"Gonna ride that baby everyday. Woo who, the magic bus."
FIRE - CHAPTER 7
by Mark Oliver
Riding the long yellow salami to school was about as much fun as
experimental dental surgery. One and a half hours each way,
bumping and slamming and swinging all over the padded green seats
is enough to make or break a NASA cadet, let alone a small kid
and his lunch bucket. Tommy Roe had travelled in this manner from
7:00am to 8:30 am in the morning and again from 3:20pm to about
4:30pm each evening (Phyllis had a tendency to cut a few corners
on the way home, and more than once had been hauled up in front
of the parent/teacher board to account for her speeding tickets).
By the time the bus reached the Cedar Hills trailer park on the
7th concession road, delivering papers was about the furthest
thing from the young boy's mind.
At the rear of the bus, most of the highschool kids played some
type of card game or another. Usually it was euchre and Mike
Lacocka was a notorious cheat, but got away with it because his
mother just died and no one wanted to upset him anymore. Ed
Hoover kept the colour commentary on everyone's hands by slyly
peeking over the backs of those involved in the game. Poor Ed
suffered from Euchre Chin, a rare form of perpetual facial
bruising; a direct result from getting himself elbowed quite
viciously following the untimely revelation of a right bower or
otherwise giving away a player's strong suit. Timmy Mason, a
distant cousin of the bus driver herself, had earned his own
nicknames though his rather unorthodox hair style. 'Burrhead', or
'Curly Joe' was often his tag and Timmy didn't seem to mind too
much. Only once when Ed Euchre Chin Hoover asked him if he got
stuck on the way out of his mother and her crotch hair started to
grow on his malformed skull did Timmy lose his cool. Euchre Chin
became Blackeyes for about a week until the dark circles under
his eyes began to fade. Then things went back to normal on the
bus. Cards being shuffled, everyone getting razzed, and Tommy Roe
sitting ten seats back from the front clutching his lunch box and
trying not to throw up.
Finally, one cold winter afternoon, on the way home from another
dull day at North Augusta Prep School, Phyllis saw a flash in
that long narrow mirror which she was continually staring up
into. The bus came to a jerky halt along the side of the dirt
road about five miles from trailer park. At first Tommy was
thankful for the reprieve from the random motion of the long
since forgotten shock absorbers and their reaction to the
countless pot holes which mark the side roads like dimples in a
flattened golf ball. But when Phyllis started to squeeze her
bulbous ass in through the narrow walkway between the rows of
bench seats, all the while staring at Tommy with her lips pursed
and nostrils somehow clenched, that sickening feeling started to
return to Tommy with the volume way up high.
"What's that you've got in your hand?", Phyllis asked. Mike
Lacocka was sitting in the bench across from Tommy and the back
of Phyllis was directly in front of Mike's face. The entire
euchre gang burst out laughing as Mike held his nose and waved
his other hand in front of his face as Phyllis bent over to talk
to Tommy 'eye to eye'.
What Tommy didn't know, was that Curly Joe, who was seated a
couple of seats back of him, had just taken a pen from behind his
ear to mark down the score of the game they were playing. What
Phyllis saw, in her infinite paranoia and mistrust of all the
rotten kids on her sixty thousand dollar bus, was Tommy Roe
scribbling on the back of the seat in front of him, or worse,
cutting into the ten year old vinyl upholstery.
Tommy slowly opened both of his clean white hands and revealed
nothing. A small section on the frost covered window which Tommy
had been keeping clean with the flat of his hands was now
beginning to cloud over again - the snow was really falling hard
outside, and before long no matter how clean Tommy kept his
window, nothing of the outside world would be visible. Tommy's
heartbeat quickened and he imagined being thrown off the bus (as
Phyllis continually threatened to do to anyone who upset her in
any of the thousands of ways in which that was possible), left in
the middle of a blinding blizzard with no way home, and worse, no
food or drink.
"Well where is it then?" she hissed and Tommy could smell the
tuna fish sandwich on her warm repugnant breath. Mike Lacocka was
really turning it on now. He had buried his head beneath his
winter jacket and was flailing his arms around like a drowning
sailor. The coughing fit which he started to feign finally broke
through Phyllis's conscious thoughts of murder and she spun to
face him. She pulled the jacket from over his head and landed a
well placed open handed punch squarely on the flat of his
forehead. Mike's head snapped back and he slumped down in his
seat with his eyes closed. The euchre crowd was bezerk with
laughter. The tattered old deck of 24 dog eared cards flew up in
the air and drifted down all around the back four rows of seats.
Burrhead, who inadvertently started this whole confrontation
yelled out, "Hurt me, hurt me!" in mock sexual tension.
Ed Euchre Chin Hoover screamed, "Do it to me baby!" and began
thrusting his groin against the back of the seat in front of him
with growing climatic moaning.
Phyllis yelled out over the crest of laughter which became
trapped in the sealed tubular bus alcove, "Sit down, Shut UP!"
But that only served to increase the revolt fervour. Some of the
little kids at the front started to cry and a couple got out of
their seats and tried to get out of the front door. Once a few
were stuck fumbling with the long silver handle which controls
the door, one of the older boys up front got up to help them with
In her bid to regain some authority, Phyllis grabbed Tommy Roe
by the ear and yanked him to his feet. "AHHHHH," he screamed and
the little ones all screamed with him in vicarious pain. Half of
the front of the bus were now outside the bus and involved in a
mini snow fight war. The parade to the front was getting clogged
and in the bottle neck of the turn to descend the stairs to
outside, one fat student was shoved into the driver's seat. While
trying to regain his footing and place in the rushing line to
leave, he yanked on the emergency brake and disengaged it from
its position. The bus started to quickly accelerate. Phyllis
instantly forgot about tearing off Tommy Roe's ear and Mike
Lacocka's smart ass antics and started to push her way back to
the pilot's chair. Her chair. Her beaded seatcushion covered
thermoblanket ass warming constipating fart absorbing chair. But
she might as well have been trying to push a rope.
Outside the children screamed and laughed and watched the bus
slide faster and faster down the snowcovered dirt road. When the
bus finally collided with a culvert in the eight foot ditch a few
of the little boys started to cry again.
Tommy Roe was rubbing his ear and standing on top of the side of
the overturned bus when the first car drove by ten minutes later.
During the past five years on the bus, Tommy sat in the same seat
halfway from the maniac at the front of the bus, and halfway from
the card playing fun at the back of the bus. For 90 minutes in
the morning and 70 minutes each afternoon, Tommy had sat quiet
and motionless, planning for just this eventuality.
"Be Prepared", his boyscout leader had taught him, and sitting
in the seat beside the only emergency escape window had finally
paid off. As he took a long pull off of his thermos, Tommy was
glad that he remembered to fill it at the fountain before
boarding the bus again tonight. His mother had long since given
up on asking Tommy why he always brought home a full thermos of
warm water, and now she saw why. Tommy had planned for this
"Hi Mom," he said casually and jumped down off the yellow salami
and skidded to the car. "Phyllis finally flipped her lid."
The school was officially closed the next two days due to the
ravaging snow storm. But really it was the funerals of four
euchre buddies and one bus driver which kept the kids and staff
away. After the weekend on Monday morning another long yellow
salami pulled up in front of the trailer park. "Good morning!"
the pretty young bus driver said. "Sit anywhere you want fellas.
And no writing on the seats!"
Tommy sat where he always sits. Halfway from the front, and
halfway from the back.
Just in case.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.