My busstop, when I was young, was the stop sign at the nearer end of my road. Truly, the stop was more dominated by the tree at the corner of my neighbor's property - a vast, sturdy, and peaceful looking tree which blossomed delicately in it's season... odd, silky blooms... pink and feathery, that danced eloquently in a breeze and felt slimy underfoot, when driven to the ground by the fat drops of a good Gulf rain. This, indeed, was the quiet strength of the corner, as the stop sign was frequently uprooted... by us occasionally, but more often the many folks whom this evidence showed took less than adequate care in the curve which my road bisected. A curve once the quaint home of a corner store that must have burned down sometime prior to my birth and was never rebuilt... The clearing of its once foundation and small parking area was overgrown with tall weed patches and creeping grass and broken bottles, and backed up to some trees, which began the edge of the neighborhood across Gordy, which was another town and another school district, and another place entirely.
Now, here and there over the ten or so years I waited for pick-up in that spot, my busstop would have visitors. Sometimes a kid would move the area and share the stop for awhile. Sometimes also, kids would get bored of waiting at their stop, and with nothing better to do in the morning would walk to ours. But for the most part, it belonged to my friend David and me. Quite frankly I can tell you that I think the visitors I mentioned before came for David. He was a grade above, lucky enough to look pretty much like me at the time, and more talkative. Nevertheless, I enjoyed their occasional company, the visitors. In my shy way.
However, one morning some fellows road up to our stop on their bicycles. At that time, David and I shared the space with a dude who lived around the corner in these apartments that always seemed to cramped to me, even from the road, and wanted very much to be an island villa community of some sort. Very green. I didn't know him that well... I never went over there. Anyway, I suppose the day before I'd had some disagreement with one of them and he'd vowed he'd get me. I'd forgotten about it completely by that morning, so I was a little surprised to see him. And he'd brought some friends. And they challenged me, and I stepped forward.
Really, all I wanted as a kid in general was to be left alone. I could ignore just about anyone so long as they allowed it. I'm not sure why people liked to mess with me, but they did. And really it never ended all that well for them. Which was part of why Brad brought friends, I'm sure. He'd need them. So, resignedly confident, I turned to face them and let them come. Here it was. So be it.
But it didn't come to that. They continued their yelling, but got back on their bikes and rode back the way they came. Well... that's curious. Turning my head, questioningly, it was abruptly less curious. David and this dude I barely knew- cannot remember his name nor any features- had taken position just behind either of my shoulders. I remember the cut of their faces, how they seemed stone-colored in the shadow of resolve as they watched these people ride away. They were stoic warfaces. And I remember how close to me they stood. For one surprising moment, I felt one ounce as an angel of righteousness and they were attached to me like awe-inspiring and fearsome wings unfurling that I'd never known were there. And so we were enormous. Outnumbered (barely). And victorious without even a harsh word issued.
Our next words were in jest, and it made no sense to even wonder then. The rest of the day was like any other, that dude moved away... so did David eventually and so did I... the story was never reminisced. I never found out why it was an almost stranger and my best friend were equally willing to face conflict with me. But there it was. And that gravelly pavement felt good under my feet.