Settling of Debt

I stared at the ceiling fan as it went round and round and round. Feeling dizzy, I slowly looked back towards the front of the classroom where our teacher was giving more endless advice about breathing deeply and counting to ten. I considered falling asleep, as I had done the day before. I had joined this class about how not to be afraid of flying at the age of thirty-four. I had joined it because my girlfriend insisted on it. She wants me to fly with her to California for a vacation. I can’t stand the thought of flying, and some worthless “self-help” class is not going to cure it. I turned to look back up at the ceiling fan, thinking back to that terrible day.
I’ve been a bus driver since I was twenty-six. I decided to become a bus driver after dropping out of yet another school. Surprisingly, even though I had gone to sixteen different colleges and transferred every time, this one had still accepted me. “You have potential,” they said. I nearly laughed in their face. The only reason I was trying yet another college was to avoid paying the endless amount of school bills that I had accumulated. The government will continue giving you loans as long as you are in college, so I just continued to jump around from college to college.
Eventually, I gave up on college. I tried looking for a job, but I could only find low paying jobs such as McDonalds or Burger King. No one else would hire me because I’m a little over-weight and because I switched so many schools, they assumed I had no ambition in life. The debtors started calling every day, asking me when I was going to pay all my bills. I had no one to turn to, and I started getting desperate. I knew if I didn’t pay my bills, something bad was going to happen to me. I hated that I had no good references and nowhere to turn. I watched a movie one night about a guy who faked his own death and ended up a millionaire. I decided to fake my own death.
I called my friends and told them I was going swimming on a night I knew there was going to be a storm. Then, I rented a boat. I popped a hole in the bottom of the boat and left a few clothes in the boat, watching the boat sink for fifteen long minutes. Once it had sunk, I called the Coast Guard and told them I was sinking and needed help, and left my coordinates. I disappeared into the night.
As I was walking in the woods, I noticed an empty cabin and went to stay in it. I ended up finding a dead body instead; the man had been stabbed and the knife was lying on the ground. I noticed he looked like me, and desperate for an identity, I stole it. I liked his name, Hubert Nelson, better than my ugly old name of Eugene Humperknuckle too. I didn’t know what to do about the fact that I still had no talent and no skill with which to earn money. It turns out the guy was a bus driver, which I learned when his boss called, asking why I wasn’t at work. I decided to try being a bus driver.
The first couple weeks went well. I had always been a good driver, and since I look somewhat like the dead guy, everyone just thought I had gotten a haircut and forgot to shave. The kids called me “Hairy Hubert” and would giggle, but they behaved well. That is, until one day.
It was a dreary day, and it had just rained. I was driving down Cobblestone Lane, the oldest street in Edensville. There were only a handful of kids on the bus as it was nighttime and the end of the route. It was pretty quiet and I couldn’t wait to be done. I was just about to stop to let off Eddy, the round, piggish looking child who ate twelve Twinkies a day, when the bus let out a loud bang before coming to a complete dead stop.
“Darn it,” I screamed, before resentfully getting out of my seat and going out to see what happened. I popped open the hood and looked inside. Smoke flew into my face, filling my nostrils and making me cough. I had to step away for a second. When the smoke had cleared, I tried again. I was never good at mechanics, and had no idea what was wrong. The kids had all raced to the front of the bus and were peering out, pressing their dirty fingers against the big clear glass, and I wanted to put on a good front.
I knew I would never be able to figure out the problem, so I grabbed my cell phone out of my front pocket and punched in the numbers of the big boss. I explained what had happened and he said another bus would come pick the kids up. I was to hang around until the tow truck came. I went back on the bus and told the kids we would be waiting for a little bit. Eddy decided to hang out on the bus and finish eating his Twinkie.
“How many twinkes do you have left,” I asked Eddy, knowing full well that he had eaten four on the bus ride home alone.
“This is my sixth,” Eddy said with his mouth full, so it came out more like “hs s my th”.
The other bus came about five minutes later and then, I was left all alone. It was growing dark and I was getting cold. I had no coat and nothing to do. I laid down on one of the bus seats and closed my eyes, thinking of how to decorate my house over the summer. I had decided that I would paint the walls light green when I felt something cold press against my head. I opened my eyes to see a man in all dark pointing a gun at my head.
“What…what do you want?” I stuttered.
“You know what I want,” the man snarled. “I’ve waited five long years for this. You thought you could continue to live your life and I wouldn’t find you? I thought I killed you once, but I’ll kill you again.”
“Is this about something I did?” I asked. I had stupidly forgotten that I was not myself.
“I’ve waited five years for revenge, Hubert. And you have the nerve to ask what you did? FIVE YEARS. You thought I would forget about the stunts you pulled in high school?” The man shook his head, and I could see he wasn’t very old, maybe twenty-three or so.
“I’m…I’m sorry?” I stammered some more, my body shaking with nervousness.
“You know that one time when you threw my head in the toilet and flushed it? And then, you threw me up against the bathroom and continued to beat me? But, that wasn’t enough either. When I was lying on the ground, bleeding, you stepped on me and screamed about being the best, crushing my bones. If the math teacher hadn’t come by, you probably would have continued. Killing you will give me an unbelievable amount of relief,” the man said.
“You sure about that?” asked a deep voice.
The man spun around to see a police officer with his gun pointed. “I’m going to have to ask you to lower your gun, sir.”
As the police officer took the man away, I was helped into a police car and driven back for questioning. It just so happened that the boss had called the police to let them know that the bus was on the side of the road. They had offered to come by and check on me, as the extra bus was having problems starting.
I was just thanking the police officer for saving my life when a news station flashed on the small black television set in the corner. “THREE PLANE CRASHES IN ONE DAY” flashed across the screen, followed by gruesome pictures of deaths. I shuddered, realizing how close I had come to being another death like that. At least mine was because I stole someone’s identity and was somewhat deserved, while these people had just accidently stepped onto the wrong plane and ended their lives. Since then, I have never wanted to go on a plane.
“We are now going to step on a plane,” I heard vagely. I suddenly snapped back to reality. Stepping on a plane? I was not told of this. I had taken the class, figuring I could fake going on a plane and then, just tell my girlfriend I still couldn’t do it. What? This was not part of the plan!
“Um, excuse me?” I asked, raising my hand. My teacher, a man in his early fifties with his salt and pepper hair turned to look at me. His gray eyes seem to bore into the back of my head.
“Yes, Mr. H-u-b-e-r-t Nelson,” he growled, emphasizing each of the syllabus in my first name. He liked when no one asked questions and instead listened to everything he said, nodding like a mass of zombies. Questions were normally not allowed.
“I don’t wanna go on the plane.”
“It is not a choice,” he snapped. “You signed the waiver when you joined this class and you are going to enter the plane. Only on the ground. Why else are you in this class if you don’t actually get on a plane?”
“Ah okay, but can I just go to the bathroom?” I asked, suddenly getting an idea. “I really have to pee.”
He glared at me, but said, “Fine.” I darted out the door, thankful I was already wearing my coat and I had never bothered to bring a notebook, so I had no belongings. I flew out the door of the building, jumped behind the wheel of my red Ford and drove off into the wind, never looking back. No one can trick me into doing anything I don’t want to do, and that’s one thing college will never teach you. I should know; I have attended seventeen.

Settling of Debt


Joined March 2008

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