The Wrong Bus

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Authors: Lois Peterson
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Chapter Two
    â€œSchool today, as usual. Off you go,” Mom said the next morning.
    Katy Doyle, from the upstairs apartment, was in Jack’s class. She waited for the bus with him, as usual. So did Leah from the third floor. Today Leah’s tights were black and white squares. They reminded Jack of a checkerboard.
    â€œWhen I grow up, I’m going to buy my clothes where Leah does,” said Katy, as usual.
    As usual, Leah didn’t look at Jack or Katy. She just cracked her gum and stared at the sidewalk.
    Jack didn’t mind. He knew teenagers only had time for eight-year-olds when they babysat them.
    Jack let Katy and Leah on the bus first. Then he let on the lady who carried her dog in a basket.
    â€œLet’s get this show on the road,” said the bus driver.
    â€œCome on, Jack,” said Katy. She waited for him on the top step.
    â€œThis is my grandpa’s bus,” said Jack.
    â€œI bet you’re Jack. Noddy’s grandson,” said the driver. “He told us all about you.”
    â€œThis is my grandpa’s bus,” Jack said again.
    â€œHe died,” Katy told the driver in her helpful voice.
    â€œI’m sorry about your grandpa,” said the driver. His voice was kind. But his hand was on the knob that closed the door. “Hop aboard now. Let’s get this show on the road.”
    â€œCome on, Jack,” said Katy.
    Jack picked up his backpack and climbed on the bus.
    Today, instead of sitting beside Katy, he sat behind her. He pressed his face against the window and watched the streets swim by.

    Mr. Singh was sweeping the sidewalk outside his shop. He swept it every morning. A man carrying a briefcase and a tennis racket boarded the bus at the Rec Center. He caught the bus every day. A teenager with a skateboard and lots of tattoos loped up the stairs. He boarded like that every morning.
    Everything was the same as usual.
    Except Grandpa Nod was not driving.
    If Jack’s grandpa had been driving bus Number 26, he would have said something special to everyone who got on. And he would have called Jack a candy name. Something like Double Bubble. Maybe Sen-Sen. Or perhaps his favorite—Jawbreaker.
    This driver only grunted, “Hello.” Or said, “Let’s get this show on the road,” if people took too long.
    Jack and Katy got off the bus at school. Instead of saying, “See you later, Jelly Bean,” the driver didn’t say anything. He waited until Jack and Katy were safely down the steps. Then he closed the doors and drove away.
    â€œWho’s going to meet you after school now that your grandpa’s dead?” Katy asked as they walked into school.
    â€œI have to catch the bus home with you,” Jack said.
    â€œCool. How about you sit beside me this time?”
    Instead of taking the bus home with Katy, Jack would rather have his grandpa meet him. When Grandpa Nod picked him up, he always checked if Jack had eaten his sandwich, apple and carrot sticks. Then he ate whatever was left as they headed to the park, the bird sanctuary or the river to watch the tugboats.
    Sometimes they took the bus. Grandpa had a bus pass, so he could get on for free. He knew all the drivers. When Jack was with him, the drivers let Jack on the bus for free too.
    But usually they walked. And Grandpa Nod would sing.
    Jack walked into class. “Glad to see you back,” said Mr. Haworth.

    â€œJack’s grandpa died,” Katy helpfully told everyone.
    Jack went to his desk. He put his lunchbox inside it and waited for roll call.

Chapter Three
    After school Katy said, “I just remembered. I have to stay and practice for the concert.”
    â€œYou should have told me,” Jack said. “Mom says eight-year-olds are too young to ride the bus alone.”
    â€œYou won’t be alone, silly. It will be full of people. It always is after school.”
    Jack waited and waited for the Number 26 bus. The Number 13

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