I boarded the number 7 AC Transit bus at 7:23am and slid into a middle seat next to the window. The green seat next to me, which had been illegibly tagged with a permanent marker, lay slashed open with the sparse innards poking out. The bus was relatively unpopulated with just a couple drowsy regulars sprinkled about. I stared out the scratched and nearly opaque window as we barreled down College Avenue. I slid down in my seat and settled in for the twenty minute journey. I had been following this same routine since the fourth grade and was now far into my freshman year at Berkeley High School. Throughout my entire public bus experience, I had remained an observer. I was quite by nature and bore the physique of a twelve-year-old. I wouldn’t say that this Bay Area bus had jaded me, but rather heightened my senses to the oddities of the world.
The bus skidded to a stop by the Claremont Hotel. Some chatty Chinese women boisterously hurried on to claim the seats closest to the driver. Some more students reluctantly entered, shifting towards the back section. Oddly, Parker Parsley did not enter amongst the bustle of the others. I had become accustomed to his swagger and confident voice. Over the years I had gained what I would have liked to think was a “minor” infatuation. I had chosen this seat specifically to be in earshot of his most interesting conversations.
Parker was a member of a gang consisting mostly of upper-middle class white boys. His gang lifestyle, however, hardly paralleled that of Tony in “Westside Story.” I had only ever noticed tough talk and excessive graffiti. If a rival gang existed, it was unbeknownst to me, perhaps dominating another bus line. Despite this “bad-ass” reputation, Parker was normally quite prompt and regular.
The rickety bus trekked on. It made countless stops to relieve itself of noisy passengers, only to gain another six rowdier ones. It seemed that the noise of my co-commuters was proportional to the brightness of the morning. I disembarked on Shattuck Avenue in front of what had been a very unsuccessful Eddie Bauer franchise. I followed the crowd of other students down Allston Street towards school. My wandering mind focused on the drudgeries of the day, that I barely noticed the police commotion at the school entrance. Sadly this scene was not completely unusual.
“Yet another bomb threat or a pathetic attempt at arson?” I asked a girl standing next to me.
“I’ve only been here ten minutes, but some kids are saying there’s a dead guy at faculty parking.” She responded shockingly unfazed. I made my way through the crowds of whispering students. As I approached the courts, police officers meandered through the swarm, yelling for us to: “disperse and go to class.” The crime scene had been barricaded off and impossible to view even on my tiptoes.
“Pretty creepy huh?” My friend Emily asked as she slung her arm over my shoulder.
“Oh hi!” I startled, “yeah, hella creepy…”
“Who do you think it is? A bum? Oh! Maybe it’s that ancient art teacher Ms. Hibbard. She seems on the verge of keeling over.” She mused excitedly.
“You’re horrible!” We laughed as we made our way toward our first period English class.
All of the ensuing classes were disjointed. Many of the students had deemed this event as a valid excuse to ditch class. There were actually enough wobbly desks per person today. On a normal weekday, the back ledge of the classroom was lined with students balancing their notebooks on their laps. The few remaining kids exchanged animated whispers with their neighbors. The teachers seemed distracted as well, but ironically grumbled more about their difficulty parking this morning than “what the world is coming to.”
Before sixth period, I rammed my way through the overcrowded hallways in a desperate attempt to reach the third floor of the C building. Students greeted their friends loudly, which rudely halted the flow of traffic. I grumbled to myself as I bounced between peers and lockers. This sea of students carried you with their tide, despite your desired destination. I exhaled as I finally reached the less populated haven of the third floor. Cigarette smoke seeped from underneath the bathroom door. This was the cleaner of the bathrooms due to the two flights of stairs necessary to reach it. The “cleanliness” was displayed by its retention of the majority of the stall doors and the minimal amount of graffiti and period blood smeared on the walls. I had learned to avoid Berkeley High bathrooms in general by hold it until I relieved myself at the Y during lunch.
i'm about to introduce both the murder and identify the corpse in the next couple paragraphs. i think that i also need to add in some more dialogue.