Editorâ€™s Note: â€œCracks in the Cloudsâ€ is a piece of creative non-fiction. All of the events in the story are true. This is the second part of an 8-part series that will run weekly in the Collegianâ€™s Verve section.
Most of the country folk in my neighborhood thought Joan and Mary were odd.
They thought they were odd for rarely ever leaving their house. They thought they were odd because their driveway was gated and had a code. They thought they were odd because they had let most their trees and flowers die around the house. They thought they were odd because they were two older women who held hands and told each other that they loved each other.
They were my friends.
They hummed to Elvis Presley with me and told me their ghost stories. I remember pulling up in the big yellow bus and seeing their truck at the end of the drive waiting for me.
They never forgot.
They would wave at me and smile before I even got off the bus. Some kids thought they were my aunts or cousins or sisters.
â€œWhy do those weird looking sisters always pick you up?â€ Clay would ask.
He was a neighbor boy I knew who got off at my stop. He always had a horse and saddle waiting to take him home.
I despised him.
He picked his nose too much. He would wipe his dirty booger fingers on the backs of the busâ€™s leather seats. His father bought him soft red leather cowboy boots.
His father was a professional bull rider. Clay said he already knew how to ride bulls. He said he was the best kid bull rider in the country.
He said the bull he rode was 5 tons big. He talked with his dirty fingers too much. His shirts were always buttoned wrong and his belt buckles were always gold.
He sat in seat 13. I sat in 14, directly across from him.
My seat was torn.
His hair was short but wild, and he always had something new he wanted to talk about that he had learned from his alcoholic mother.
â€œI saw this movie that had two girls kissing in it. My mother said they would burn in hell for it. I think those girls in the blue truck that pick you up are going to burn in hell,â€ he said.
His voice had the tone that asked if I agreed. I looked out the window. My legs were crossed. I didnâ€™t like to fight then.
â€œThey will never go to hell. They make the best cookies Iâ€™ve ever had.â€ I said.
â€œDo they ever kiss? I bet they go at it all night long. You will probably go to hell for just knowing them,â€ he said.
â€œThey have a dog named JohnLuke. He knows every command dogs can even know, and if they told him to eat you he would. If they told him to eat your arms or legs he would,â€ I yelled.
â€œMy mom says they are called fags,â€ he said, kicking the leather seat in front of him with his boots, smiling.
â€œI hope the bulls you ride trample you,â€ I said, getting off the bus.
Staff writer Lucas Dean FiÅ¡er can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.