It was 2:30pm and we were finally on our way home from school. Inside the banana colored public-school bus, the brown leather seats were worn and scribbled upon with so and so´s names and with elementary school gossip of how some lonely boy was in love with the chubby, pimply and terribly sad gym teacher. I liked gym class and thought of Miss Peggy Chandler as a nice woman. There were ten kids on the bus counting myself, and then there was the driver and Miss Luella Hardy, the school-bus monitor. Miss Luella reminded me of my cousin Billy´s Rotweiller who had its two hind legs blown off when their neighbor, the Live Free or Die Oliver Teenly dressed as Santa Claus, set off monumental fireworks sometime during mid-March. The dog, Bumpkin, lost its legs and, later, at the vet’s Mr. Teenly lost the costume. My father told me that they sent Mr. Teenly to the ‘big house’ because, though he had a habit of being inappropriately naked, Bumpkin’s animal-doctor wasn’t fond of Oliver Teenly’s privates and neither was his seven year old daughter. I would really like to have a big house with a big yard. Neither Bumpkin nor Louella Hardy would be invited.
“Zach” I said,
“Did you know that if you take your clothes off, they take you to a very big house with a very big yard?”
“Who takes you?”
“I dunno, the same people that took Mr. Teenly to a big house”
Tiffany Snyder, wrapped in a pretty little dress with her muddy knees exposed screeched like Bumpkin had when the fireworks devoured his legs.
“ZACHARY NOODLE!!!! PUT YOUR NOODLE AWAY!!! What in Christ’s Holy name are you doing?”
Miss Luella Hardy’s eyes were close to popping out from her face into little Stevie Dooley´s lap, who was, as punishment and to his disgrace, sitting next to her for having thrown his chocolate milk at the driver. It was soothing how little the driver seemed to care about anything. There could have been Sigfried and Roy’s tiger behind him eating the slow-witted Greek boy Rusty Georgopolous and his eyes would have lazily wandered towards the speeding wheels of oncoming cyclists.
Little Stevie looked at the driver, with a tangerine in hand, then at Miss Luella Hardy who looked at Zach, Zach looked at Tiffany, Tiffany looked at me, and I looked down and quickly pulled my trousers up before anybody noticed my noodle bouncing to the rhythm of the wheels on the asphalt. Tangerine burst on the driver’s friar-like baldness. I sat down.
Zachary Noodle pulled his shorts back up and took a seat next to me.
“TIFFANY SIT DOWN, that’s not the last one you’re gonna see!” grumbled Miss Luella Hardy, “and you Zach, please sit down, that was inappropriate.”
Tiffany sat down, tears zigzagging down her face while Miss Luella Hardy wiped the dime-sized beads of sweat from her forehead and armpits with the Georgopolous boy’s red, wool sweater. Stevie stared intently at the remnants of tangerine on the driver’s crowning crest. AND THE DRIVER DROVE ON.