For this story, I’ve recorded an audio version which will allow me to read it to you. Audiobooks have been part of my literary diet for some time now. Making this recording has given me a new respect for the art. As for this first recording of moi, well, I’ll leave it for you to decide if it’s any good. I do welcome constructive criticism—in fact, crave your thoughts. Because with each thoughtful comment, I hope to become a better storyteller.
Listen along now, by pressing the arrow below.
He knew it was coming the way he knew a cold sore was going to sprout on his lip. It was a sixth sense feeling, the twinge of something erupting without showing itself to the other senses. He was going to be picked on today.
Seymour Dekker could feel the eyes on him when the bus came to a stop, or maybe it was just the sun reflecting off the bright yellow paint. He checked the side as it arrived, scanning for open windows—projectile ports for the unwary—but they were all shut. Studying the sand near the curb, waiting for the flipper sound of the bus door to open, he stepped up into the open maw and was immediately swallowed by the big yellow monster.
The bus lurched forward just as he swung into a seat, the only seat left available to him. For three quarters of the trip down the throat of the yellow beast, kids sat at the outer limits of their seats. Seymour didn’t challenge any of these seat-hogs for fear of bringing attention to himself. In a battle of wits, Seymour wasn’t necessarily unarmed. He was an imaginative kid. It was just a matter of being a little slow on the draw.
He didn’t remove his backpack, but slouched into it like ill-fitting body armor. He had the seat to himself and sat close to the window, watching the blur of yards, fences and bushes go by as if the bus remained stationary and the world rushed past.
Awareness creeped in like the pause between television show and commercial. The bus had gone silent, never a good thing.
“What’s this?” a voice said directly behind him which he recognized as Aaron Bohmer. “Nobody brings lunch anymore, See-more-pecker.” That was Aaron’s favorite bit of name calling for Seymour, who had to admit his name was an easy target.
Jason White cackled at that, and sing-songed, “See-my-Dicker.” It was certainly a lesser heckle.
Aaron had the brown bag open, looking in when Seymour turned. “Hey, that’s mine.” He reached for it but the backpack weighed him down. Slow on the draw again. His mother must have left the zipper open at the top of his pack.
Seymour scrambled his legs around to the aisle and stood. He didn’t advance because to do so would put him in the middle of Aaron’s group. The group consisted of Jason White, Kyle Morrison, Brad Torkle and, of course, Aaron Bohmer.
The others would likely act differently without Aaron around. Aaron orchestrated everything they did and they followed his lead; would follow him straight off a cliff if that was where he was going.
With the lunch sack cupped in his left hand, Aaron pulled out a bag of potato chips and tossed them back, saying, “Here you go, Brad, you like chips. Don’t you?”
Brad caught them between two open palms the way he would catch a particularly bothersome fly. There was a loud pop and chip crumbs escaped to the bus floor. “Thanks Dicker,” Brad said, and then poured the remaining chip crumbs into his mouth.
“Come on guys, that’s my lunch. Give it back.”
Aaron removed a sandwich bag containing three chocolate chip cookies. He smiled and tossed the bag back to Kyle. “Wow,” Kyle said. “Didn’t figure you for holding out with the chocolate chip cookies.”
Seymour saw what came out of the bag next and his mind started reeling for a way to stop this—for a way to rewind like he could with his favorite DVD at home. His mother rarely put candy bars in his lunch, but this morning she had included three snack size Snicker bars. Aaron tossed them back to Jason—one at a time. “I can’t eat those because I’m allergic to peanuts and I don’t like them anyway.”
Seymour was breathing hard, hyperventilating, and he felt an exhilarant rush of adrenaline. His body was experiencing a fight-or-flight moment and Seymour wanted nothing to do with either one. His left hand had a white-knuckle grip on a seat back and his right was clenched in a fist at his side.
“You guys can’t do this,” said Seymour. “I’ll, I’ll starve and have to tell someone.”
“Yeah? Who? Who you going to tell?” At the bottom of the bag was a sandwich which Aaron began unwrapping. “Hey, will you look at this. My favorite: blow me and sleeze.”
It was Seymour’s favorite too, and his mom put a light scrim of peanut butter on the cheese side—just the way he liked it. But he only thought of this for a half a beat. His main concern, trying to find a way to stop the madness was a moot point as well.
Aaron stood there, a smug look on his face, taking bites from the baloney and cheese sandwich. Seymour couldn’t contain himself anymore. Aaron was the reason the others acted the way they did. Aaron was the one who handed out his lunch to everyone. It was all Aaron’s fault. He was a mean kid who didn’t deserve to live. “I wish you’d just drop dead Aaron Bohmer.”
Chewing a little slower, Aaron’s face began to contort with a querulous look. He dropped the sandwich and his eyes went wide. Clutching at his constricting throat, he dropped to his knees. His mouth moved like a fish out of water, or maybe he was trying to say something. But this time he was slow on the draw, and never had a chance to point out he had something in his own backpack to ward off the symptoms he was experiencing. Symptoms, he knew, that had to be borne of his peanut allergy.
The bus driver saw the whole thing in his expansive rearview mirror and stopped the bus. That’s when Aaron Bohmer fell back, dead as a doornail.
When the bus stopped, Seymour Dekker became just: Dekker—the kid you didn’t want to mess with. When the bus stopped, the legend of Dekker began.
That’s the story and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think.