Tonia’s Bus Ride

“LETS RAISE HELL ON THE BUS TODAY MATTIE,” he shouted as he lurched at an innocent underclassman with a feigned slap to his pimply face!  It was Mike Baca, and he was addressing Matt Armenta, who had already made his way to the rear of the school bus. Mike scoffed at another anonymous dweeb as he hurried down the narrow aisle of the transport; mercilessly taunting assorted scrawny freshmen along his way! Mike was a rowdy young man who was bursting with testosterone! He was the unelected leader of a pack of downtrodden boys who lorded over the prized real estate at the back of the school bus! There was an invisible demarcation drawn where the large wheel wells protruded up from the floor. The large rubberized humps marked an imaginary line that separated the dweebs from the cool kids. Mike Baca would set up shop just aft of the large wheel wells, as he settled in for the upcoming 45-minute commute that separated Mountain View Trailer Park from Manzano High School.

Mike wasn’t evil, but he had yet to transcend his primal reptilian locus of control. He existed in a continuous state of perpetual turmoil which forced him to contend with his primitive desire to spawn while trying desperately to tamp down his lustful urges. His sexual frustration presented as aggression, and frenzied pheromones leaped out from his essence like coronal mass ejections in erratically administered metered doses! In an attempt to relieve the sexual pressure, he would tell lurid jokes and poke fun at the underclassmen who innocently congregated at the front of the bus in fearful clusters. A large rearview mirror was fastened directly above the windshield above the driver’s seat which provided the driver a means in which to observe the unruly bullies.  The driver’s probing eyes would give hope to the dweebs as they secretly prayed for safe passage while being pelted in the back of their heads with crumpled up paper projectiles.

It’s been said that music hath charms which soothe the savage beast, and to test the proposition, bus number 43 came equipped with an F.M Radio receiver. Two stereo speakers were fastened upon the fore and aft bulkheads respectively. In an authoritative method, the bus driver would dial in rock and roll stations knowing how the raucous music would somehow pacify the unruly heathens. The bus driver used the radio as a bargaining chip. “MUSIC IS A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT,” hollered the bus driver on a routine basis!  If the unruly boys got too far out of line, the operator would abruptly cut off the music which encouraged the troublemakers to behave long enough to have their musical privileges reinstated.

Tonia was sitting in her usual spot about two thirds of the way back from the front of the bus, just forward of the humps in the floor that separated the large dual wheels from the passenger compartment.  She always sat in the same seat; on the driver’s side, and she never slouched.  Zane was sure of this because he would routinely rotate his torso towards the center aisle of the school bus, while twisting his neck backwards towards her direction. It was Zane’s intention to insure that Tonia wasn’t being interfered with, so he would turn around in his seat in this fashion every five minutes or so as if an internal alarm clock reminded him to ‘make sure Tonia’s okay.’ He would stare longingly in her direction while she trained her attention upon a magazine or a paperback novel. Zane, with his lanky torso twisted halfway into the middle of the aisle, would stare long enough to attract her attention. Tonia, knowing full well that she was being preyed upon, would abruptly glance up from her reading to meet Zane’s gaze. It must have been irritating at some level because each time he would quickly turn his head and look away!      

…to be continued

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