Only the four younger members of the Roberts’ family still ride School Bus 13. Cordell Roberts and his three older brothers were banned by the school principal a few weeks ago, after a fight erupted between them while on the way home one afternoon, causing the bus driver to turn his vehicle around and return to the school.
The cause of the fracas was never established, though according to the other kids, Oakley Canton was the prime suspect. Oakley refused to incriminate herself, hitched up her cushion-stuffed brassiere and sat staring vacantly into space from the long bench outside the school building where sat the busload of kids, squirming as the driver harangued them on the correct behavior of young people when commuting in a moving bus, and how he’d been in zoos where the inmates displayed better manners.
Eventually, the school principal summoned the Roberts’ family parents to collect the offenders, innocents were allowed to re-board the vehicle, and the journey home was completed without further disaster. Apart, that is, from one little second-grader, Selena Astlik, who accidentally emptied a whole bottle of bright red nail varnish onto the seat occupied by Nicholas Lilly, just as he was leaning across the aisle, attempting to deprive Quinton Long of his yo-yo.
Nicholas, bully-boy tactics rewarded, played happily in his seat with the yo-yo, until, on reaching his stop he attempted to alight from the bus. The driver, aware of the boy’s penchant for vacant amnesia, yelled at him to hurry up, but Nicholas continued to sit with a puzzled expression on his face, making occasional wriggling motions with his hips.
Following another tirade from the driver, and dire threats of referrals if Nicholas didn’t “shift yourself”, the lad wrenched himself free from the offending nail varnish, leaving a bright red stain and a goodly portion of trouser behind him.
Today was the last day of school prior to Valentine’s Day and a four day holiday weekend. Over and above the usual cacophony of shrieks, insults, and occasional foul language – “Any more of THAT, Jethro, and it’ll be a referral for you, lad!” – was a buzz of expectation, as today was the school’s Valentine’s Day party. The bus groaned with a ton of goodies packed in thirty-odd Wal-Mart carrier bags. Each parent had recklessly endeavored to outdo every other parent, and kids staggered onto the bus laden down with enough sugar to keep Anheuser-Busch in business for the next twelve months.
The driver made a mental note to stock up on sick bags between shifts.
The afternoon home run was pandemonium. Even without the elder Roberts’s, and Oakley Canton – who’d been suspended for three days for calling Jethro Roberts a name his mother wouldn’t recognize – thirty-odd sugar-crazed kids high on artificial additives, are any driver’s nightmare.
Finally, the last kid was dropped off, the last schoolbag flung out the door at the child who had forgotten it, and the driver could return the bus to the depot and clean up the plethora of semi-chewed candy and trodden-in cookies that littered the floor; the assortment of multicolored, half-licked, lollipops by now firmly adhered to seatbacks and cushions.
Ah, well, the four day break would be welcome. And, after all, they were only kids.
Filed under: School bus