Hand Momma her Gun
college, one of my favorite leisure activities was to ride my bike
down the old brick path to the library and hole up for a few hours
with The Journal of Abnormal Psychology. The Journal,
if you're unfamiliar, is a monthly collection of actual scientific
studies with titles like "The Grass is Always Greener: Hermaphrodites
living in Rural Settings," or "Double Trouble: Bi-polar
Disorder in Conjoined Twins." Though titillating, most of these
articles are written by men with PhD's or women with hyphenated
last names, so they could be placed under the category "intelligent."
I'm not prone to hyperbole but I will venture to say that The Journal
of Abnormal Psychology is, and continues to be, the single most
brilliant piece of printed matter ever to come from the mind of
day I came across a well footnoted story of a female bus driver
in Spain who, late at night, would pick up drunk men, pull the bus
over, kill them, remove their ears and sew them to the bottoms of
the bus seats. True, it's sick, but you have to appreciate the quirky
touches. Did she use a needle and thread, or was a Bedazzler involved?
Ears sewn to seats, was there a pun involved that I wasn't getting?
A lesser murderer would have just shot their victims in the head
and left them for dead, but it takes vision to make it into the
Journal of Abnormal Psychology and this particular bus driver
had it in spades.
reminded me of Chastity Blevins.
a school-aged child in rural Virginia, the school bus is an important
and vital part of any youngster's existence. Thaddeus B. Page Middle
School was exactly 22.7 miles from my home, a thirty to forty minute
drive that was much longer for some other kids. The bus driver that
was assigned your route became, by default, an important figure
in your life, usually spending more time with us each day than our
she was an adult, our driver insisted we called her Chastity, a
prospect both thrilling and terrifying. "We all shit sittin'
down, and I ain't no different," she'd say, inhaling half of
an Eve Slim 100. Yes. She smoked while driving a school bus packed
with children, but before you get alarmed, she was sure to roll
down a window, unless it was cold. Part den mother, part dominatrix,
Chastity ruled the bus like a manic babysitter, dishing out equal
parts love and abuse. If you were good, you got to sit up front,
right behind Chastity, and were put in charge of her cigarettes
and lighter. It was an esteemed position and, when given the opportunity,
we held it with reverence. If you were bad, you were subject to
verbal abuse, spankings, or you may not have been picked up at all.
"bad" for a group of school children was much different
than "bad" for Chastity Blevins. Rumor had it that she
had been a stripper at the Pole Cat, but was fired for beating a
customer to death. Though it's not the natural progression of things
to go from sex-industry murderess to, say, school bus driver, this
was Virginia and it seemed like a probable career trajectory.
a good day, it was all smiles and smooth riding.
"Can't beat this, Can ya' kids?" she'd say, caressing
her new blue-black spiky hairdo.
better than Friday night, a new hairdo, and some Boone's Strawberry
Hill." She slid the brown paper bag that covered the bottle
under her seat and lit another cigarette. For Chastity, the bus
was not just a job where she picked up and dropped off kids, but
also a job that allowed her to take care of errands, like going
to the liquor store or getting her nails done.
just be a minute. Sit tight and don't touch nothin'" was one
of her favorite sayings, usually returning with a discount carton
of cigarettes or some unidentified animal squirming inside a burlap
though there were many "field trips," as she'd call them,
we always got to school on time, mainly, because of what Chastity
Blevins did to the governor.
governor. Bane of my mother-effin existence."
governor, if you're unfamiliar with school bus automotive technology,
is a device that controls the speed of the vehicle, making it impossible
to go over 55 miles per hour. The day Chastity had it removed was
the best day of her life.
man is goddamn genius," she proclaimed to a third grade girl
with pigtails seated behind her.
less than an hour, he rigged this bitch so I can push it up to 80
if I want," she yelled as she peeled the bus out on the highway.
"80! Goddamn it. Do you know how fuckin' fast that is?"
third grader lowered her head into her Trapper Keeper as she clung
to the side of her seat, holding on for dear life.
the added extra fifteen minutes that going 80 MPH allowed, Chastity
was a free woman. She picked up groceries, went to the Payless,
and even stopped to chat with friends. Though we usually got the
first day of hunting season off, the following weeks, men in blaze
orange and camouflage could be seen all over the county, walking
along the side of the road, carrying their rifles after a day of
hunting. A shit-kickin', snuff chewin' George Bailey of sorts, Chastity
was quick to offer a hand, French-tips and all.
she'd say to a buck-toothed man, caressing his gun. "I will
not let you walk all the goddamn way to the Little Sioux. Get your
goddamn ass up in this bus." She opened the door, and Carl
hopped up and took a seat. The bus now contained 22 school children,
two cartons of cigarettes, a bottle of Irish Cream, a rifle and
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