I remember waiting on the little yellow bus at the end of the gravel driveway for my first big day of kindergarten. I had a little red plastic pencil box that held my two super huge pencils, my big box of super huge 8 crayons and brand new writing pad with the dotted line going down the center of each row. I was wearing a brand new striped shirt, some brand new pants and on my feet was one pair of the two new pairs of cloth tennis shoes my Mom bought me for my first day at school. Today I was going to wear my red tennis shoes. I remember feeling like a million dollars that day. I was so excited. The only way I can describe how I felt that day was comparable to Michael Phelps winning a gold medal or something. This was the biggest and best thing that had ever happened to me in whole 5 years of life. I finally get to ride to school on a bus. I don’t have to wait for the lady that drove a station wagon to come and get me and take me to pre-school. I had done it! I was finally big enough to ride a bus like my brother and sister. Not the same bus, NO WAY, my Mom said I had to wait for my OWN bus. So I remember watching my brother and sister bitching and complaining that they HATED this day with all their hearts. It was the worst day in mankind. My sister was in 6th grade and my brother was entering 4th grade. I kept listening to them moan and whine that they were going to have to come home and do this thing called homework. I had heard the word before, I thought it related to the chores we had to do everyday. You know, being at home and having to work. Made sense to me. Anyway, their super-sized big ole yellow bus came down the hill, over the creek and stopped right at their feet. I had seen the bus before, there were some kids on there that said “hi” to me. There were some kids on there that said some not so nice things about me too. But there was this one girl who stood up, opened her window and yelled out “Hi Rog-gee, you look so cute today.” To this day I do not remember who she was. But she knew me, must of been one of those big kids from the Cedar Grove Baptist Church we belonged to up the road, anyway, she made my day. My brother and sister sat down and off they went. NOW it was just me, all by myself waiting on the school bus. I was a big boy now. I knew not to go out into the road because of the coal trucks and they came roaring by ever two minutes. Everytime they went by the coal dust from the truck would blow all over my face and I remember having to spit it out. Coal did not taste good and it smelled bad. What seemed like a lifetime of waiting finally arrived. I remember hearing the brakes as it stopped a few houses down to pick up some kids around the corner. “OH MY GOD! It’s my turn!” I stood as straight as I could, held my new writing pad and pencil box to my chest, was hyperventilating I’m sure. THEN I saw the front of the bus! It looked just like Bruce and Linda’s bus, but Mom said this one was special. “Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes!” I was so excited. Then I saw the STOP sign slide out and heard the brakes squeak. It stopped. The door opened. Then I realized that -this must be the wrong bus. I motioned for the lady driver to go ahead that she had made a mistake. She said “Is your name Roger Bell”. I said “Yes Mam”. She said “Then this is your bus honey. Come on, we gotta go.” I said “Are you sure Lady? Are you sure that this is THE BUS I’m supposed to be on?” She replied “Yes, now come on.” I said “Okay, but I’m gonna have to trust you on this one lady, because my brother and sister are riding on a big bus, my Mom said that MY BUS was suppose to be special. This bus ain’t looking to special to me.” So I slouched and then sighed grabbed onto the handrail, pulled my self up what seemed like the biggest freaking climb on the planet to the top of the bus, I got to the top of the stairs and looked back at the 8 or so seats full of kids on the bus and realized that I recognized some of my neighbors from Sunday School church. I did feel better then.
The bus driver lady sat me down in the last seat available, right behind her and I remember her chatting some more small talk about how she knew me at church. I didn’t remember her, because to me all adults outside of my family and Ms. Lena all looked a like. She asked me “Why do you think this bus isn’t special Roger? It is special, I’m taking you to a different school than Bruce and Linda go to. .” To which I cried ” You mean I’m not going to get to go to the big SCHOOL either?” She said “NO, you’re going to a special school.” To which I replied “and I have to get there on THIS bus?” She nodded. Then I stood up and screamed “Lady, you’ve got the wrong GUY. My name is Roger Bell, but I’m not the Roger Bell you are looking for. I need you to let me off now. I mean it. My Mommy is going to whoop your ass if you take me to the wrong school on the wrong bus.” At that time, I wasn’t exactly sure what I had said that changed that nice lady’s voice from talking baby talk to me to one of pure EVIL. I saw her looking back at me thru that mirror above her head, her nice smile turned into a wrinkled bitter pissed off woman and her eyes squinted hard. If she had Superman’s Eye Power, she would have lasered me with her eyes and just cut me in half. But instead she started screaming for me to “sit my little tail down and do not say a word until we get to _______”. Before she could finish the sentence she drove us into a muddy ditch, I could hear the other kids screaming and crying. I saw my new pencils and crayons go flying in front of me. I grabbed the back of the bus drivers seat in order to not fall. I now remember my “olympic gold medal winning” feeling changing to a “OH SHIT am I ever going to get a whipping from Dad, I caused the lady to break the bus” feeling. That looked that had changed from nice baby talk lady to mad lady had changed to infuriated lady. She looked back at all the other kids and said “Are you all okay? with her eyes shifted to those of concern. Then she looked at me in my seat, her eyes changed back to wrinkly and squinty and then yelled “ROGER BELL, from now on, when you get on this bus – you need to keep your mouth shut.” I heard that alright. I scrunched back against the window as far as I could go. I remember hearing all the other kids crying so I went with the flow. I thought to myself, hell if I act like the rest of those babies they won’t believe her and they won’t know which one of us pissed her off enough to drive the bus into the ditch. She went to the back of the little bus, opened the emergency door and started lifting the kids down, one by one into the mud. She lifted each kid and gave them a hug and gently placed them on the ground. I was the last kid up. I was dreading this little adventure. So I kept crying like I was in terror and this was traumatizing (it worked with my Mom when it came to Bruce and Linda arguments right?) I remember she grabbed me under my armpits with a death grip so hard her fingernails were slicing thru my new shirt. She lifted me up. She started saying “I’m sorry for yelling at you Roger. But you need to be quiet while I am driving and you should never cuss.” CUSS? Who cussed? I had her there, I didn’t say any cuss words. Did I? Her eyes turned back to those of a saint as she stratigically placed me in a pile of mud with my new red shoes my Mom had just bought me. I remember looking down at them covered in mud. Those fake tears I had flowing changed. I was heartbroken. I finally got some new shoes that were my own, not Bruce’s old shoes, mine and this BITCH ruined them. All the other kids started making smartass remarks to me about how much trouble I was going to be in. I cried more and harder. These tears were 100% real and not fake. I was scared. Then the new little short bus pulled up, we all got on board. The mean driver lady told us that this bus will take us to school and that she will see us later to take us home. We got to school. I sat down in my desk, it had my name written at the top of it. I got my big pencil out, a couple of my brand new crayons were broken (I hid those) and the rest of the day was FUN FUN FUN! Then it was finally time to go home. We lined up outside of the school and waited for the bus. Our’s pulled up. I got on. I sat down. I looked out the window the whole way home and didn’t say a word.