#403 The Mystery Bandit’s Ghost (21)

A twelve-hour day at the office doesn’t really inspire top notch blog writing afterward but on the other hand I’m buoyed by the knowledge that I’m now finished with work for a whole two weeks. I just need to stay awake long enough to write something.

Staying awake is, in fact, something that would have helped me start the day off on a somewhat more organised note. Alas, when my alarm went off at the usual time this morning I felt around with my hand until I picked it up, squinted at the screen, and did as I usually do every morning. I swiped left to snooze. It’s not logical nor efficient, but any snoozer out there knows that those precious extra few minutes of shut eye are just irresistible. It’s like licking the bowl after baking a chocolate cake. So I was already on the way to shutting my eyes when my brain registered the words floating up on the phone screen at a funny angle.

Alarm off

Fighting a losing battle with sleep, I remained conscious long enough to realise that I was holding my phone upside down. So instead of swiping left to snooze, I swiped right to turn off the alarm. Sliding down into that warm and fuzzy embrace of illicit sleep, I had one final thought.

Thank god I’m not on Tinder…

As you can imagine, any day that begins with an upside down phone and a Tinder reference is a day that’s just asking for more trouble. Flailing out of bed later than usual, I rushed through the morning routine, floundering on the wardrobe choices and defaulting to the outfit that was still sitting out on top of everything: the Santa dress. I fit right in with all the Christmas jumpers and Santa hats in the office today.

The bus journey to work was its own special sort of twilight zone. I remember when I first started commuting with Hawkeye after years of living within walking distance of work. I remember watching women sometimes do their entire make up routine on the bus, expertly compensating for the unpredictable rocking on the upper deck, and wondering why they didn’t bother doing these things at home. Now I’m one of those women, regularly pulling out my cosmetics pouch, balancing my compact mirror on top of my bag, and using the enforced period of sitting to take care of things I just don’t have time to fit into my early morning.

This morning though I was a bit surprised to open up my cosmetics pouch and pull out… a sock. A solitary, clean, black sock of mine. I honestly have no idea how it got there. While removing the offending sock from my make up bag and stuffing it into my handbag I made some sort of an absentminded comment about the unusual discovery, which drew Hawkeye’s attention, pulling me into a conversation that felt like falling down the rabbit hole.

“The mystery bandit ghost did it!”

Yeah I actually stared at him for a few seconds while I processed the sentence. I mean, it’s early. I’m discombobulated and rushed. And I just found a sock with my make up. I had no idea that mystery bandits even featured on my kid’s radar, much less in his explanations of world affairs.

“Huh… ok. I wonder though, how did the mystery bandit become a ghost? That must be an interesting story.

Hawkeye instantly got frustrated. “Nooo, mommy! I said the mystery bandit’s ghost did it!”

Ahh, I see. I mean, he’s four, and sometimes his speech is a bit indistinct or his grammar is off so this is fairly common but he gets upset when he’s not correctly misunderstood.

“So let me get this straight,” I sought to clarify. “The mystery bandit has a ghost?”

“Yes.”

“And the ghost puts socks in people’s bags?”

“Yes! The mystery bandit’s ghosts puts stinky socks in your bag!” He’s now delighted with himself but he has simultaneously impugned by sense of honour.

“Hey, that wasn’t not a stinky sock! I’ll have you know that was a perfectly clean sock!”

My protestations are ignored in the way that many statements can be ignored by a four year old when they don’t fit in with his world view. He said the sock was stinky so clearly it was true in his world. Anyway, I wanted to hear more about this ghost and the bandit.

“They’re best friends, and they live in a house together. But they’re not here now, because they’re sleeping. Because they’re baddies.”

“Well, obviously they must be bad guys if they go around sticking stinky socks in people’s handbags.” I mused. Behind me I heard the distinct sound of suppressed laughter. It figures that I would end up in front of the one person on the whole bus that doesn’t have headphones in their ears and can hear our conversation. Of course, I’m just two seconds away from laughing myself so I can’t really fault the lady behind me for being so amused by Hawkeye’s reasoning and discussion.

The entire episode was perfectly capped by an incident on the way down the stairs from the top deck of the bus. I always go down first and walk backwards to keep an eye on Hawkeye as he navigates the steps while the bus lurches from side to side. It was facing the steps therefore, that I spotted something that made me take a closer look once he was safely down on the bottom deck of the bus and holding on to a rail. There, scratched into the surface of the yellow safety line used to flag the edge of each step, were two characters. I think they’re a robot or some sort of cartoonish figure and a duck. And at some point the bus must have been chock full of travellers that would lead to a person actually standing on the stairs in such a way as to allow them to indulge in such a mini graffiti. But what struck me most was that it seemed like a perfect ending to a journey where I learned about the mystery bandit and his ghost, as it seems exactly like the sort of prank a pair of baddies like that might pull. So I had to actually stop and take a picture. And honestly, if I had more imagination for original stories, I’m pretty certain I would be writing a children’s book now about a mystery bandit and his ghost.

Maybe the ghost has a pet duck? Or maybe the duck is the mystery bandit’s spirit animal and represents his ghost? So many possibilities.

Happy Christmas holidays everyone. I’m off to sleep.

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