Misplaced Loyalties

The journey home from school today was not a bus driver’s success story. All four of the younger Roberts kids were back after a three day detention for misbehaving in school.

Jethro, the eldest, and Izaiah – suffering anger management problems – sit opposite the driver; Treanna, their sister, sits behind the driver, and little Azariah – with chipmunk agility and a shorter attention span than any amoeba – is squeezed in between two fifth graders with orders to sit on him, if necessary, rather than let him out of his seat.

The root of the troubles had nothing whatever to do with the Roberts family. Sharreta Robinson, a pleasant, friendly, girl who sits near the back of the bus, and a fifth grade boy, Keyshawn Attwell, a friend of Jethro’s, had been engaged in shy conversation at every given opportunity for the last three days. Keyshawn was new to the bus, and the driver was quick to notice a relationship developing between the two.

It made a pleasant change to see two kids enjoying each other’s company. Usually, the bus reverberated with continual bickering and name-calling, occasionally erupting into more serious fistycuffs, so he was happy to turn a blind eye when Sharetta slipped across the bus aisle to a vacant seat behind Keyshawn, better to hear what he was saying above the cacophony of thirty-eight, over-excited, voices.

No doubt all would have been well had not Kaitlin Sanders, a plump and loud-mouthed sixth grade girl sitting across from Jethro, not also had her eye on Keyshawn. Sharreta’s illegal move to another seat was not lost on Kaitlin, who immediately began making loud disparaging remarks about Jethro’s parentage, for no better purpose than to gain Keyshawn’s attention.

Jethro, of course, responded by calling Kaitlin a “fat, lying, bitch,” whereupon the two ended up in the aisle, arms flailing, and emitting language never heard in a church vestry.

The driver’s reaction was to stop the bus, separate the two, then charge up and down the aisle, much like the proverbial bull in a china shop, yelling at the remaining thirty-six kids to settle back down in their seats before they all got referrals.

The Roberts family alighted at the next stop, as did Keyshawn. Jethro still muttered to himself on the injustice of getting a referral for no more than defending his honor, and the meanness of school bus drivers in general.

Kaitlin Sanders sulked for the rest of the journey, knowing her referral meant she would miss the next school field trip. Both she and Sharreta left the bus at the final stop.

The driver watched as they walked away up the street, arm in arm, laughing and joking about nothing in particular.

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