On a normal night he would be climbing into bed at that time or even be several hours into a decent night’s sleep. It was Wednesday night, or rather early Thursday morning, the third of July, and he was on his way to spend the holiday with his girlfriend Stacy. To be more precise with her family—a family he had yet to meet. The prospect had him a little nervous.

But the thought of Stacy brought a smile to his face in the dimly lit bus. Continued thoughts of her brought other reactions to his body. It had been over a month since he’d seen her and enjoyed the comfort of her soft, willing body. He was more than ready to become reacquainted with it, though he wondered just how much opportunity they would have to be together at her family’s cottage on the lake. As she had described it over the phone and in conversations while they were in school, it seemed a modest affair, small kitchen, small living room and an even smaller bedroom with nearly wall-to-wall beds, even though there were only two. He certainly couldn’t imagine getting her alone in the bedroom with all of the members of the family she said were coming out to the lake for the Fourth.

The bus vibrated violently as the engine started and with a loud hiss of brakes being released, it pulled away from the small depot and bounced across the curb that it had run upon when it arrived. The motion made the passengers within sway in unison like seaweed in a current. Within a few minutes the driver navigated the narrow side streets, then pulled out onto the nearly empty highway.

Harold pulled off his sweater that his mother had insisted he wear, saying that the bus would be air-conditioned, and rolled it into a ball, hoping it would be comfortable enough to substitute as a pillow. He pressed it into the crease between the seat back and the sidewall along the window frame and tried to position the side of his face into it.

He no more than found a position that allowed him to slip into a fuzzy level of sleep than the bus slowed enough to pitch him forward slightly and the sweater dropped, causing his head to bang against the window frame.

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