Highballers and Wall Flowers

Chapter Seven

Why Callie suggested the city bus, she didn't know. She hated riding the bus and she could tell that Jackson wasn't crazy about it either. It seemed that the only people that ever rode it were gangsters and really old ladies that either didn't know any better or flat out didn't care. Nevertheless, she could feel the tension in the air as she and Jackson made their way up the steps to enter the bus.

Jackson paid the fare for both of them and they didn't even have time to find a seat before the bus started moving again. The smell of smoke was overpowering to Callie's sensitive nose and she even coughed a few times. Jackson pushed her towards the back of the bus away from the other riders and plopped down in the last seat.

Callie could tell Jackson was still mad about his car so she didn't say anything to him. She simply stared out the window at the dirty downtown streets and thought about what a mess things had gotten into. The bus stopped at the corner of a drugstore where a group of five tough-looking dudes were waiting. A feeling of dread swept through Callie as they entered. The bald guy with a leather vest on (whom she assumed was the leader) led his party to the back where she and Jackson were seated. While the other four guys sat down around them, the bald guy stood in front of Jackson and remarked,

"Hey. You're in my seat."

Jackson looked up at him through his glasses and replied, "I don't see your name on it."

Are you trying to get us killed? Callie asked him mentally, fear apparent in her eyes.

The bald guy laughed, a big booming sort of laugh, and his cronies snickered behind him. He suddenly stopped laughing and became dead serious.

"Listen, punk. If you're trying to look all tough for your little girlfriend, you're messin' with the wrong crowd. I could chew off your head like you were a piece of tobacco." He gave Callie a leering glance, causing her to slide down in her seat. He smirked at Jackson. "And then my boys and I'll have your girl for dessert. I bet she tastes good."

One of the guys sitting in the chair in front of them, a mohawked fella with nose rings, ran a hand through Callie's hair and giggled. Callie shivered with fear, pressing herself against the back of her seat as if trying to become a part of it.

Jackson's eyes flashed. He knew he was guilty for picking on Callie himself over the years, but seeing these downtown freaks messing with her got him riled. Without even rising out of his chair, he delivered a straight punch up into Baldy's nose. Callie let out a shriek, not having expected him to do that.

Baldy hadn't expected it either. He wiped his nose and saw blood before looking down at Jackson. He had murder in his eyes and he grabbed Jackson by the neck of his polo and punched his face. The other gang members started cheering on their leader while Callie started screaming for help and uselessly trying to push the two apart.

Jackson's mouth was bleeding from the first punch and he could feel the sting. Enraged now, he started trying to go at Baldy like a madman. Which was hard to do considering that he was about a foot off the ground in Baldy's grasp. Baldy laughed and slammed Jackson hard against the back of the bus, causing Jackson's glasses to fall off and land on the bus floor with a crack!

Not able to see more than a foot in front of him, Jackson was blind and defenseless. Callie saw this and was now trying to kick at Baldy's legs and screaming for him to stop. Baldy thought her attempts at bravery were hilarious and laughed. He shoved Jackson over to the side and faced Callie.

"You like to play dirty, little missy?" he snarled before literally pouncing on her and trapping her beneath his huge body.

Jackson could hear Callie screaming but he could barely see what was going on. He saw a fuzzy dark shape that he figured was Baldy laying on the seat that him and Callie had been sharing just five minutes before. He comprehended what was going on and reached out to grab Baldy's shirt and pull him off. The other gang members were starting to get excited now. Jackson could hear them cheering as the fuzzy Baldy rammed into him again. Jackson's whole body was in pain by this time and he was starting to feel a little dizzy.

The bus driver finally acknowledged what was going on and jerked the bus to a stop. Everybody fell forwards roughly as the bus halted.

"Stop all that this instant!" the bus driver screamed in her shrill voice. "Now sit down before I come back there and blow y'all away, y'hear?"

The woman must've been known for her violent outbursts because Baldy immediately plopped down with his buddies. Jackson's head was swimmy. He felt like he was going to puke. Callie noticed this and she grabbed his hand and rushed to the front of the bus to get off.