Suntan-less In Seattle

June 30, 2018

A guest blog by Matt Gray

(Matt and Katrina (no relation) were on holiday in Vancouver and then Seattle when the following unfortunate event came to pass. What can you say! 

Matt is a writer, coffee connoisseur, voracious reader and potential Northampton Town fan (he just hasn’t realised it yet). After duress, on Katrina, she has delegated and prevalied on Matt to pick up his pen. Frankly this is so funny and well written that there are unlikely to be any further pieces of his work on my web site).

It was at the end of a traditional delving into the touristic that we found ourselves, having ascended the Space Needle and pottered around the Museum of Popular Culture, at a bus stop in Downtown Seattle, where a rather unfortunate incident was about to occur.

The only thing hotter than the sidewalks were the temperaments and heat-frazzled declarations of the vagrants, which, being British, we dutifully ignored, and ignored admirably.

However, one such declaration came from a gentleman, half shrouded in the shadow of a shop’s awning, which caught our ears before he caught our eyes. 

Anyone here waitin’ fo’ the 27?’

The 27, as it so happened, was our bus. I was all set for British stoicism, but my companion, never being one to shirk off the heeding call for assistance, confirmed that we, in fact, were waiting for the 27, as it happened.


The man was bound to a bulky wheelchair, all manner of odds and ends jutting from its rear. He smiled a brown-toothed smile, given life afresh by the lack of complete shirking he was used to. In one hand, a half-smoked cigarette clung greedily to stained fingers as though an extension of his less-than-savoury form. The packet from which said stick had originally been drawn was perched between his feet on the little rest, as crumpled as he was. 

‘You wouldnt be so kind as to help push me onto the bus, when it comes, would ya?’ He emitted a phlegmatic cough of such deep-rooted rot I thought he may not survive the wait. 

‘Of course.’ With those two simple words my executioner had swiftly dished my sentence. By ‘of course’ she meant: ‘Of course *he* will: the unfortunate owner of that pronoun in this case being yours truly. 

Fifteen minutes passed, in which time I offered for us to, as the weather was rather amiable, maybe take a stroll down to the next stop? I was given the stare a warden gives to the prisoner suggesting he loosen the shackles slightly while he relieves himself by the roadside. ‘But you have to help him onto the bus!’


Then a conflicting duo of emotion at the arrival of the bus: Yes, it’s here!; Shit, it’s here!

I moved to the rear of the shlock’s chair and pushed, nearly doing myself a mischief in the process. I expected it to be a smooth mover but I was wrong. What was he keeping in this dead contraption? Did he live in this chair? Did he, when the sun had descended for the day, slither into the back to nibble upon the supple bones of those who had kindly pushed him?

I managed to swivel the chair so it faced the bus. All that awaited now was for the final grand exertion, the straight-line heave to the finish. 

What happened next was over in a flash, but will forever be etched upon my retinas, reducing me to a giggling mess whenever I ponder the events for too long. 

Fate had deigned that day to place a full, miniature-sized bottle of sun-tan cream directly in front of the wheel I was about to move at a swift pace. Like the train flattening the unfortunate maiden tied to the tracks I did not feel it happen, but its effects became instantly apparent. 

A lady wearing an elegant full-length dress, back turned to us, waiting to board the bus, happened to fall prey to simple geometry. A flag bearer for the maxim ‘wrong place, wrong time’. The lid was the first to go under the chair’s immense weight, springing instantly back on its plastic hinge under the strain. Next came the money shot: a mightily impressive load of viscous white liquid spurted from the bottle in a display that would have made a Pornstar proud. At first I thought it had merely gotten her ankles, but as my eyes ascended I noticed it had arced its way gracefully up the full length of the dress, stopping a mere inch shy of her hair. Snaking tendrils of cream lined her legs and back.

Being dutifully British I said nothing and my face did not betray me. 

The sunken fellow in the chair, however, tried his best to be the good citizen and, the chair now having caught up with her, tried his best to alleviate the issue. She was, it seemed, unaware, had felt nothing of the hot liquid upon her. What she did notice thought was a filthy wheelchair-bound vagrant covering his own hands in cream (cigarette still firmly in place betwixt fingers) smearing it deeper into the fibres. 

She seemed more concerned about the cigarette. However, I wanted to tell her not to worry: with that much sun-tan lotion applied she was highly unlikely to burn anytime soon.

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