Chapter Six – A dose of medicine

Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

When I woke up I noticed Mom had laid out my new school clothes. My stomach was doing flips, everything was wrong.

My brand new jeans should have been washed first. They had too much of a crease down the front.  The blue and white striped shirt beside them had a yellow collar.  I hate collars, especially yellow ones!

My knapsack hung from the back of my chair, looking clean and flat. At least she didn’t get me some dumb cartoon bag.  A pack of pencils, and a pack of pens, and new colored notebooks were stacked beside them. One thing I did like was the look and feel of a notebook when it was new. No scribbles or smudges, and no work piled into it.

Mom wanted to walk me to the bus stop, but I talked her out of it.  I have been walking to school on my own for years, and besides I had Gabe.

I walked slowly kicking at stones, and talking to Gabe every now and then. I was careful. I only talked to him when no one was around.  Bruce had caught me once and I didn’t want that to happen again.

The air was a little cooler and though I hated to say good-bye to summer, I loved the feeling of fall.

A strong breeze messed with my hair. Yellow leaves hit my face as they twirled in the wind.  I tried to catch some of them. Gabe did the same.  Chomping and jumping at any that floated by his mouth.

There was no one my age at the bus stop.  Some moms were holding onto their children’s hands. kidsSome were busy buttoning coats and zipping up jackets. The little kids compared knapsacks, and ran circles around their moms.  I leaned on a nearby bench and tried to look cool.  Gabe sat beside me sniffing the air.

The big yellow bus, half a block away, chugged down the street, ugly black smoke spilled from behind.  The children jumped up and down pointing at it, as they shoved to be the first in line.

One of the moms found her way to the front of the line and made sure that the kids stayed safely back.  At the sound of the screeching brakes everyone became quiet.  Some of them looked at their mothers with big scared eyes. The mothers’ smiled and patted little hands, bending down to talk with them eye to eye.

I went to the end of the line, with Gabe behind me. I placed my foot up onto the first step, and Gabe backed up. All the kids and the bus driver looked at me.  I couldn’t call out his name or anything, so I just got on.  As I walked down the narrow aisle I could see him through the back window, sitting on the curb.school bus

The bus was packed, and with familiar faces, but not necessarily friendly ones.  It boiled down to sitting by Bruce or Leslie. I picked Leslie.  She kept trying to talk to me but I kept looking behind me out the window.  I saw Gabe following but he was going to have to run the whole way to make it to school at the same time I did.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Trevor.  I was so scared when you fell in.  I don’t know what it is with Bruce, but he always has to have someone to pick on” Leslie rambled on.

“You see that boy two seats down with the red hair and glasses.  Well that’s Grant McCabe, and he was Bruce’s last victim before you.”

“Well, I must be Grant McCabe’s best friend.”  I tried to joke, not knowing what else to say.

“I can’t wait to start Grade Seven,” she said.  “So what teacher do you want?  I know who I don’t want; the worst teacher in the school.  Oh ya, I guess you wouldn’t know about her, being new and all,”

I wished she would stop talking. I started to get sweaty. I twisted the strap to my knapsack so tightly around my fingers that they tingled. The smell of leather and mothballs from inside the bus made my stomach roll.

“I guess it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just glad we only have three days to start with.” I said peering out the window. There was Gabe, running his heart out.

“Oh it will matter all right, especially if you get Mrs. Mitchell.  She’s so strict you can’t even sneeze in her class without permission.  And she gives out a ton of homework.  And don’t ever come to school without it or she will have a total fit.  Boy I hope I don’t get her.”

“Ya, me too” I replied. Like I said, I wasn’t brilliant at conversation.

When we arrived at school I was anxious to see how Gabe was doing but he was nowhere in sight.  Bruce came right up behind me and slid my knapsack strap off my shoulder. It fell to the ground before I could catch it and some of my pencils rolled out.

“That Bruce is such a jerk!” Leslie said as she picked them up for me.

My face felt as red as Grant McCabe’s hair, who happened to be passing by when Bruce spooked me.  Grant had a huge smile on his face.

We lined up at the Grade Seven doors and waited for the teachers to come out and call our names.  Still no Gabe in sight.

When the teachers finally arrived everyone stopped talking..  The last teacher out was Mrs. Mitchell and sure enough, I was in the final group of kids.  When she called my name, the only good thing I could think of was that Bruce was not in my class.  But Leslie was and funny thing but she didn’t seem to mind getting Mrs. Mitchell after all.

Mrs. Mitchell was a short wide woman. I would guess about 100 years old give or take a few years.  She wasn’t smiling and she reminded me of my Grandma the way she wore her sweater over her shoulders. A little chain was attached to two clasps, which was pinched to each side of her sweater. Her hair was half-brown and half-gray and very curly. It looked as though she had stuck her finger in an electric socket, and her lipstick was definitely too bright.

Once inside the classroom she said, ” okay class settle down and take a seat, anywhere.”classroom

Everyone scrambled like ants after a crumb.  The back seats were filled up first and those who weren’t quick enough, had to sit in the front.  Luckily I remembered this routine from my old school and managed to get a desk third from the front, in the last row by the door.  I smiled to myself and turned to see Leslie in the row beside me.  She was fast for a girl.

Mrs. Mitchell got down to the rules right off the bat.  No chewing gum.  No talking without raising your hand. No bathroom breaks until the bell.  No note passing. No, No, No!  She expected us all to act like little ladies and gentlemen.  She handed out workbooks and gave us our first assignment.  We had to write a two-page essay on the most extraordinary thing that happened to us this summer.

As I was wondering what in the heck I was going to write, I saw Gabe standing outside our classroom window.  His tongue was hanging out and slobber fell off the end of it like slimy string.  How on earth could I write about a guardian angel dog?

When the recess bell rang I raced out into the schoolyard. I couldn’t wait to see Gabe and tell him all about Mrs. Mitchell. I searched everywhere but I couldn’t find him. Maybe the bell scared him away.  My heart bounced around in my chest thinking that perhaps he was gone for good.

playgroundI climbed the ladder to the top of the wooden fort with the slide, hoping the view from the top would help.  The only thing I could see was Bruce and he was coming this way. I squatted down and peeked out of one of the window openings. I guess his radar was turned on again because he came straight at me. As Bruce started to climb up, I saw Gabe come around the corner.

“Gabe, you’re here!” I said forgetting about Bruce.

“Hey squirt, my name isn’t Gabe and you know it.  Are you trying to make fun of me or something?  I think I will come up there and show you how to FLY this time,” Bruce put one foot up on the first rung.

I swallowed hard; pretty sure I was going to end up with a few broken bones this time.  I could have run, or tried to get away, but for some reason I froze.

Gabe circled the ladder, and looked up.   He came close to Bruce and sniffed him and let out a low rumbling growl.  He lunged as Bruce’s other foot left the ground.  He didn’t catch his foot, but he did manage to lock on to a piece of loose thread on Bruce’s sweater.

Bruce climbed up slowly, threatening me and laughing all the way, not noticing that his sweater had begun to unravel.  The higher he climbed the shorter his sweater got.

When Bruce finally looked down Gabe decided to take this game one step further. He ran towards the fence with that piece of thread in his mouth, shrinking Bruce’s sweater smaller and smaller.

Bruce’s screamed and everyone gathered around us.

When Gabe stopped, Bruce’s sweater was up to his armpits, and even worse, he had a T-shirt on underneath with teddy bears.

Bruce began to yell at everyone, not making any sense. He got down and threw the rest of his sweater over his head, onto the ground, and ran for school.

The bell rang and there was Bruce in the line up for his class, wearing his shirt inside out.

Gabe walked beside me and came right into the school.  When I got to my desk he sat underneath it and placed his head on the floor.  It was turned out to be a good day after all dog wag

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