F3, Cycle 93 – Back to School
Low Vantage Point
Lloyd loved the first day of school. It was warm enough that he wasn’t in his little nest hibernating for the winter and could sit out next to the road down from the bus stop and watch all the children as they waited for the bus to collect them and take them into another grade. The first day was always the best. You could sense an anticipation that wasn’t felt throughout the school year and was only repeated and perhaps surpassed by the joy after they exited on the last day. (The days bookending winter break were similarly charged with joy and anxiety, but Lloyd always missed these as he was sleeping.)
Today the children would meet their new teachers. Or if they were in high school they would meet several new teachers. They’ve already heard about them from other kids a year older and have seen them in the halls but it’s different to actually be in a classroom setting with them. Some of them would develop crushes on a young educator while others would try to see how much mischief an instructor would put up with. Some would push too hard and get to meet the principal. By the end of the day the bus stop would be abuzz with chatter of how cute Mr. Layton was and how rough calculus was going to be.
Lloyds favorite sight on this day was the new shoes. (These were after all, the parts of the children he was closest to and therefore could see best.) There were Nikes, New Balances, Ballet Flats, Sandals and Etnies. The poor kids wore cheap plastic knockoffs from a bin at Dollar General that didn’t even have laces and seized their feet with Velcro bands. Some of the older kids wore scuffed up work boots that had seen hours in the fields around the bus stop during the summer and would no doubt see a few more right after school. Otherwise they would have worn tennis shoes like everyone else.
When the bus came and collected its cargo Lloyd was happy. He loved watching the children going off eager to learn and on their way to responsibility. It gave him hope for the future. He looked up at a big blue sky and took a deep breath of the fresh country air. But he didn’t look both ways before he began to scurry across the road to his friend Amos’ house and the right front tire of a brand new Honda Civic crushed his spine and left him lying in the road. Lloyd would have liked this child, he was a bright boy who had worked long hours at the Tastee Freez to save up for his car and he was taking all college prep classes this year. He was one of the brightest boys in his class and would probably be valedictorian.
Lloyd lay in the road playing possum (pun intended) for a while before a second car ran over his skull and put him out of his misery. He wouldn’t have liked the driver of that pickup truck. He came from a bad family and tended to be mean to both humans and animals alike. That was why he’d swerved to make sure he ran over the wounded groundhog who’d been enjoying the first day parade. He’d been smoking a joint and would be late for homeroom. He’d drop out in six months
But Lloyd would never know this because by the time the school bus returned that day to unload its payload, still wearing their new shoes and still full of hope for the year ahead, he would be in the bellies of several vultures and all that would remain of him on the road would be a stain.