I checked my phone, shivering in the winter dark. The metal of the bus shelter seat was fridge-like through my tights. The 6.17 was running late. Hopefully there’d still be some seats; it had been a long shift, especially with my break having been swallowed up by helping the new girl. Why are my workmates always such jerks to the newbies?
I heard a strange kind of clip-clop in the distance. A block away, it looked like someone in a top hat was dismounting a silver horse, and attaching it to a lamp post. I made a mental note to myself to make a booking at Specsavers. I checked my phone again.
Then, like a vision, he appeared in front of me, the moonlight giving his features a luminous glow. It was him. The one and only him. The inimitable Mr Shaw. James Edward Heathcliff Darcy Shaw, Leader of the Green Party and my heart, since forever. Specifically, since about five weeks prior, when he started taking the heat for his co-leader, standing steadfastly by her through the gutter-press storm. O Captain, my Captain.
He gazed ethically at me. His eyes, two pools of fair-trade certified Dark Ghana 72%. His hair, salt and pepper squid, sustainably sourced. Electorate: Dreamboat Central.
‘Madam, I need you. I need you more than ever. Are you with me, Madam? Will you come? Come, Madam. For you. For me. For Aotearoa. For… the world’. He held out a gloved hand, his eyes instantly dispelling the chill from my body. My heart gave a flick-flack worthy of Nikki Jenkins in 1990.
I studied his lips, which were slightly parted, revealing a rose-coloured, regularly scraped-looking tongue, and teeth of free range ivory, still attached to the elephant. His level of oral hygiene appeared optimal. Be still my heart. Taking his hand, I leaned my face in towards his, inhaling his morally erect scent.
‘Oh, Mr Shaw,’ I breathed, ‘will I come? You bet I will. Talk dirty, dirty, rivers to me, Mr Shaw.’
He blinked at me, his expression impenetrable. I took this as a green light.
‘Take me home and show me the real meaning of renewable energy,’ my voice was husky in his ear. ‘I demand a private masterclass in climate change, Mr Shaw’. My breath was steaming in the chilly night air.
‘Madam, I am indeed most vexed by the sullied state of our waterways. You are also correct that the wanton use of fossil fuels is a blight on our society and must cease. As for the changing climate,’ his brow furrowed, ‘this is a matter of grave concern, which neither fortune nor connections can rectify.
But Madam, might I speak plainly?’
He searched my face, imploring, intense.
‘Madam, if the truth be known,’ he moved in towards me, so that his lips were mere centimetres from mine, ‘I do not give a brass farthing for any of these things.’ His gaze was smouldering. ‘Frankly, my dearest wish would be to go down on -’
I squeaked with pleasure. ‘Ooooh, that’s my dearest wish too!’
He appeared mildly surprised. ‘By Jove, Madam, you are most supportive. As I was saying, there is nothing I want more than to make passionate -’
I couldn’t contain myself. ‘I want that too! Me too! Let’s go!’ My voice dropped to a purr, ‘I vote we party.’
‘Madam, will you give me leave to speak candidly?’ He glanced over his shoulder, as if to make sure that no one was listening.
‘Go ahead, Mr Shaw,’ I cooed. ‘I bet you are going to tell me it’s not easy being Green. That it’s really, really -” I stared meaningfully into his eyes – “haaard.”
‘Madam. Allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love -’ he paused, puffing his chest out, ‘your admiration and love for me’. Okay. This was definitely my least favourite thing he had said so far.
He sank down heavily on the bus shelter seat, with an audible moan of fatigue. Slumped, à la Homer Simpson, he spread his legs wide, taking up much of the bench seat. He loosened the white cravat around his neck, flicking it on the ground with a gesture of disgust. “I hate that thing,’ he muttered.
He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a plastic bag from KFC, from which he produced a wrapped Zinger burger. Lifting the top burger bun, he cursed, as if to himself, “for fuck’s sake! I told that useless tosser I wanted double hash browns!” He then stuffed his mouth to capacity, making it impossible for him to close his lips as he attempted to chew.
This was an unsettling sight.
‘Uh – James? Is everything ok?’
He replied, particles of onion and pattie flinging themselves through the air. ‘Call me Jayden. My name’s not James, it’s Jayden. Jayden Smith.’
This was too much. I started backing away. He raised a hand in reassurance. ‘Don’t freak out. I am the guy that everyone knows as James Shaw, it’s just that my real name is Jayden. I changed it; it’s all about image. And because I was sick of the jokes about the Fresh Prince. The truth is, I don’t give a toss about any of this Green crap. PC gone mad, I tell ya. Sure the rivers are a bit grubby, but jeez! Shut your pie-holes, whingers! Have a shower afterwards if you’re jonesing for a swim that bad!’
‘But, but I don’t understand, I stammered. ‘If you’re not into the Greens, why are you their leader?’
His face clouded over, and he stared stormily off into the distance.
‘Russell Norman?’ I repeated.
‘Russel,’ he murmured, distractedly, ‘Just the one L. Bloody Russel Norman. He’s always been better than me. Even at high school, he whipped me at debating every time. Damn that Russel Norman. Smarter, cooler, more retweets. Just once, just ONCE I wanna beat him. Get higher in the polls. More seats in the house. And maybe get married to someone as lovely and smart as his wife, so I no longer have to hire Annabel from the modelling agency to pretend to be married to me.’
He sighed heavily. ‘I could never get anyone as brilliant and amazing as Annabel in real life’. He hoiked a globby spit ball contemptuously on the ground. ‘More than anything, I wanna go down on record as being better than Russel Norman. Just to wipe that empathetic look off his handsome face.’
‘But Russel Norman’s not even in Parliament anymore. This makes no sense.’ Was he high? Had I sustained a concussion without realising it? He balled up the burger wrapper and flung it into the middle of the road, as if he were a fielder in a cricket game.
‘Look. The heart wants what it wants, okay? Jeeez. Anyway,’ he leaned leerily in towards me, wiping his mouth roughly with the back of his hand. A smear of zinger sauce streaked across his cheek. ‘Let’s not talk about him anymore,’ he traced a finger suggestively up my arm. ‘Let’s go get nasty.’ I recoiled as if burnt.
‘Mr Shaw. You are neither tolerable nor handsome enough to tempt any human person. You are a disagreeable, horrid man. There is no enduring you.’ The 6.17 appeared at the corner. ‘Now comes my coach. I bid you adieu, sir.’
And with that, I embarked my awaiting transport.
I could hear him bellow as we pulled away.
‘But we could be great together. Love New Zeeeeeealand! Paaaarty vote Greeeeeen!’
Like what you see here? Our first BRILLIANT + AMAZING Writers’ Retreat is being held soon, and we are fundraising for scholarships and childcare so that all mamas can come. If you have a few bucks to spare, please check out our Givealittle page!