Nolan’s carpool ride arrived as reliably as always. Mrs. Howard was always on time and she was just as sweet as honey when she spoke. Nolan sat down between Tory and her brother and looked down at the floor to prevent showing how embarrassed he was about their shoulders touching in the car. His shoulder was tingling from the slightest contact and he didn’t want anyone to know. The shoulder touching her brother wasn’t tingling either, he didn’t understand it but there was just something different happening there. No one could know, the kids at school would torment her and that would drive Nolan absolutely nuts if that happened. So down the road he went, looking down, looking away, trying to ignore the strange tingle in his arm.
At school, the busses were already lined up and ready to take the kids to the Indian mounds. No one had a backpack or normal uniform that day, just money for hubcap burgers and souvenirs. They lined up with their own class and teacher and of course in alphabetical order by their last name. Every teacher had to do a head count before they could get on the bus and every kid was supposed to be a few minutes early. There were some kids that just couldn’t ever be early even for special occasions. It was the same ones every day, walking in just barely on time because their parents were always running behind.
After everyone got into the bus the late kids showed up and the teachers had to adjust their counts and seat them in the back out of alphabetical order. It was a frustrating process. The kid who was supposed to share a seat with Nolan was, of course, one of the late kids. This left Nolan sitting next to the new kid, the one who had stolen the football. His name was David and he has tormented Nolan all year up until the football incident. He started out the ride by standing up and saying something ridiculous about Nolan to all his buddies in the back. Then he quietly spoke to Nolan like a friend with a shared secret. “Remember when we took that jerk’s football? Ha! He still thinks we’re friends!”
Nolan enjoyed the devious feeling of all this because he couldn’t stand those jerks in the back. It was so weird that David didn’t like them either, he was their leader. Nolan and David would be paired up for the rest of the day because they were seat buddies, so Nolan figured he better just go along and get along. He and David spent the rest of the ride making fun of the loud mouthed losers that David had turned against Nolan all year. Occasionally, David would yell back to them and have them all laughing at Nolan and then he’d sit down and talk trash about those idiots that used to be Nolan’s friends. None of them could see what David was doing but Nolan saw it and he thought it was funny once he was on the inside.