Mary, lets go! Shelley screamed from the car. I looked out my bedroom window and I could see her waiting impatiently in the drivers seat.
Coming! I yelled back. I snatched my canvas handbag off my bed and ran down the stairs. My mom gave me a disaproving look from her post in the kitchen. She hated to see me rushing in the mornings, and now was one of those times. I didnt have time to brawl with her though, so I ran out the door. Shelley shot me a wicked look as I stepped into her red MGB-GT; she hated to wait for me in the mornings, and she did it often.
Mary, are you ever on time? She asked as we pulled out of my driveway. She turned the radio on, and we heard the closing riffs to Im a Believer. Suddenly we heard the opening riffs to our favorite Byrds song; So You to be a Rock n Roll Star. We laughed and sang all the way to school.
Of course, we were late for school. I tried to sneak into homeroom, but my kooky three-thousand year old teacher caught me and sent me down to the office. I walked down to the office grumbling to myself. I would most likely end up with detention, and it was Friday. Now I would have to go out later then usual, and still be home for ten o clock. I hated the state curfew, it was ridiculous. How was anyone supposed to have a good time when they were being timed? Who gave the government the right to tell us when to come in? Now I had even less time. What a stone drag!
When I got to the office, the secretary the note me teacher had written. The secretary told me to wait in the lobby until the principal was ready to see me. I sat in one of the broken old chairs, and waited impatiently. Then I heard someone calling my name.
Mary, whispered a deep voice hey Mary. I turned around and was face to face with Dylan Sanders, the biggest head in school. He was in my English class, but I had never really spoken to him before.
Hi Dylan. I said, giving him the most gear smile I could manage. He was pretty fab looking after all.
You got in trouble? He asked, surprised.
Yeah, I replied sheepishly I was late today. How about you? He had a reputation for always getting in trouble because he was always saying what was on his mind.
I was late too. He said, just as sheepishly as I had spoken. This is so like society, always punishing people for taking their time.
Yeah, I know. I said, he was right of course.
Hey, youre a groovey* kid, right? He asked me. I had no idea how I was supposed to answer that.
Uh, I guess... I answered, hoping it sounded okay.
Listen, theres a demonstration tonight. Do you want tocome? I was totally flipping, but I tried to keep my cool. I had been to few demonstrations, but none of them wereattended by Dylan. He didnt waste his time at our little protests, he was with the big leagues.
Whats it for? I asked cautiously. You could never be to careful, and you didnt want to end up at a riot.
The curfew. he said I think its time we do something about it. He looked right into my eyes then, and there was no way I could refuse.
Sure, Ill go. Where is it?
On Sunset, on the corner between Ben Franks and Pandoras Box. You can meet us at Ben Franks around nine thirty. Will you have any trouble getting there?
Would it be okay if I brought my friend Shelley along? She could bring me...
Sure, thats fine. He answered back. Ill see you then.He said, as he walked into the office. I couldnt wait to tell Shelley about it. This was so whippy!
It was quarter past nine, and Shelley and I were gettingready at my house. She had been as excited as I was, and wewere having a great time picking out our threads and gearingup. Finally, I had decided on a flowered button down shirtand a pair of tan corderouys. Shelley had leaned towards amatching green bell-bottom pants and shirt set. We were finally ready to leave.
When we got to Ben Franks, I looked for Dylan. Ispotted him talking to a group of kids from my school. Whenhe saw me, he smiled and cam over.
Hi Mary, glad you could come. He said politely. How could anyone think he was rude?
Hi. I said back. This is my friend Shelley. I said, gesturing towards Shelley. He nodded, and said hello.
Listen, I gotta get some things ready. Ill see you in a little while. He said, and then he walked off.
We stood around for a little while, and then everyonestarted to leave. Shelley and I followed them.
We can get in a lot of trouble for this. Shelley said witha giggle as we stepped into the cool night air.
I know. I said with a laugh. We had been taken to thepolice station more than once, but had never gotten in anyserious trouble. We followed the crowd to the bus stop in front of Pandoras Box. Everyone stopped there, and Dylan stood on top of a nearby bench.
Look what time it is everyone, he started. I looked down at my watch; it was a little after ten o clock. According to California state law, we should all be home right now.
Everyone replied with loud boos, and Dylan continued. Are we gonna let the government tell us what time to be home? We all screamed loud No!s in response. We have to show them that were serious, he said we have to do something to prove it. As he said these words, he was fiddling around with a large canvas sack. He pulled out a can of lighter fluid, and a box of matches. My heart stopped beating. If they want to destroy us, then we can destroy them.
No! I screamed. I couldnt believe this was happening. He looked in my direction and laughed. It was too late to stop him now. He had already poured the lighter fluid on top of a waiting bus.
He lit a match, and yelled the words I would never forget: If theyre trying to make this town a hell for us, why dont we help them out a little? And with those words, he threw the match onto the bus. In seconds, it was up in flames. I was in shock, I didnt know what to do. Shelley saw that theyre were children on the bus, and tried to save them.
No Shelley! I cried, but it was too late. She was already on the burning bus, and I knew she wouldnt come off of it alive. People were screaming everywhere, and Dylan was still standing on top of the bench. All of the sudden, the bus tipped over and exploded. The explosion was so powerful, that I was knocked back into the brick wall of Pandoras Box. I got away just in time to see the flames submerge themselves around the building. I could hear people screaming from the inside, people who would never scream again.
The wailing sirens of police, ambulances, and fire truckswere heard all around, and I was taken into an ambulance immediately. I was lucky, I was only burned on my hands and a little on my face. Shelley wasnt so lucky. They found her body on the bus, clutching the body of a small child. Both had burned to death.
Dylan was killed in the explosion along with sixty-sevenothers. I was one of the twenty- three rioters to survive. No one that was inside Pandoras Box survived the explosion, though some people had come outside when the fire first started. Everyone on the bus died as well.
Shelley and I thought we could get in a lot of trouble, wesure were right. I was charged with manslaughter, as werethe rest of the rioters. I was found not guilty, but I still haveto live with the fact that I was a part of this awful event.
Darkened rolling figures move
Through prisms of no color
Hand in hand they walk the night
But never know each other
Startled eyes that sometimes see
Pirouette down palsied paths
With pennies for the vendor
Sahara signs look down upon
a world that glitters glibly.
And mountain sides put arms around
The unsuspecting cities
Second hands that minds have slowed
Are moving even faster
Toward bringing down someone who's found
The question but no answer
~ "Daily Nightly"
by Michael Nesmith