It’s warm in here. The hot summer sun beats down on my world and gives my arms a farmer’s tan while I drive. I honk my horn and curse at the people around me. Stupid idiots; where did they learn to drive, the school for the blind? I curse again, because it’s cool, and because I can get away with it since my dad doesn’t know I’m here. No one knows I’m here. No one except my cohort in crime, Colleen, who sits to my right commenting on various oddities. Clearly I’m the better driver of the two, and thus I’m in the driver’s seat. My life has given me lightening quick reflexes and suspicious eyes, which means I can see danger up ahead on the road, from a hundred paces out. I love sounding like an old western.
Except today I’m not riding horseback. And I’m not in a sweet Steve McQueen ride either. I’m driving a bus. School bus, city charter bus, it doesn’t really matter; I’m the driver, which means I’m in charge. And none of my occupants are complaining that I’m only 11 years old. I look years beyond my age anyway, I’m sure they wouldn’t even notice. Except there are no occupants. It’s just me and Colleen, and our flourishing imaginations. We drive this bus 100 miles an hour. I’m sure it can go that fast in real life, because I live in LA, and everything in LA can go 100 miles an hour. And despite the fact that this bus is abandoned for some unknown reason in a back parking lot at a five and dime store by my house, it seems perfectly functional to me and Colleen.
True, we had to sneak in through the little side window by the driver’s side. Colleen is skinny, so I made her stick her long, lean body half through the window until she could pull the lever that would open the passenger door. And then I was able to come in, and simulate dropping money in the money box, and wave at all the make believe passengers that know me because we all take this bus every day. Except we don’t. Because this day is the first time I’ve ever seen the bus here.
Why aren’t there forty other kids playing in this bus? Are they crazy? This is the treasure hunt of a lifetime! Hot sun baking the insides of the bus a nice toasty 400°. Loud obnoxious horn to honk, though we try not to do it too often, so as not to draw attention to us. I don’t want some other smart ass punk forcing his way into our pleasure center. Especially since it took us a good hour to get in here. Or half hour. Telling time is tricky when you are eleven.
I turn the wheel madly, because some idiot on the road can’t seem to see my huge looming frame careening down the highway. Time for some glasses, you old geezer. Geesh. Had the movie “Speed” been invented yet, I would doubtless be pretending I had a bomb under my bus’ carriage, but I’m light years ahead of that movie. I don’t know, perhaps Sandra Bullock isn’t even born yet. Or maybe she is off somewhere making out with some pimply boy for the first time ever. I can’t worry about boys right now; I have a huge damn bus to drive.
This breaking into a bus business makes me feel like one of the Bowery Boys, and I imagine myself as a New York/Jersey type Italian mob kid, off for a joy ride in a stolen vehicle. Yeah, see? Or maybe I’m in a Hitchcockian short, and play the part of a murderer, desperately running from the law after brutally murdering an inconsiderate boss who overlooked me for a promotion. Better yet, I might be one of the detectives in Hitchcock’s “The Three Detectives” series, which I LOVE. Though of course they are all young boys my age. But maybe my daring acts, quick thinking and stupendous sleuthing skills would convince Hitchcock to write stories about a GIRL detective. Hmmm….I wonder if he is even still alive; maybe I could write him and pitch him the idea.
I have all day to come up with these fabulous ideas, and force Colleen into playing the sidekick to my hero. My fertile imagination is rippling like a frothy sea, eager to come up with a thousand scenarios for this bus ride…until the evil old man down the alley spies us in our luxury vehicle, and threatens to call the cops on us. On us? On eleven year olds? We didn’t leave this stupid bus here. And sure I’ve been wiggling the gear shift around all over the place, but it’s not like the keys are in here and we’re gunna take the bus to the beach. Like no one would notice on the road that they can’t actually see the driver of the big bus, because the head of the driver isn’t visible over the dashboard? Hello? Old man, are you serious?
Oh. Shit. Yes you are, and here you come wagging your old saggy arm at me! Guess this early minor rebellion of mine is over for now, but hopefully it can be continued later in life…