"I am a stranger here," thought The Kid in Autumn 1956
The Kid stood at the last stop of the route. The yellow bus hissed to a stop and he climbed up three steps to the aisle as the bus jolted ahead. He stumbled slightly against the first seat to the left and got glares from the two girls seated there. Walking the aisle of the moving bus was like walking a deck at sea. It made him unsteady where he had been merely uncertain before. The bus was on its maiden voyage of the new school year. It had been cleaned over the summer. The compartment filled with the odor of diesel fuel; later it would be spiced with the smell of peanut butter, sweat and old fruit.
There were a couple empty spaces on the seats near the back. Someone stuck out a foot and tripped him as he reached the midpoint and a lean boy threw a leg across the open place beside him. The boy looked out the window as if he had never noticed The Kid coming toward the seat. The Kid slipped into the other seat. The single heavy set occupant by the window grunted, but made no effort to move over any. The Kid sat half off the edge. No one spoke.
This was not a promising beginning.
The Kid had not done well in ninth grade, where he had chosen the Academic Course. He had slipped through Algebra with a D and taken the first and only F of his curriculum vitae in Latin. His family had told him repeatedly he wasn't going to college, so he saw no reason to continue in the preparatory program. He had registered for Commercial and now he reported to his first class.
He had choose typing as his elective. At twelve he had said he'd be a writer and he thought learning to type would be an advantage. When he reported for his first typing class it was four typewriters short. He and three others were forced to Art as their elective instead. It would only be for the first semester, they were assured. Next semester the forbidden four would be returned to type away. It never happened. He was kept in Art the full year. The Kid never learned to type properly.
At home, whenever Rich wasn't available, he would retreat to his bedroom and peck at his battered Underwood typewriter, one his grandmother had given him bought from some second hand shop. It was probably as old as his "new" school, its case was frayed on all corners and a couple of the keys stuck, but he treasured it.
The trips to town gave The Kid the opportunity to be with his two best friends of that era, Ron and Stu. He and Ron could still explore the hills about town, still catch an occasional movie together. They could hang around Stu's large property and play some three-man baseball or go to the farmer's market together to play the silver ball or record little forty-five rpm records in a booth.
So now it seemed his destiny was to have these infrequent touches of humanity outside his general loneliness. Rich and he spend some time together after school. He saw his old friends for periods of the weekend. Most of the time he was ensconced over his typewriter in a fantasy world of characters of his own creation.
Some things were about to change.