Somebody Following Him
The children began lining up and stepping off the school bus. While they got off the school bus and walked towards the school door, the bus driver waved them goodbye as he watched.
The small boy spun his head to the left and the right after the rest of his classmates had passed by the doorway. He carried on walking without realizing that somebody was following him.
The bus driver suddenly noticed something unusual. One of the students did not enter the school.
Instead, he stood in front of the door for several moments before heading to the nearby forest alone. He decided to follow him to find out what he was up to. He was about to uncover something that would leave him sick to his stomach.
46-year-old Jules Hyde was a resident of Kingman, Arizona. He'd been living there for the past seven years with his wife, Angela, despite the fact that he wasn't from there.
He was actually born and raised quite far from the town. But a horrible incident in his past drove him and his wife to pack up and move, leaving their entire lives behind.
Jules had spent most of his life in Philadelphia with his wife, Angela. However, few people knew the reason for such a dramatic change.
Jules worked as a bus driver for Kingman's MacArthur Elementary School. He was well-known and liked by the entire school staff and a few parents who knew him personally. Despite this, many people still considered him to be an enigma.
Small Town People
Jules was known for being a quiet, discreet person who avoided social gatherings and preferred to keep to himself.
Kingman wasn't a particularly large town; as is frequently the case in small towns, privacy was conspicuously absent. Nothing was kept a secret for too long because everyone knew one another except for Jules.
Many people came up with their own theories for why Jules and Angela chose to leave Philadelphia for Kingman and why they opted to keep their background to themselves.
Some said Jules had connections to Philadelphia's criminal underworld and had to flee the city due to a police investigation or was a subject of the FBI's witness protection program.
Police By Their House
Jules and his wife led pretty sheltered lives, as though they were wary of their environment. Still, that wasn't all.
One of the teachers used to jog past Jules' area, and on a couple of occasions, she saw police cars parked in front of his house. What was Jules' real story, though?
Some even went so far as to think that Angela, who presented as a quiet, modest, wallflower stay-at-home wife, was actually an exotic dancer who performed in one of Philadelphia's most renowned gentlemen's clubs.
Some of those who entertained that theory had different views on Jules' real identity and the nature of his link to Angela.
Give Up The Spotlight
Some people claimed that an organized crime family ran the club where Angela used to work; according to them, Jules, Angela's boyfriend, constantly tried to get her to give up her spot on the stage, and the couple had to leave Philadelphia because of it.
Others believed that Jules' contribution to the story was considerably less noteworthy than that.
Some speculated that Jules was really Angela's "manager" and that he had to leave Philadelphia to avoid being charged with human trafficking.
Few people genuinely thought those theories were true, and even fewer dared to speak about them aloud. Only Jules, Angela, and a small handful of carefully chosen people knew the truth about them.
A Tragic Event
The reason why Jules and his wife moved from Philadelphia to Kingman, Arizona, was a lot simpler, but also a lot more tragic, than anyone could have guessed.
The event that changed Jules’ life forever took place just a few months before he moved. His son Martin passed away as a result of a devastating accident. Since that moment, nothing was the same again.
Martin’s tragic decease was the result of an unfortunate chain of events. Unbeknownst to Jules or his wife, the kid was often picked on by other kids in his school.
All the school staff, including the teachers and the principal, turned a blind eye on it, thinking it would eventually stop. Until one time, one of the pranks they used to pull on him went too far.
Nothing Was The Same
Although sometimes they could tease Martin to the point of being cruel, none of the other kids intended to seriously harm him. However, one day things got out of hand.
The kid tripped and fell down the school’s stairs while trying to run from them. Nothing could be done about it. Jules and Angela’s world came crumbling down after that.
The accident showed him a side of humanity he wished he had never seen: it showed him how cruel and soulless children could sometimes be.
It also made him unable to stand his job as a bus driver for the same school Martin used to attend. The route, the school, the bus; everything reminded him of Martin and his callous peers.
He resented having to drive the kids who did that to his son to school every day. So he and his wife decided that a change of scenery was the best for their mental health.
That’s when they moved to Kingman. However, nothing could have ever prepared Jules for what he would find over there.
A New Start
In Kingman, Jules quickly found a job as a school bus driver again. It took him a while, but eventually, he got over his resentment for children. Soon, he started appreciating the kids he worked with again, and after some months, he was well-liked and admired by them.
But one day, all of a sudden, something happened that changed the way he viewed his life and his job irreversibly.
It Started Like A Normal Day
It seemed like that Wednesday would be like any other day: classes had started after a long, peaceful summer.
Some kids were more eager than others to return to school, but overall, the atmosphere on the school bus was peaceful and nice. Nothing could have warned Jules of what he would see later that day.
Jules waved the kids goodbye as they headed to the school building until the last of them came out of the bus. But suddenly, he noticed something.
One of the kids stayed in front of the door for a few minutes. It seemed like he was waiting for something or someone. Then, he headed to the forest nearby, unaware he was being observed.
What Was He Doing?
Jules observed him, puzzled. The kid couldn’t be any older than six years old. Why was he doing that? It could be dangerous for him to venture into the forest all by himself.
He decided to get out of the bus and follow him from a closer distance. As minutes passed, Jules felt more and more concerned. He could tell that there was something very wrong.
Where Was He Going?
The child kept walking and walking for around 30 minutes. He made his way through the most inhospitable paths, bushes, trees, and ravines.
Sometimes, he seemed to have a specific direction; sometimes, he seemed to be just wandering; and sometimes, he seemed to be reminiscing of a path he had taken before, but which he didn’t remember too well.
He Walked Up To Him
After a while, Jules decided to approach him. It wasn’t safe for a kid his age to be all alone in the middle of the forest. So he walked towards him and hollered.
The child turned around and jumped back, startled by Jules’ voice. Clearly, he didn’t expect anyone to follow them. Jules paid close attention to his face, trying to see if he recognized that kid. He gasped when he noticed what was going on.
The Kid’s Face
The kid’s expression was the saddest Jules had seen in years. He seemed devastated. But why? Was it because of the same reason that made him venture into the woods by himself?
“What’s going on, big guy? It’s dangerous to be here by yourself. Hush, don’t be scared. I’m Jules, the bus driver. Don’t you recognize me?” said Jules.
The kid didn’t say anything. He just stood still, like he was paralyzed, while he stared at Jules with his eyes wide open. The bus driver slowly walked towards him.
The kid seemed scared. Did he suspect Jules' true motives? But why would he do that? After a few seconds of silence, the kid talked back to him.
“Yes, I recognize you. Please, don’t tell anyone I’m here,” the kid said with tears coming to his eyes. “I’m just trying to make my dad proud.”
“Making your dad proud? What do you mean?” asked Jules, puzzled. The kid remained silent for a few seconds, like he was considering whether he should tell him or not. But after a while, he responded; and Jules couldn’t help but choke up.
The Kid’s Story
“He passed away a year ago, but I know he’s still watching me from heaven,” the kid said. “He used to be a scout, you know.”
“We used to go to the forest together to clean up and pick up trash people leave behind them,” the kid said. Jules was moved by the story. Clearly, the kid really missed his dad. “But there’s another problem.”
The Other Kids
“I just started coming to this school. In my other school, there was a scouting team, and I could go do that with other kids. But here, the other kids laugh at me.”
“They call me dirty and say my dad was dirty too. I hate this school, and I’ve been skipping class,” the kid said, sobbing.
Jules was heartbroken when he heard this. He thought of his own child and what he had gone through. Instantly, he felt his blood boiling in his veins as he thought of the other kids’ cruelty.
“Come here, buddy. We’ll fix that, I promise,” he said, taking the kid’s hand and walking back to school with him by his side.
Jules went straight to the principal’s office and told her everything that had happened. The kid told her about his deceased father, how much he liked cleaning up trash in the forest, and how the other kids laughed at him.
The principal patiently listened to the kid’s story. Then, she asked him something that would make things take a turn.
She asked him the names of the kids that picked on him. The kid told her. As it turned out, they were just five kids; they were well-known troublemakers in the school and had been disciplined more than once.
However, there was something about them that explained why they never corrected their behavior. It was something the principal knew very well.
She Knew Them
Those kids’ parents were rich and very influential in the community. Besides, they had been very generous with their donations to the school. Clearly, they had spoiled their kids and let them believe they could get away with everything.
Until that point, those kids had just committed some misdemeanors, which the principal had let slide. But this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She promised to take measures right away.
A Happy Ending
The principal gave the kid her word of honor that those kids would be permanently expelled from school that same day, no matter how upset their parents became about it or how influential they were. It was time for them to learn a lesson.
She also said that she would set up a scouting program in school. Jules promised to help her with anything he could and swore to himself to take care of the kid and make sure his time in school was happy from then on.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.