Sunday, June 12, 2016
Dan The Bus Driver
It was a typical day in Tejas, Texas during the month of September. The leaves were transitioning from their spring color to the fall and dropping from the branches of the trees. Many birds both small and large were flittering all about singing different songs as some were packing their bags to head south for the winter season. Classes in Tejas had started back for the fall semester right on schedule. Most of the hoopla surrounding the federal criminal investigation by the Department of Justice into Chief Paul Bick and other city officials over the previous year had finally come to a conclusion with no arrests ever being made. Once more accusations of corruption at the highest level, were levied at Chief Bick by the investigative reporters at Channel Three Action News.
The large lengthy yellow metallic animals otherwise known as school buses could be seen ferrying students all around town picking students up in the morning, and then dropping them off at their homes in the afternoon. Most of the bus drivers for the Tejas Independent school system were of the average middle- age. Most of the drivers being middle-aged were in their mid-forties to early fifties. With one exception. That being Dan Moren. He was the oldest bus driver currently working for the Tejas school district. Dan was in his late sixties, but oddly enough to everyone else he didn’t look a day over forty-one and that was despite having a somewhat chubby body himself Dan didn’t have a single wrinkle visible anywhere on his face. Dan was constantly asked by many of the chubby female drivers what the ultimate secret to his youth was. After being asked repeatedly what his secret was, he claimed to not have a secret at all. He attributed his eternal youthfulness to mostly eating right, exercising whenever he could and in general just plain taking as good a care of himself as he could.
However, not everyone was totally convinced Dan was being completely honest or as forthcoming about how he was able to maintain his mildly youthful looking appearance despite his actual age. Miss Louise Crow; one of the senior bus drivers who’d been driving for the school district for over thirty years, and now in her late fifties felt that there was quite more to Dan than what was visible on the surface. Every time Louise was around Dan in the bus barn area she would get an uneasy vibe. [The bus barn was the place where the buses were maintained and then where the bus drivers would initially retrieve their bus]. To Louise it felt like some kind of dark emanation was literally and physically coming from him. Almost like an ocean wave was hitting her as soon as she would pass by him. Her skin would literally get goosebumps anytime she interacted with him and she just never could really explain the feelings she would get.
What made her even more suspicious of Dan was the fact that he never came to any of the school sponsored events when they were held, such as school fundraising events like the yearly carnivals. Louise would’ve thought that Dan being a school employee would’ve wanted to help support his place of work. It wasn’t mandatory that he showed up, but she just thought it was odd that most of the other employees usually showed up except for him. Dan she noticed also seemed to be quite the private person more than every other employee as on several occasions Louise attempted to engage him in low-key casual conversation whenever she would see him out and about in the community. Eventually the time would finally come Louise noticed that when she encountered Dan, he simply turned and walked away rather than risk engaging her.
At the present time it was the month of October. Two years or more almost after the Santa Claus murders had mysteriously ended. A small group of parents were at the school’s yearly Halloween carnival speaking with a few faculty members while their children engaged in their usual fun filled activities. While they were talking, the subject of Dan Moren came up. Well it wasn’t brought up by accident actually. Louise Crow brought the subject up intentionally. She tended to be known as the town or school gossip. Some of the older parents when they were asked, they claimed to know almost virtually nothing about Mr. Moren or where he was from. They could only answer that he seemed to have worked for the school since the very beginning of time.
“Well you certainly couldn’t tell by his looks.” The mother of one fourth grader remarked. “He seems to have found the fountain of youth and he must’ve got it all bottled up.”
The mother of the fourth grader in question was Melinda Davis. She was a short portly older woman in her mid-fifties with shoulder length dirty blonde hair with thick curls and green eyes. She was dressed conservatively like most people her age. It was a fact she was especially proud of considering she went to church regularly. She also prided herself on keeping up that clean and stuffy appearance as it wouldn’t serve her or the community any good if they knew she was screwing the head off of the head preacher of the First Baptist of Tejas. He was a married man after all, and for that matter so was Melinda Davis. For the last ten years she had served with overwhelming distinction on the PTA of the Tejas school district. Her husband Edgar Davis owned a Mexican food restaurant out by the mall and Eastex Freeway. Together Melinda and Edgar had just one daughter named Martha after Melinda’s own grandmother. So a scandal would not be in Melinda’s best interests.
Then there was Tim and Debbie Clarke who had recently moved to Tejas from Liberty which was a small community just outside of Houston. Together the Clarkes’ had a set of twin boys around the age of eight. Tim was in his mid -fifties with a slim build, grey thinning hair on an oval like somewhat slim head with little beady grey eyes. Debbie was much slimmer than her husband, but that was because she went to one of those commercialized gyms five days a week. Regardless of her workout regimen, she still had a pleasantly looking chubby cheeked face with grey-ash hair shortened to her shoulders with thick curls and she had hazel eyes. Her husband Tim was the manager at a local car Ford dealership and Debbie worked at a large law firm that dealt specifically in the area of criminal matters.
The other set of parents was a redneck couple by the names of Robin and Rooster Farnsworth from nearby Lumberton which was a small town like Liberty. Robin Farnsworth was the manager of a Sonic fast-food restaurant in Lumberton while her husband Rooster was the manager of the only AutoZone in Lumberton. Robin and Rooster were both in their late forties and together they shared only one child; a young boy around the age of nine by the name of Lucas. Robin was much shorter than her husband standing at only four feet with a plumper figure than most of the others in the group. She had shortened red-orange hair that was cutoff just above her neckline in thick curls with green eyes, freckles all over her fat face, and her skin was so pale it was almost vampire like. She was so pale because she avoided going outside if she could help it, but she didn’t have any choice in the matter today as her kid had begged and begged her to bring him to the carnival. Her husband
Rooster was your typical redneck hillbilly, complete with the big barrel of a beer belly and all. Rooster was even missing a few teeth and had a huge wad of tobacco stuffed into the inside of his right cheek. At first glance at his puffed out cheek, one would think he was a human squirrel with his cheek stretched out like it was. That was if one didn’t know he had a wad of nasty tobacco stuffed in there. Of everyone standing around in the small group, Robin and her husband were the most poorly dressed; wearing only plain white t-shirts and faded blue jeans with cowboy boots. They weren’t even wearing clean clothing for that matter. Their t-shirts and jeans looked heavily stained as if they had been rolling around in the dirt which gave the impression that they must not wash clothes that often. The other parents however were dressed to the nines in decent clothing, even though it was a children’s carnival.
There were other parents walking around the carnival nearby with their children, but it was with this particular group of parents that Louise Crow, along with another bus driver by the name of Estelle Bernard (also in her late fifties), and then a teacher by the name of Leslie Carter were busy gossiping about Dan Moren. The small group was standing near a dunking booth that had the of the elementary school principal sitting inside waiting for some of the kids to come up and toss softballs at a metallic target, which would then of course dunk him into a large tank of icy cold water. At least it should’ve been cool water but with the Texas humidity, most likely the water would be lukewarm at best if not warmer. Outside the dunking booth, Louise Crow stood dressed in a sky blue t-shirt and jeans with white tennis shoes. Louise had red hair with some silver streaks which at the moment was fixed up high in a nice curled perm. Dangling from both ears were these large fake gold loops. She was wearing her makeup as she liked to look nice wherever she went. Louise had a husband but he was in the military and at the moment he was serving his monthly weekend in Houston. In front of Louise stood the parents she was speaking with, and then to her right stood the other bus driver Estelle, and then of course to the left of Estelle stood the teacher Leslie Carter.
Louise watched as a little black haired girl and red-headed boy both stepped up to the dunking booth with their parents at their side. She smiled at them giving both kids a small friendly wave and then waving at their parents. She wished the kids “good luck” as the two kids stepped up and began to throw softball after softball trying to hit the large red metal target in front of the dunking booth. Inside the dunking booth the principal who was sitting on a wooden red bench laughed pointing at the kids telling them, “you'll never dunk me!” It only seemed to make the kids wanna try that much harder. Louise laughed as the little girl and boy together managed to throw two final softballs thus hitting the target. The elementary principal lost his seat and was plunged into the tank of water. Once that was done Louise turned back to the parents and the other two faculty members standing there in front of her.
“So as I was saying......every time I see Dan, I’ve tried to invite him to these little fundraisers, or anything we have here but he continues to either avoid me altogether, or when he does finally speak to me then he says he has no interest whatsoever in consorting with us. He’s so weird!” Melinda nodded her head. “That’s interesting that you mention that Louise. You see I was at Kroger’s just last week, and when I saw him well I waved at him. And you’ll never guess what he did.” “What did he do?” Estelle asked. Melinda looked over at Estelle with a disappointing look.
“Well he made a scowling, evil face at me for whatever reason. I tried to think of whatever I could’ve done to piss him off but I just couldn’t.” Melinda said with a frown and a simple shake of her head. Louise wondered aloud. “I wonder why would he act that way? Melinda he’s gotta know you’re on the PTA.” Louise shifted the position she was standing in so her hands were on her slim hips. “I mean c’mon now! He’s gotta know if he gets on your bad side you can get him fired!” Louise said. Melinda shook her head at Louise. “I don’t know honestly. It was just the weirdest encounter out in public with anyone is all I can say and I can usually get along with anybody. I was just trying to be friendly with him.” “Maybe he’s one of them gays or something and doesn’t want anyone to know!” Robin said trying to offer an explanation for Dan’s odd behavior. Estelle shook her head wildly. “No, no I don’t think that’s it at all! You can usually tell if a man’s gay or not.” Estelle gave a smile showing a full spread showing off the false teeth she recently got. Estelle was proud of her new set of teeth so she tried to show them off as much as she possibly could. Tim Clarke asked Estelle how she knew for certain. So Estelle went about and offered her explanation of how a person could tell. “Well you know, there’s the little signs. You know what I’m talking about right?” Estelle said pointing over at Rooster who was standing next to his wife. He nodded back at her knowing to whom she was referring. “Yeah Louise she’s right! If a man doesn’t ever drink beer, socialize with other men, or he only socializes with women and he never watches sports, then more than likely he’s some kinda queer!” Rooster when he spoke had a very deep and thick East Texas accent.
Debbie Clarke who stood to the right of Melinda, looked and made a funny face at Rooster. She spoke up in a semi-angry tone, “Excuse me please, while I faint at your caveman like ignorance! But my nephew who goes to Stephen F. Austin and is at the top of his class just so happens to be gay! And for the record he loves sports, he drinks Budweiser, AND he goes deer hunting every season!” As Debbie stated the last bit she slapped her husband Tim who was standing on her right playfully in the chest with the back of her hand. Rooster then tried to apologize, but of course Debbie wouldn’t hear any of it. “No it’s okay! You just go right ahead and remain comfortable in your damn ignorance!” Debbie said rapidly with a little smile and a nod of her head. “Oh damn!” Rooster said. “I see the truth now! You must be a damn commie!” Rooster said with a frog-in-his throat like cackle. Debbie then rolled her eyes at him. Tim who stood next to Robin, opened his mouth to say something to his wife but then a stern look Debbie was giving him just then made Tim quickly think otherwise. Louise quickly changed the subject back to Dan.
“Regardless of how we feel about certain other subjects; Dan Moren is what’s at the heart of the matter here. And personally, I don’t think he’s gay. I do think there is something else to him though. Something seriously wrong with him. Something sinister like.” The teacher Leslie Carter was in her late fifties. She stood taller than everyone else in the group with a pencil thin frame. She had a head of straight snow white hair that was very thin that came down to just above her neckline. Her face was almost skeletal thin looking with pale blue and grey eyes. Leslie had been teaching for the Tejas school district for the better part of thirty-five years and was close to semi-retirement. She was wearing a simple yet conservative black dress with slip on shoes. She stood next to Louise and Estelle standing on Louise’s right with her hands folded together peacefully in front of her. She now turned partially and looking at Louise she asked, “What do you think it could be then Louise? I mean if he’s not one of them gay fellas then what is it?” Louise shook her head. “Well I don’t know Leslie, but he’s not gay I can tell you that. But this much I can tell ya’ anytime I’m near him, I feel nothing but bad creepy vibes coming from him. I tell ya’ I think there’s seriously something wrong with him.” Louise said. “Like maybe he’s a total creeper or something. Or he’s hiding something really bad.”
Robin’s eyes showed deep concern. She looked over at Louise. “Well aren’t they supposed to run that background check thing on your people when you get hired?” She asked. Melinda then looked past Debbie and Tim over at Robin and nodded. “Of course they are Robin! It’s the school policy before anyone gets hired.” She shrugged her shoulders. “So if he was hired then he must’ve passed the background check.” Louise looked over at Melinda when she said that. “Well you’re a member of the PTA.” “What’s your point?” Melinda asked her. “So my point is maybe you can tell us something more about him.” Louise said with a click of her tongue. Melinda chuckled and gave a little shake of her head. “I may be a member of the PTA but that doesn’t mean I hire people.” Tim sighed. “I think what Mrs. Crow means is…” Tim started to say. “…is can you find more out about Mr. Moren by looking through his employment file?” He asked. Melinda’s eyes went wide and she scoffed at the mere suggestion. “I can’t do that! If anyone found out I went snooping through the employment files... I could get into SO much trouble!” Estelle shook her head, rolling her eyes in disappointment. “Then how are we supposed to know more about him then?” Estelle asked. Melinda waved a finger at everyone. “How about the bunch of ya’ just find out the old fashioned way? How about all of ya’ get together, invite him over for some tea or something, and then question him if ya’ wanna get to know him that bad?!” “Because that won’t answer for us everything we really want to know!” Louise insisted.
“And just what is it about him really that you are all dying SO badly to know?” Melinda asked. “I think what Louise really means to ask is….is this Dan feller one of them damn baby lovers?!” Rooster finally asked. Tim’s eyes went wide as did those of his wife. They both sighed together in unison. “Oh I don’t know if I like where this is going. I don’t know if I like this one bit.” Melinda said. “Well you better like it Melinda!” Robin said. Her tone was elevated slightly. A few kids came walking by with their parents heading to a candy stand that had been setup near the dunking booth so no one said anything else for the moment. After she was sure it was safe for her to talk Robin continued. “Because if something happens to any of our children because of this weirdo, and I find out you knew something and you could’ve prevented it all along…” Robin’s voice trailed off as she glared angrily at Melinda who at that moment refused to look at her. Melinda was busy watching her own daughter bob for apples nearby. Melinda finally looked over in Robin’s direction when Louise asked if Melinda was paying attention. Melinda turned looking at Robin and the others, holding her hand up.
“Okay, okay just everyone calm down! Look I’ll talk to someone tomorrow at the administration building and see what I can find out. Just relax in the meantime. But please, don’t do anything you’ll regret.” Robin with a snarling look on her pale face nodded at her quickly causing her red orange curls to bounce. Rooster who’d been quiet for the moment suddenly spit out a huge wad of tobacco on the ground causing everyone in the group to make a sour looking face. He then grinned showing a mouthful of yellowish-brown stained teeth. Debbie made a dramatic face as if she was going to puke. Louise and Estelle both simply waved their hand at him shaking their heads, while Leslie reached over slapping Rooster gently on the back of his head and reminded him he was in the presence of ladies. Melinda then stated she’d be back after a visit to the women’s restroom and turned, walking away from the group.
Somewhere in the farthest corners of Tejas. In a part of the city not many people go if they actually care about their own safety. The Port of Tejas to be more precise. One of the areas of the city known to be a primary sanctum for low-life drug dealers, the prostitutes, and their pimps, among other criminal element that seemed to be present in the city. In a small one room studio apartment above one of the many industrial shipping warehouses overlooking the many loading docks, Dan Moren was in the middle of a very important yet strange ritual. A strange yet obscure ritual he’d completed countless times before. Dan Moren had a chubby face with hardly any hair but a few grey strands on an almost oblong looking head. Over beady looking blue eyes he wore thick glasses with lenses that were often described as “coke-bottle” type lenses. At the moment he was wearing a solid white shirt stuffed into solid black polyester pants, and he was wearing black and white saddle shoes. His figure was not slim in the slightest but then he wasn’t a fat walrus either. In this one room apartment that he currently rented, Dan sat on his knees with his hands stretched out in front of him and reaching up into the air. At the moment his eyes were closed, his head was tilted up and back pointed at an angle facing up at the heavily stained ceiling, which at one time might’ve been white. The carpet he was kneeling on might’ve at one point been a light brown but now was covered in stains from years of neglect, and was a darker colored brown from the many stains of unknown substances. Given the neighborhood he was living in, there was not a bit of telling what the stains were.
The walls of the apartment were painted a dark forest green. Attached to each of the four walls in the studio apartment were a series of wrought iron shelving with multiple candle holders with special fittings for multiple size candles. Around the room in the candle holders appeared to be more than two dozen large black and purple candles sitting in each of the fittings. Each candle was lit providing a small bit of light considering there was no light turned on overhead at the moment. On one wall of the apartment in particular, near a small hall leading to the exit was a small bookcase with three shelves filled to the brim with books on both Greek and Roman Mythology. On the same wall was also a small mirror. Lying before Dan on the worn out carpet, on a worn out feather mattress was the unconscious form of what appeared to be a young Caucasian boy that appeared to be around the age of twelve. The young boy had thick black hair that came down to just the center of his forehead. He was lying flat on his back wearing what looked to be a red Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle short sleeve t-shirt, blue jeans, and a red and black pair of those overly expensive LeBron tennis shoes.
As Dan continued gazing up at the ceiling keeping his eyes closed, he began to chant a series of words in another language that sounded almost like ancient Latin in tongue. He continued to chant the same words or phrase repeatedly for several minutes. He would pause in between each segment of words for only a few seconds to catch his breath then he would begin again with the same chant. [Dan’s words translated to English from ancient Latin is as follows]. “Oh my goddess Juventas! Hear my words that I come to you now with this proper sacrifice! Continue to bless me please as you always have! Please accept this child as my offering to you! This boy is at a ripe young age, and he will more than give you the sustenance you so desire, so that in turn you can bless me!” Dan continued to chant his words.
At the far wall of Dan’s apartment in between one of the wrought iron candle holders, there was a stone mantel. Sitting on the mantel was a stone statue perfectly shaped after a female’s head with a full face and large open eyes, including a semi-long flowing mane that stopped at the neck. As Dan continued to chant the phrase a sudden bright blue translucent light began to fill the room descending first from the ceiling. After the room was completely overtaken by the bright blue light, a loud voice with a feminine like quality to it filled the room with a loud thunderous echo. This voice also spoke in Latin. [The translation of what is said is as follows].
“I hear your pleas, you ever diligent little worm! And I thank you for this willing sacrifice that you so graciously offer to me! Once more you have kept your promise to me! And once again I shall do the same as well, as we agreed upon over one thousand years ago!” Dan temporarily opened his eyes to face the bright blue light that was now filling the room. “Oh thank you my goddess! Thank you my goddess!” Dan said praising the mysterious voice. The feminine voice sounded off once again. “For this exquisite sacrifice, I shall grant you ANOTHER fifty years! The same as before!”
As Dan watched with eager anticipation, the translucent blue light filling the room instantly began to focus its intensity then changed into a single wide beam, moving from filling the entire room and down to the still form of the young boy. Dan’s eyes went wide with happiness and he smiled with glee knowing what was about to occur. He had watched the same thing happen many, many times before over the centuries.
As he continued to sit back on his knees watching, the blue beam of light made contact with the boy’s body. As Dan watched the boy’s smooth skin began to literally wither away, and at the same time the blue beam of light then began to separately channel a secondary translucent beam of blue energy directly into Dan’s own face. He closed his eyes now as he could feel a sensual warm sensation moving throughout his entire body. As the secondary beam was moving over Dan’s own body he was feeling not just a warm sensual feeling but also a tingling feeling as well. Meanwhile the boy’s body had been completely and finally released of all its flesh. All that remained was nothing more than a small skeleton wearing the same clothing that only moments before the young boy had. Instantly Dan began to undergo a metamorphic change of some kind. Immediately his face and body grew quite slender. So slender that the large eyeglasses he was wearing fell from his face and to the carpet. The hair on his head that was once grey and thinning, now started growing rapidly and then changing instantly from grey to black. The hair also grew in so quick and so thick to a long length that the hair ends reached down in front of his eyes.
There was one final utterance by the mysterious voice and then all was silent and the blue light had faded completely. “I will return in fifty of your years for another sacrifice, unless you summon me sooner! Bring me another worthwhile morsel, and I will repeat my same gift to you! Fail me and I will take everything away I have given you!” Once more all was quiet in Dan’s apartment. The only light now in Dan’s apartment came from the lit candles around the room. He stood up and walked over to the hall near the exit and stood before the mirror hanging on the wall. Dan peered at himself closely. He examined his face with great detail rubbing his now slender fingers all over his extra smooth and even tighter looking skin. Then he ran a hand through the thick head of black hair he now had. “Girl you do good work. I have to admit.” Dan said to himself. As he turned heading back into the main area of his apartment he began ripping off his clothing. He went over to some shopping bags sitting on the floor in a far corner of the room and pulled out a smaller red t-shirt with a yellow trendy looking logo on it, a pair of faded blue jeans, a pair of ankle socks, and then a pair of black and white low-top Converse shoes.
After he was fully dressed out in the new threads, Dan looked around the studio to see what things he wanted to take with him. He decided he wanted nothing from his old life since where he was going he’d be starting over anyway. He then took a final look down at the skeletal remains of the little boy lying on the mattress. “Sorry little buddy, but my life is more important than yours. And anyways, by the time they find you I won’t even be here anymore.” Dan then went around the apartment blowing all the candles out one by one. As he was blowing out the last candle he thought about two previous “gifts” to his goddess Juventas. First there was the little handmaiden from France in 1643. Then there was the boy who was the nephew to the king of Spain in 1693. That one there was the tough one! He almost got caught with that one. And that was just to name a couple. Shortly after that he decided it was time to come to the new world. Something he realized though. Each time he made a sacrifice, it became easier and easier to snatch the children and offer them up. Something else that he noticed that became easier and easier was how his conscience took a backseat to what he was doing.
Eventually Dan just reminded himself that his life was more important and that he was the only one who mattered. Dan also had to remind himself to pick a kid that wasn’t gonna be missed. And this time he picked a hell of a doozy. The kid he picked this time was the son of a crackhead mother and a father who was doing life in Huntsville for the murder of a state trooper. No one would miss him. No one would be around to report him missing. And no one would miss Dan either after he was gone. Of course then his name would no longer be Dan either. It never was the same. His name that is. Each time he’d offer a sacrifice up to Juventas and he got his youth back, Dan had to change his name. Of course along with the name change naturally he had to move. It’s just the way it was. It was the way it had to be. Dan pulled out his wallet and took a look at his new identification. “Christopher Amherst!” He read aloud to himself as a smile formed across his face. “What a hell of a name!” He then pulled out a bus ticket for a Greyhound terminal from his other rear pocket. “Look out New York City! Here I come!”
A few days later after Dan Moren who now had become Christopher Amherst had vanished from town, his abrupt disappearance was reported out of “concern” by Louise and Estelle to the school administration. It was the administrators who in turn then then reported the mysterious disappearance to the Tejas Police. When the police went to the address on file that Dan had given when he was initially hired by the school, and they entered his apartment, they discovered the skeletal remains of the little boy still laying on the rotting mattress. The senior detective who was investigating the case, “Detective Trevor Hildebrandt” immediately recognized the scene for what it was. Seeing the purple and black candles, the stone mantle, and then the rotten mattress with the skeletal remains of the child. Trevor knew it had to be some kind of sacrificial altar for the purpose of summoning some devil or some other demonic force. A warrant was immediately issued for Dan Moren’s arrest and then a picture of him was sent out to the press, which in turn had no hesitation showing the photo on television in the hopes someone had a tip to share.
Unfortunately for the police they were no match for an immortal goddess and her dutiful servant. Each time Dan retained his youth, not only did his appearance change but his fingerprints were also slightly altered. The minute the unknown child was sacrificed in Dan’s apartment, the person known as “Dan Moren” ceased forever to exist. Now there was only Christopher Amherst originally from Glasgow, Scotland. With an open warrant for the person known as Dan Moren. The question on everyone’s minds at Tejas Elementary was the same. Who and what was the person they once knew as Dan Moren?
©The previous story is a complete work of fiction. Any names, characters, places and incidents contained herein are products of the author’s highly overactive and creative imagination. Any resemblance to any actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please do not re-print from my stories anywhere without my express written permission. This is my creative work and even though I may choose to share samples of some of my work online with close and personal friends, I would hope no one would take advantage of my good nature and steal portions my work and then change them up for their own benefit or personal gain. This notice at the end of all my books/stories serves as my official copyright notice. Any characters in official capacity including names of characters or having to do with the actual plot of the story are all copyrighted by me.