Episode One – Buses and Bicycles
THERE was a woman lying on the ground.
“Did you see that?” a man asked. His jacket collar was flipped up and pulled high over his ears.
There were dozens of people around him, but he didn’t seem to be talking to anyone in particular. He had not been on the bus.
The skies had darkened half an hour earlier, from both the foul weather and the winding down of the day, although dark skies and foul weather would not be considered out of the ordinary to any person who had been living in Cork city for at least a week.
The word ‘EAT’ stood out in giant block letters and looked down onto the crowd as the bus was emptying. Each passenger hesitated on the bottom tread before stepping out into the rain.
They joined the others who hadn’t been on the bus; the others who were already standing in the steady drizzle of a Cork city evening, weaving together their various eyewitness accounts and struggling to come up with something that resembled what had actually just happened.
Several passengers remained in their seats on the bus, connected to the free wi-fi. They hadn’t seen anything and weren’t moved to leave their relative comfort to go looking for anything to see.
“This probably sounds really bad, but can I just give my name to someone?” a young woman asked.
“It’s almost half-five now and I’m going to be late for something really important if I stay out here any longer.”
No-one was giving the slightest notice to the young woman, and the man she had just heard talking wasn’t there anymore. She couldn’t tell who was in charge. It didn’t appear anyone was in charge.
“I was upstairs on the bus. I saw the whole thing,” she said, looking around and watching as the crowd grew. “I guess everybody did.”
“I didn’t,” another young woman chimed in from next to her. “I was on the right side of the bus, which was the wrong side of the bus.”
“The bus hit a lady on a bike,” the first young woman said. “I don’t see her now though. I’m not sure what happened to her.”
She was looking around and didn’t realise that the second young woman hadn’t heard her. The second young woman was busy trying to push her way forward, hurrying to catch a glimpse of what she had already missed.
It was rush hour on a Monday evening so there was no shortage of gawkers or witnesses. The first young woman looked around again, then turned and walked away.
There was a volunteer from the Cork City Community Responder Scheme who had been across the street when it happened. The noise had caused him to glance up at precisely the right moment and he immediately ran across the street instead of marching along on his way to somewhere else, like many others had done. Their heads were tucked into coats and jumpers as if nothing unusual had occurred, as if a bus hadn’t just hit someone.
The volunteer responder’s training had finished up a week earlier, but he hadn’t yet been called out to give his newly acquired skills a real-world test. He had been on his way home and didn’t have any equipment or supplies with him. Still, he’d seen most of what had happened and immediately tried to offer help, but quickly determined that there were too many ‘helpers’ already.
He looked at his watch. 5.31 p.m. He decided to try and direct traffic until someone else more official arrived, but the traffic required little to no directing. It wasn’t going anywhere.
There were sirens whirring in the distance, getting closer. The rain hadn’t stopped in 24 hours. What a miserable day it is.
He didn’t think they needed an ambulance, but it would complete this spectacle of an evening. The cathedral bells began to ring. He looked at his watch again. 5.32 pm.
TOMORROW: “Oh my God! I almost just lost my life on the streets of Cork. Whoever thought it a good idea to make the bike lane also the bus lane is an idiot.”