Christmas Jackpot

It was morning. He was still half sleepy in bed, trying to figure out the nightmare he had just experienced. While thinking deep about that, the mobile phone rang: his boss was asking him to get out for his usual job. He said it was Christmas, that he was on holidays. From the other side of the line, his boss replied they needed him THEN, at that very moment. Those words didn’t sound convincing at all, but the following words he heard  made him change his mind; “C’mon, you’ll now get in one day more than you’d get in any other time of the year, how can you refuse it? We managed to get the bus ready for you, it’s now waiting for you. When you finish the job, your friends will pick you up at the same place where they did the other times.” –said his boss and hung up.

He dressed quickly, while drinking a half empty Coke, and closed the door behind him. He drank out of the can until it was empty, then threw it away carelessly. The bus was waiting for him. Before going in, he looked around attentively, there was no one looking at him. Well, it was still morning, Christmas morning… He got into the bus, put on a shirt on which it was written with big clear letters : “URBAN LINE TRANSPORTS”.

He was supposed to drive the bus from the station in the centre to some other stations in the suburbs, out to the city’s periphery. Usually he was not working on Christmas Eve, he and his colleagues had holidays, but the idea of getting all that money at once made him change his mind, and why not, he really needed some money, he was about to get married. Not that this was his first marriage, but this time he had found the right woman. He needed money to buy things for this new life he was about to start and he was in immediate need to pay the rent for the apartment. He REALLY needed money.

He stopped at the first station to pick up the passengers. The station was full of people waiting impatiently to get to the other side of the city. At this time of the year people come from the suburbs to the centre to do their holidays’ shopping in the main shops and markets of the city, while those living in the urban area go to the peripheries to visit their relatives living in the other side of the city.

The bus was full. All kinds of people were there, some sitting but most of them standing and pushing each other. He stopped at the other stations on the way to pick up other passengers while driving further and further away from the centre and towards the periphery.

He enters the empty road, where no sign of other cars is visible. He first looks in the mirror, then watches the passengers carefully, some are well packed, others only carry one bag.

Suddenly he hits the breaks. The bus stops. The passengers look around surprised, looking through the windows, shouting “What’s happening?”,” What’s the matter, why did you stop?”, ”Move this fuckin’ bus, I got people waiting’ for me “… and the shouts go on like this for a few seconds. Then, in less than one second, their faces change dramatically. They’re shocked, surprised, W H A T  I S  H A P P E N N I N G ?!”

The bus driver is standing in front of them, taken hostage by one passenger, who is now pointing his gun at the other passengers. Some women, terrified, start screaming, but they stop shortly after “Shut the fuck up, don’t make me do something that you all will regret later, so please SHUT THE FUCK UP!” They all stand in silence now. He takes a big bag and goes seat to seat, with the gun pointed at the passengers. He’s careful, his eyes screening every corner of the bus.

It takes no more then five minutes and he has robbed all of the passengers. After a while he forces them all out of the bus and leaves them there escaping with the money and the packs.

At a crossroads some other guys are waiting. His friends are waiting for him. They put all the stuff in their van and move on, leaving the bus in the middle of the road, horizontally with its tires down, so no one can take their track, especially the police.

They head off one second later towards the periphery of Tirana. The van is full, the bus driver, pretending to be a victim, continues to play it like that. He well understood what his boss had expected from him and he had played it perfectly. 

Photo by Justin Hyatt, text by Erenik Beqiri

This article was posted in Centre and Periphery and tagged , .

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