the bag of magic beans out of his pocket and looked carefully at them. He had carried them with him for many months, and they had taken quite a beating. He had finally delivered them to Kelby as Sister Kim had asked him to, but Kelby didn’t want them. Jack didn’t know what else to do with the beans, so he tossed them into his duffle bag and left them behind for the first time in months.
Back in the kitchen, Kelby set out a quick snack for the two of them and then glanced up at the clock and said, “Uh-oh, its almost four o’clock. I’m supposed to meet someone at four and look at buying
an old school bus. We can finish the snack in the car.”
They hopped into Kelby’s car and were soon across town speaking with a man who had an old run-down school bus parked in a large shed behind his garage. At first, Jack couldn’t see how such a long vehicle could fit in such a short shed, but as they walked inside and their eyes adjusted to the dim light, Jack could see that it was a short school bus, not quite half as long as a typical full-length school bus.
Kelby and the man haggled over prices for a while until they reached an agreement and shook hands. Then Kelby made arrangements to pick up the bus the next day and take care of all the necessary paperwork.
In high spirits, Kelby didn’t head straight for home but took Jack out for
pizza and beer in downtown Fort Collins. Over supper, he explained the plans to paint the bus and then use it to take a bunch of friends out to Ragbrai in style. Kelby mentioned a lot names and Jack recognized
Mahk, Nick, Vong, Maria, Martin, and Vegas among them.
Kelby told Jack that he was welcome to join them, but Jack wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to head back to the state where all his troubles had begun. However, Kelby was persistent, explaining that Sister Kim wanted Jack to return. Jack decided to trust
The next weeks were busy ones as Kelby and Jack worked hard to prepare the bus for painting and travel. They had the engine overhauled, and the bus ran more smoothly after that, with clouds of blue smoke that weren’t quite as thick as before. The most difficult part of preparing the bus was installing a custom bike rack on the roof, but Kelby had a friend who could weld and was willing to put in the time to set it up.
The night before the trip, Kelby’s dad,
Larry, arrived and was so excited about the bus that he kept climbing all over it like a little kid until Kelby tossed him the keys and a credit card and suggested that he take the bus and fill it up.
When Larry returned, they loaded their bikes, bags, and tents on board along with food, coolers, and a lot of beer from local breweries. Kelby made numerous phone calls to double-check on pick up times for everyone they would be taking with them to Ragbrai. Much later than they had hoped, Kelby and Jack finished their preparation and were able to catch a few hours of sleep before getting an early start Saturday morning.
The Short Bus adventure was about to begin.
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]