Ryan stepped off the bus and sat down on the bench, vaguely aware of the usual collection of other bus riders at the bus stop, but he immediately opened his book and returned to reading The Crucible. A cool gust of wind struck and he fished a sweatshirt out of his backpack and pulled it on. For a moment he wondered what these cross town trips to and from the Arts Magnet School would be like in the winter, but for now it was just another glorious fall day.
The middle aged woman at the other end of the bench asked Ryan, "Excuse me, but don't you usually transfer to the 43?"
Ryan looked up. "Yes, is it coming?" He looked up the street in the direction of arriving buses.
The woman explained, "The 43 was here three minutes ago. The bus you were on was running late."
Ryan pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned the ringer back on. He now noticed the time. He said to the woman, "Oh, thanks." He wondered: how had his bus fallen so far behind schedule? If he had been less absorbed in his book then he would have noticed the unusually heavy Friday traffic due to alumni flocking to town in advance of the weekend's football game at the university. Ryan glanced over at the football stadium, about a quarter mile to the south. If he walked home then he would go right by the stadium and be home in 20 minutes. It would probably be another 20 minutes before the next route 43 bus came by. He put his book in his backpack and started walking home. He nodded to the woman and said, "Thanks for warning me, I did not realize how late it is."
Ryan again pulled out his phone and while walking he sent a text message to Monday, letting her know what had happened. After sending the message, he put his hands into the front pocket of the sweatshirt. He was now among the old brick buildings of the Medical School research complex. He walked past a dingy alley that ran between two of the old buildings. He had once heard that it was in one of these old buildings where the connection between smoking and cancer had first been demonstrated. For a moment he imagined hundreds of dogs lined up in their cages, all trained to smoke cigarettes.
After passing the alley he paused. What had he seen down there? He turned around and went back and took another look down the alley. There, a shoe. No, two shoes. Positioned next to the dumpster as if they were on someone's feet...someone who was laying in the alley. Without another thought he started walking into the dark alley way.