I was a good kid. Never made any trouble. Mostly I sat with my forehead against the school bus window feeling the rumble of the engine transfer to my brain box.
My friend Mike was more of a troublemaker. He got into an argument one morning and punched another kid on the arm. It was not much of a punch, but the kid wailed and the harried bus driver stopped the bus. Her hair was like a cloud of angry bees. At least that’s how I remember it. When we got to school, Mike was sent to the principal, his face in a resigned grimace that showed his experience in this kind of situation.
One morning, the kid brother of one of my other friends was in the seat next to me. He was making a nuisance of himself, focusing all of his considerable energies on annoying me. He made faces, poked me, said “la la la!” an inch from my ear. I finally got fed up and shoved him. His head smacked the side of the seat. He screamed, and when he put his hand to his head it came away bloody.
When the bus driver stalked back I was petrified. I had seen how these things went, and I had never been sent to the principal before. She looked at the situation, the kid with the bloody head, and the perpetrator, me. She mumbled something and just went back to the front of the bus. She had her own idea of justice in mind, I suppose, and felt that it had been served already.
At the bus stop the next day the kids were gossiping about the fight, how a kid had his head cracked open. The guy who did it sounded like a mean, ruthless bastard. They had no idea it was me. Because I was a good kid.