"Things haven't been the same since...it happened." I cringed, feeling stupid saying those words.
"Just tell me about. Slowly. I'm here to help you." Doctor Something said soothingly. His voice made me relax. The voice reminded me of Grandpa.
"We were on the bus. We always took the bus home. Number Seven. It was a different driver this time, but neither of us thought about that much." I paused and smiled, remembering the way Gerald had laughed at the new guy's red hair. I had laughed with him.
"It was raining. I remember that so clearly. It was as if the sky knew what was going to happen. As if it knew everything." I shivered and hugged the jacket around me, suddenly cold. "We sat in the back of the bus and played cards. We've been doing that for...God, I don't know how long. It's a long bus ride, you know. We're the last stop."
I shook my head, trying to get the facts straight. "There were only six other people on the bus when it happened. The guy took out a gun, told us to get on the ground. We did what he said, nobody wants to mess around with a guy with a gun. He took somebody who was up front-that was Little Jessie, I found out later-and told us that if we moved, she would die."
I swallowed hard, blinking the tears out of my eyes. I could feel Doctor Whoever's gaze on him. I didn't care. "Gerald got a look in his eye. He wasn't the kind to sit around, Gerald." Arnold smiled, remembering his thick-headed best friend. "He looked out the window and saw a police car on the other side of the street, just parked there. You'd think we were in a movie or something. I remember thinking 'Oh God, he's going to do something stupid.' And praying that he wouldn't."
I had stopped crying now. I had related this story so many times-to the police, to Grandma and Grandpa, to Gerald's parents, Helga, Pheobe-one more time didn't mean anything. "He looked at me with these big round eyes and mouthed 'I've got to do this.' I nodded. He stood up and hurled himself out of that stupid window on the other side of the bus. I screamed as he hit the ground. Nobody heard me above the glass shattering and Gerald's own scream."
I swallowed hard. This was the worst part. "It worked. The cop got up. He had called for backup already. He got the man under control, and Little Jessie hadn't been hurt. I bolted out of the bus-" tears were back now. "And saw him. You know, his skin was the exact same color as the pavement." Arnold choked out a laugh. "I will never forget the way he looked. Just laying there, blood flowing from his head. His hair had turned a rusty red color and his eyes were open."
Dr. Somebody nodded, as if he actually understood. "And what do you want to say to Gerald?"
I swallowed hard, then whispered. "I'm sorry."
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