when she felt something at her arm.
She turned sharply to her right just as the man who had been at the other end of the train plopped down beside her, muttering to himself. She could tell he was a homeless man. I feel bad for people in that situation, I really do, I just don't want to sit beside people like that. They tend to be crazy, amongst other things.