those girls on the bus
we were in rick’s car
heading toward another dance
where i would do nothing but stand
against the wall with the other losers
while couples kissed and groped on the
away from the eyes of catholic chaperones
“who do you like?” she asked me.
she was rick’s girlfriend, cheri.
rick had been dating her for a few months
and he liked to tell the guys how she moaned
and we all ate it up because the rest of us
weren’t getting any pussy
and by the looks of us, none of us ever would.
for my part, i was fat.
240 pounds fat.
i knew my place.
“i don’t like anyone,” i said.
cheri looked at rick. “is that true?”
rick shrugged. “how should i know?
jay is a closed book.”
then cheri turned back to me. “you can
tell me, right?”
cheri turned around and slouched.
she had a way of pouting that i hated
and that rick tolerated because he was getting
the sex and the moans.
then rick looked at me in the rearview.
“okay,” i said. “there’s a girl on my bus
that i think is all right.”
cheri spun around. “who?”
“oh, you know her,” i said, knowing
this was all going to go to hell for me.
“yes! yes!” cheri said. “ronnie and i are friends!
we sit at lunch together! oh please, jay, let me put
in a good word for you. you two would be great
i laughed. “are you kidding? look at me.”
cheri grew dark. you could tell she was violent.
i wondered what she was like in bed. “just because
you’re overweight, doesn’t mean you can’t
get someone. look at me and rick.”
and it was true. rick was thin. cheri was overweight.
they were as bad as sprat and his wife.
“all the same,” i said. “i don’t want you to put
in a word. it’ll only ruin things.”
“fine.” cheri spun around and slumped again,
and rick looked at me through the rearview
but this time i figured, fuck him, i had my own
ass to protect.
and monday came
as mondays do.
and it was miserable.
and the same assholes were still in school.
and the same asshole teachers did the same thing.
and i waited on escape or death.
when i got on the bus, cheri was there.
she was sitting a seat away from veronica cross.
veronica was with her two pals.
one of them had gold-whore ringlets in her hair
and the other had a big nose,
and i was sure no one was fucking her either.
“hey, veronica,” the big nose one said.
“yeah,” veronica said.
“i hear you have a new boyfriend.”
“oh you’ve heard.”
“i haven’t,” ringlets said. “who is it?”
“it’s jay grochalski,” veronica said. “isn’t he
just the sexiest thing.”
“unbelievable,” big nose said. then she laughed.
“if you don’t do him, i will,” ringlets added.
and then the bus exploded in laughter.
the cool guys in the back shouted shit at me,
and all of the girls snickered and creamed their pants
with joy at my embarrassment.
even the guys i was sitting with laughed.
then i looked at cheri.
she was facing the window and looking out
at the ugly suburban landscape.
her face was red, and she had a hand over her mouth.
her eyes were tear-streaked.
i wanted to go over to her and tell her it was
that somehow we get though it.
but, of course, i didn’t believe that shit for a minute.
and anyway, when cheri removed her hand from
i could tell that she was laughing too.