“See you tomorrow, Virginia,” I yell as I leave class room six.
“See you tomorrow, Sharky. We will try to get some more writing done so we can finish your book,” says my favorite teacher, Virginia Bender. Virginia is like a big sister to me. We have a special connection. I can talk to her about anything and she takes the time to listen. I am so glad I have her as my fourth grade teacher.
My brother, Lloyd is waiting outside of the class for me. Lloyd and I run down the stairs of the old school building, I love the old wood rails all polished with wonderful banisters to slide down when no one is looking.
We attend Seattle’s AEII school program. It is housed in a school called University Heights Elementary. Half of the school is a regular elementary and half is alternative.
Which is a more informal, student led way of teaching and learning. We even have different
schedules so they can keep us apart. The kids on the other side seem to have an attitude problem.
Even though I am a girl, I can hold my own. I have three brothers. Two of my brothers, Phil and Lloyd, twins, are thirteen months younger than I am. My baby brother, Erick, is four years younger. I have to keep Phil and Lloyd from killing him. Lloyd wanted to take him back to the hospital a week after mom came home with him. Loving him has never been a problem for me. He is someone for me to take care of. Being the oldest of four kids, I get the job of making sure we all survive the bus ride through the city to home. I also have to keep them out of trouble during this time.
Two buses and the man with the hat
My mom doesn’t drive. She was involved in a car accident when she was twenty-one; she has no desire to drive a car. Besides she has a bad case of nerves and that doesn’t seem to help. Since Dad works for the Boeing Company during the day, Mom and we kids get everywhere either by bus or legs. That is how I learned that I can get around this whole city with some change.
Anyway when mom enrolled us at AEII, she taught us to get home on the city bus. In the mornings our neighbor Steven’s mom, Faye, gives us a ride. She has two other kids she needs to pick up in another part of the city in the afternoon. Steven rides the bus home with us.
We find Erick sitting up on the old wood railing outside his class. Ed, one of the second grade teachers walks up behind Erick and picks him up. Ed is 6’4” and loves to sneak up and lift the kids up, as if he is weight training. He sets Erick on his feet on the floor, my brother is laughing.
Taking Erick’s hand I set about the task of finding Phil. The playground is usually where I can find him.
Phil’s favorite place is the pipes. They are the drainage kind, big enough that you can sit in. I go out and grab Phil and we are off to the bus stop across the street. The number seven runs every ten minutes. We wait in front of Jack in the Box, which is across the street from our school.
Once on the bus I pay for us and gather all of our transfers, so we can get on our other bus. Our ride downtown takes about fifteen minutes. We always like to sit in the back, especially the boys. They don’t bug other passengers as much when we are in the back. They can be kind of loud. I like to watch out the window as the bus goes down University Way. There are lots of people on the street. There are students, musicians, artists and business people, a lot going on. The boys are busy talking and teasing each other. Erick always sits by me so I can keep an eye on him. He is so cute people always like to try to talk to him. He is in first grade and I don’t want him to get lost.
We take the bus to Third and Pine then walk across the street to our bus stop in front of McDonald’s. The smell of French fries and burgers wafts out of the busy doors. This is a perfect
place for people watching, we see a lot of different people here. Across the street is a big movie theater. They have been playing the same movie for over a year; ‘Deep Throat’ is the title. I have asked mom about it several times but she always blows off my questions. Strange, maybe she doesn’t know what the movie is about. I am not sure about the X rated either, she won’t tell me what that means. We have to wait downtown for half an hour for our connection. I keep track
of the boys while checking out all the people.
Every day there is a young man at the stop, but he never rides the bus. He always wears a suit and a hat. There are girls that come walking up the street to stop and talk to him for a bit and then leave again. Same girls each day, he hangs out in a doorway like he is waiting for them.
There are a lot of strange people at the stop also. Sometimes they will head our way and try to talk to us. I notice the man in the hat is always keeping an eye on us. When someone that makes us uncomfortable comes along and tries to talk to us, the man in the hat will step over and tell them to get lost. They always leave without arguing.
He has a funny accent; it sounds like he is black, even though he is not. He has blonde hair that hangs to his shoulders and blue eyes. He never pays too much attention to us. Just chases away the weirdo’s and makes sure we are cool until our bus gets there.
He makes me feel safe, looking out for us. It is so nice to have someone there to help me take care of my brothers.