TRACES SPRING 2016 - Page 59

Crime Fighting Bus Drivers by Julianne Beene

Bus drivers don’t get very much credit. They should, though.

Scott thought this over as he ran through his morning high school route, which the former paramedic favors over the rest. The students were somber and always asleep, soft snores barely audible over the rumble of the old bus’ engine. Normally, they woke up just in time to get off and into the school, not to be seen again until 2:30, where it was Scott’s and his fellow bus drivers’ job to return them safely home.

The two-way radio blared an ungodly sound before a woman’s voice crackled through, high and panicked.

“Route 13 to Liberty Base, come in.”

Scott’s attention snapped from the wary glowing eyes of a deer to the panicked tone of Mary. Heart racing, he grabbed for the receiver, putting it to his lips as Larry at the base answered her call.

“This is Liberty Base; what is it, Mary?” The man’s voice caused several students to stir, and whispers began to float across the cheap leather seats. A crackle and a muffled voice mumbled from the scratchy speakers, before a high-pitched electric shriek silenced the bus. A horn wailed from behind the bus.

He cursed, waving a hand to the poor soul behind him to go around, before flipping on his cab lights and driving on to the next stop.

Mary’s voice finally broke through the static emanating from the radio. “I just witnessed a guy coming up to the girl I was maybe twenty yards from and picking her up and stuffing her in her car, and oh God, they drove away. She was fightin’ and strugglin’ and I couldn’t do anything.” Scott could now hear the distinguished sounds of his fellow driver’s students beginning to shout and scream, while behind him, phones lit up and more hurried whispers rose from the now-lit bus.

A new voice jumped into the conversation. “Mary, it’s Tovah. Did you alert the police?”

Static. “No.”

Larry asked, “What was the student’s name?”

“Kathryn Pezzuli,” answered Mary, the distress in her voice evident. Scott reached for his phone, all the while keeping an eye on the road. He knew an officer at the school, Dmitri Krushnic; effectively, he pressed the call button, slipping the cell into position between his ear and his shoulder.

The rough voice of his Russian-born friend growled from the phone, after the first ring; always after the first ring.

“Scotty, how’re you?” The voice was too cheerful for the situation. Scott answered with silence. “No? Okay, then. What can I do for you?”

Scott kept his voice in a hush, “Dmitri, listen to me. A girl just got kidnapped, on Mary Soot’s route. Says her name is Kathryn Pezzuli.”

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