Back Of The Bus.

I was stopped behind a school bus. It’s amazing how quickly the summer has flown by. School is already starting again which means the buses are rolling and kids are out walking. While I was behind the school bus one of the kids in the back looked out the window at me and for a moment I thought he was Chucky, who always sat in the back. Chucky was a short, scrawny blonde kid, a sixth-grader which meant he was a couple of years older than me. In spite of his stature Chucky was the biggest kid on the bus. He sat alone in the back seat, or rather stretched out across it, and kept up a running commentary through the whole ride. No matter where you sat on the bus you could hear Chucky. There were the anecdotes, like the time he referred to a teacher by her first name, “Irma”, and when another teacher said, “Oh, you’re on a first-name basis now?” he replied, “No, we’re really on a first-syllable basis. I call her Ir.” There were the stupid jokes: “You know what I’d do with a million dollars? I’d buy a new butt. Mine has a crack in it.” And there was the occasional question like, “Hey, when’re we gonna stop for ice cream?” and that got us all chanting “ICE CREAM ICE CREAM ICE CREAM” until the driver stopped and yelled at us to be quiet. Chucky complained about being grounded for a bad grade, about the math teacher with the hairy lip, about the kid who threw up in the middle of the hallway, and how many people walked through it without noticing. When we had a substitute bus driver who got lost Chucky said, “She got her license out of a Cracker Jack box.” When that same substitute bus driver got stuck on a hill because she couldn’t figure out the gears and put the parking brake on, then took it off so the bus started slowly rolling backwards, Chucky said, “We’ve secretly replaced your regular bus driver with Folger’s crystals.” Chucky was old enough and smart enough that he probably could have helped her out, but that would have meant leaving his seat in the back.
Not everyone was a fan of Chucky, though. Once, early in the school year, another sixth-grader named Jim decided he wanted to sit in the back seat. I’m not sure what made him want to challenge Chucky’s claim to the throne, or at least the closest thing the bus had to one. Jim was a nice guy but quiet, and if he’d taken up the backseat it would have changed the whole tone of the ride home. He’d gotten to the bus first but Chucky wasn’t giving up his seat without a fight, which would have been terrible in the tight quarters of the back of the bus if their fight hadn’t been so ridiculous. With their eyes closed they threw light punches at each others’ stomachs, grunting, until the bus driver came and broke it up. Chucky was restored to his place at the back and Jim was forced to sit at the front. In spite of keeping his position Chucky was strangely subdued that afternoon. There were no jokes, no comments about that weird looking little house we always passed, no requests to stop and get a Coke.
The next day the old Chucky was back as though nothing had happened–and, really, nothing had happened. Childhood events that seem enormous in the moment have a way of dissipating just as quickly, and the bus that I was behind rolled on, carrying that kid who’d glanced back at me away.

5 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    I love the way you capture these moments and turn them into something wonderful 😊
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 256: I Walk The (Land) LineMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Chucky is someone I’ve wanted to write something about for so long. I’m just grateful to that kid on the bus who gave me the inspiration.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    This post seems enormous in the moment, Chris, and I don’t think it’s going to dissipate quickly. Thanks for sharing all those memories.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The impact of your comments is always lasting, and I never believe you got any of them out of a Cracker Jack box.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Front To Back. - Freethinkers Anonymous

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