Short story: Lek’s Lodekka

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AT 18, Lek, the youngest bus driver at the bus garage, was known for his youthful sense of fun and harmless humour.

But bus company, director Daaswagher, regularly reprimanded him for joking with passengers and even though many enjoyed his laughter and wit, some more serious passengers complained.

For these reasons Lek developed an attitude of youthful rebellion against very serious people.

Lek’s best friend at the bus station was Rusty.

Rusty got tickets for a New Year’s Eve party out at the next town.

Two ladies Rusty and Lek were particularly keen on, were going, so the boys wanted to go to meet them.

But with no bus services running that evening, the boys met outside the bus station and hailed a taxi.

Rusty and Lek asked the taxi driver what the fare would be?

He said the fare would be triple the price he normally charges!

“Why are you overcharging fares tonight?” they demanded.

The sniggering taxi driver replied: “Because it’s New Year’s Eve! People have to use taxis else they have no other way of getting places, unless you drive your own car and get arrested for drinking and driving. So taxis are charging whatever we like.

“So shut up, get in, and pay me!”

Rusty and Lek had little money for this extortionate and unfair charge, so refused to get in the taxi to go anywhere.

“ Forget it, we can’t afford to pay that mark up for the short journey to the party.”

The taxi driver cursed, slammed the doors and drove away, leaving them behind.

“Lek, it’s too far to walk, we can’t go.”

But Lek had a brilliant idea.

“Rusty, follow me.”

Rummaging through his pockets, Lek strolled through the bus station, to a bus that Rusty had never seen in service before.

It was a bright orange/red double decker bus. On its front, the maker’s name Bristol Lodekka.’

It had a white mid-band around it, and the operator’s name Alder Valley with double arrow logo painted on its side.

This bus was locked, and from the 1960s. It was in beautifully restored condition.

Lek produced a key, unlocked this bus and climbed aboard.

“Where did you get that key from, Lek?”

Lek answered: “After my afternoon shift today, director Daaswagher, told me to drive this, his own preserved Bristol Lodekka from the bus garage’s paint shop, and park it inside the bus station here.

“I did as instructed, but stupidly forgot to hand the key in.”

Lek climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“ What are you doing?” Rusty asked in panic.

“I’m gonna get us to the party. Get in Rusty, we’ve got to get her some fuel first.”

Rusty was aboard as the double decker drove to the petrol station.

The boys paid for their fuel. Then Lek drove the Lodekka to the next town, to the party.

Lek didn’t drink any alcohol, as he needed to drive the bus back after the party.

The two ladies enjoyed the evening with them.

But when it came to driving the bus back, as Lek and Rusty climbed aboard, they found themselves joined by a dozen pensioners from the party, who assumed it was a special night service back to the neighbouring towns bus station.

The pensioners asked: “How much is the fare to the bus station?”

Lek and Rusty, having no real answers said: “No charge, it’s a free bus just tonight.”

The pensioners were delighted and sat chatting.

However, parked in town, was Detective Inspector George Linden, and Police Constable Woods, in their British Racing Green Triumph TR4A.

PC Woods noticed this old sixties Bristol Lodekka double decker bus coming down the street.

Woods knew no buses were scheduled to operate this night.

Inspector Linden also noticed this unusual bus, so fired the TR4A’s engine into life, pulled out, and followed it.

Woods set the siren and flashing blue police lights on, as Linden flashed the TR4A’s headlights and the bus driver pulled over.

Inspector Linden met 12 jovial pensioners aboard the bus and two young men he recognised as the daytime bus driver and fellow employee of the town’s bus company.

“What’s going on? There are no night buses scheduled tonight, yet this bus is running?”

Linden breathalysed the driver, and confirmed he’d not drunk alchohol.

Lek explained the events that lead up to him borrowing the bus to avoid the extortionate taxi fares.

Inspector Linden, then stated, smiling: “Presumably all, these accomplices helped you take this bus?”

“No, the pensioners are innocent! It’s just me and Rusty, who borrowed our bosses bus, without him knowing.”

“ So is this the last stop, driver?” one pensioner asked Lek, who replied pitifully: “Yes for us, I fear it is now.”

The pensioners thanked Lek and Rusty for the free ride, and wished them a happy New Year as they walked the short distances home.

Inspector Linden said: “I know you, and Rusty, are the youngest at the bus station, good boys from all I’ve heard.

“For borrowing your boss’ bus without his permission, I could arrest you, you’d be charged for this, and your working careers would be ruined.”

Rusty and Lek listened, fearing this outcome.

Inspector Linden said: “I order you to take this bus back to the bus station, and never pull any stunt like this again. Do I hear your promise?”

Lek and Rusty promised they’d never borrow a bus again.

Inspector Linden said as he got off the bus: “You’re let off, but if ever you’re caught doing this again, I’ll arrest you.”

The boys understood, and said before they drove away: “Thanks Inspector Linden and a happy New Year to you.”