“The Bus Stopper,” By Chad Robert Parker

I had a number of run-ins with a scrawny red-headed punk. Our community had sixth graders on up through high school riding on the same school buses together. I wasn’t the typical upperclassmen who sat in the back and made younger kids sit upfront, but for some reason this 6th grade kid had it out for me, a Junior at the time. One day he had his best opportunity to get me in trouble. I surely did deserve more than a reprimand that day, but seeing how the driver of the bus didn’t know who did it, I didn’t see any need to take credit for it. I never got the punishment my nemesis believed I had coming.

We had a substitute bus driver that day. She must have been having a bad day. Before our trip from school home we were all talking loudly, as we always did, until she yelled at us about how she expected a quiet bus ride home. She had a few more uproars to silence the bus every time we got a little too chatty. One of the red-headed kid’s friends dared me to throw a gobstopper at the bus driver. It wasn’t so much animosity as it was wanting to see if I could do it. I was a fairly good aim and was confident, but I was near the back of the bus and the chances of hitting her wasn’t really that good. I chucked it and it thumped off of the back of her head.

Kids near me were shocked. They laughed loudly, including the red-head and his friends, then cupped hands over their mouths and quickly straightened up when the bus screeched to a halt. The driver was out of her seat-belt in an instant. Soon she was standing six rows in front of me. She was looking right at the red-head. I looked out the window and acted uninterested in the discussion. As expected the red-head pointed me out. The driver questioned me, but then I asked, “From here?” She agreed that a throw from there was too absurd.