Special thanks to Phil Gorman 2015 for his expertise in re-editing and proofing.
With the current trend of maximizing the use of the School Boards equipment, the school bus I ride daily, picks up students from five different schools. This is one of the ways that the Board ensures taxpayers dollars are spent wisely. It's something that should have been put into practice years ago. Mind you, there are some drawbacks. The age mix of the passengers is vast. It runs from the early grades to high school seniors. Each trip is a bedlam with much of the younger crowd being boisterous and the seniors complaining. The bus drivers must have the patience of Job. One of the consequences is the occasional problem where the bigger kids are bullying and taking advantage of the younger ones.
I usually ride with Carl. We started school together and became best friends. It must have been fate because we always ended up in the same homeroom. Actually, there isn't much we don't know about each other. We are both on the school's football team. Football will be my ticket to a better education. Both Carl and I have broken records in the league. Apparently, some of the scouts for major colleges follow the league and we both are hoping to be approached with full scholarships.
Over the past few days, during the bus trip, I've been watching a husky sized boy teasing a young girl. For whatever reason, it's really starting to bother me. The girl is young and featureless, but that is no reason for him to make her life miserable. Today it really gets to me: I am pissed! I get up and start toward the teenage bully. Carl is watching me and asks.
"What are you going to do?"
"I've had enough of that kid teasing that young girl. If he likes intimidation perhaps he should feel what it's like to be on the receiving end."
"Don, you shouldn't get involved with it. Let the monitor handle it."
"The monitor is a useless tit. He hasn't done anything since he was appointed. I think he gets his jollies watching this shit happen."
As I walk toward the rear of the bus, the tormentor notices me. He stops his teasing.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Yes. You're Don Parsons."
"Have you ever seen me lose my cool and get really pissed?"
"Yes. Last week on the football field, I don't think that guard will ever forget you. That was a crushing tackle."
"I am about to lose my cool right now and you're the reason. You really don't want to do that, do you?"
You could see the color drain from his face. I weigh just over two hundred and twenty pounds, with no fat, and tower six-two. He's about one hundred pounds.
"Why? What have I done to you?"
"Nothing; however, this young lady you have been teasing for the last two days is my friend. I don't like it when my friends are tormented. I haven't said anything, hoping you would grow up and realize whom you're tormenting. However, I couldn't stand by any longer. When you tease her, you are antagonizing me. Are you sure you want to do that?"
I am standing over him casting a very large shadow. He is shaking. It wouldn't surprise me if his water works are working about right now.
"No, Don. I didn't realize she was your friend."
"Consider this a warning. Everyone on this bus is my friend, as far as you are concerned. Do you understand what I am saying?"
"Well, go to the back of the bus and act your age."
I watch him scurry to a corner seat. The young girl had watched the interchange. She now has a bewildered look in her eyes. Then, I ask.
"May I sit beside you?"
Her voice is raspy and low. Sitting down beside her gives me an opportunity to actually look at her. She has a face that will cause many double takes as she matures. Her lips are full and pouty, accented by large bedroom eyes that are staring at me in astonishment.
"Perhaps you should tell me your name, since we are close friends."
"Jayden Raven ... why did you do that?"
"Hello, Jayden Raven. I really don't like bullies. You can be assured no one will bother you. This will be all through the school system before the day is over. Like the knights of old, you are under my protection. By the way, I'm Don Parsons."
"Oh, I know who you are. Everybody does! This may surprise you, but I enjoy football and have watched you play nearly every game!"
Now, that did surprise me! Her school is close to mine, judging by her uniform, but I would never have thought high school football would interest her. Goes to prove you can learn something every day. The more I look at her the more provocative she is becoming. Jayden is dressed in her school uniform, which consists of her short, blue plaid, pleated skirt and white blouse. She is wearing current style elevated shoes. Her brown hair is in a ponytail, which moves bewitchingly. But, what really has my interest are her beautiful, brown, soulful eyes and full pouty lips. She is really nervous for some reason. Her upper lip seems to be twitching.
"Are you going to the game tomorrow?"
"Yes. I wouldn't miss it. If you guys win this one, the team will be in the final."
"Good. Maybe I'll see you there."
The bus turns into her school. I watch her dismount. As she walks toward her school, she turns and looks at the departing bus. Jayden has a perplexed look. What I notice are long, well developed legs. I absently mindedly wonder what she has hidden between them. Many other young girls that had been on the bus gather around her, likely questioning her about the event.
"Don, do you have any idea what you are getting into? What you did on the bus may be honorable, but it will be all over the school before lunch. Look at the juniors in the back. Their tongues haven't stopped wagging since you sat down beside that young girl. Look at that punk you nailed. He is still shaking."
"Nobody deserves to be treated as Jayden was. It wasn't right; so, I did something about it."
"Well, you made your bed. It will be interesting to watch it develop."
And develop it did. By the end of the day, I'm getting looks you wouldn't believe. As I walk the corridors, changing classrooms, wagging tongues stop as they watch me pass. However, one of the benefits of being a senior, and as large as I am, is that no one mentions anything to me directly. Alishia, the girl I've been dating, walks beside me.
"What's this I hear that you are robbing the cradle?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Well, the incident on the bus this morning ... it is the talk of the school."
"What incident? All I did is talk to a punk that had been teasing a young girl for the last two days. He had her crying just for his twisted pleasure."
I explain to Alishia what had happened. She listens intently.
"Don, I'm proud of you. But you should hear the school grape vine. The last thing I heard was that you were dating that young girl."
"Let them talk. She'll be safe. Nobody will bother her. This morning was the first time I talked to her. Her name is Jayden Raven."
"Oh, I know her family. She has a brother in high school. He is on the junior football team."
I try to place him but couldn't. We often scrimmaged with the juniors. Theoretically, it's to help them develop. But, usually, the juniors attempt to play rough, trying to impress the coaching staff; when it gets too rough, Carl and I put an end to it. We usually target the most aggressive junior and sandwich him between us. That cools their behavior quickly.
The rest of the school day goes well. On the bus ride home, Jayden and I are the centers of attention, even though we don't sit together. Carl and I talk about the game tomorrow.
"Are we going too win the game tomorrow? The Marauders are a good team. They haven't lost in their last six games. Some of their wins were slaughters."
"We've a good chance. I think our line is stronger. And if Roy is on his game, with his passes, we're going to win."
"I hope so. Have you heard any of the rumors about the incident this morning?"
"Now what are you talking about?"
"You and that young girl, it had me laughing all day. By tomorrow you will be engaged to a fourteen-year-old."
"Yes. I checked with her brother. He is on the juniors. She is fourteen. Her birthday was a week ago Friday."
"Hell, I didn't do much just confront a bully. I didn't touch her."
Carl is laughing; it seems he is enjoying my plight.
"Remember, I told you this morning that all kinds of things would come out of your gallant effort: 'no good deed goes unpunished.' It's so distorted now. And the rumors are growing. I bet the people on the bus are having a field day."
"Well, it'll blow over by tomorrow."
Carl's correct. By morning, even I was hearing the gossip. My sister told me a few of them. Jayden and I are secret lovers. Jayden is pregnant: that was the reason she was crying. I'm going to be expelled for threatening the male student on the bus. Finally, I told her to stop. This was getting way out of hand.
The following morning I watch for Jayden to get on the bus. There is something different about her as she walks down the aisle to her seat. Jayden's looks have changed. Then I realize the difference. She is wearing some eye shadow and her lips are darker with lip-gloss. Her face doesn't look like a fourteen-year-old. She smiles at me as she passes my seat. Something else is different. Jayden is wearing perfume. It's a very haunting fragrance. My body tingles. Shit, Don, get a grip on yourself! Carl notices my reaction and starts to laugh.
.... There is more of this story ...