I wish I could say I was ingenious about it. That I'd come up with the idea and worked it all out ahead of time, been a man with a plan, like they say. But first, I'd actually need someone to impress with my ingenuity. Second, I’d need to give a shit. It’s been awhile now that I stopped bothering with even impressing myself. It wasn't worth it. You see, the first ride I copped on the school bus was just a simple matter of coincidence. I took advantage of an opportunity, that’s all. Some could say even that’s an improvement for me these days.
I was committed to the long haul to the liquor store, on foot, as I always am, but it'd been a rough night and that's saying something for me. For as long as I've been drinking I don't seem to get no better at estimating how much I'll need from closing time until the liquor store opens again around eleven in the morning. Sometimes the manager will be there early and see me waiting, sitting on that overturned milk crate around the side of the place, and he'll do me a solid. Either come around and tell me to come on or sometimes he'll just bring my usual out to me in a brown sack. He knows I always bring cash. I'm sure he's skimming some off the top. Why would I care?
Everyday, except Sundays – the hardest day to plan around what has become my life – I walk by the lot where all them big yellow school buses are kept. It’s some place where either they service the busses, or where they just spend the night. Then on school days they all line up and idle just past the gated opening to the lot. That first time I copped a free ride I was just walking by as usual. They were all lined up there on the frontage road, before making the rounds to pick up the kids. They all just idle there for some reason I don’t understand. It’s always pissed me off a little. Not because I care about the environment or nothing. I just hate smelling like diesel fuel like I always do when I walk past the 30 or so of them stretched out for what seems like at least a half mile.
That first time, the last one in line, had its emergency door cracked open, sort of swaying on its hinge. And that’s when it came to me. All the busses no matter where they go or who they are picking up, all of them head out in the same direction, down that five miles of frontage road I walk every morning, except Sundays. They have to go in that one direction, down that five miles of nothing before splitting off in whatever direction when they reach the freeway overpass and there’s more directions for them to head off toward.
Like I said, it’d been a rough night and the sun was coming on pretty hot for eight in the morning in February. So when I saw that cracked open door I went into a squatty little crawl like and dashed toward the back of that last bus and just dove right in through that cracked open emergency door. Smelled of vomit and was all damp. The floor of the bus, I mean, not me, that back row floor where I was laying out of sight of the driver’s rearview. Some kid must have tossed his cookies on the way home and the driver just discovered it this morning, hosed it out the back emergency door and forgot to latch it. Anyways, I held the door so it wouldn’t lock or nothing and I got to ride the whole five miles of frontage road. When it stopped at the light I slipped out the back before it went off to scoop up its kids.
That was a good day and it got me to thinking. Thinking I was too damn old to be walking all that way to the liquor store every morning but Sunday, which is the worse day on account of the law not letting the liquor stores to be open at all, and since I’ve never been good at rationing, Sundays have just been the worse days since my accident.