The kids formed a line to exit the school bus, and he waved them goodbye. He watched fondly as they left the bus and started walking towards the school entrance.
But he couldn’t help noticing something strange. He saw one of the kids hanging about the front of the school, but he made no move to go inside. All of a sudden, he started walking all alone to the nearby forest. He decided to follow the boy but had no idea what he was getting into.
Living In Mesa
46-year-old Jules Hyde lived with his wife, Angela, in Mesa, Arizona. He had been born and raised somewhere far away, but they had been living in Mesa for the last seven years.
He had spent the majority of his life in Philadelphia, but not many people knew why he had made the big move to a different city.
A Private Man
Jules worked as a bus driver for Mesa’s MacArthur Elementary School. The staff all knew and liked him a lot. Some of the parents knew him personally, too.
Although he was a well-liked man, he was known for being private and discreet. He preferred keeping to himself and hardly took part in social events. There was much speculation about what the actual story was behind him.
Him And The Police
There were rumors that Jules had been involved in Philadelphia’s criminal underworld. They speculated that he had to escape after a police investigation or was under the FBI’s witness protection program.
Jules and his wife lived a life where they seemed too scared to run into anyone. But there was more. Some teachers had seen police cars parked outside of his house when they had gone jogging. What was going on?
Jules and his wife had moved from Philadelphia to Mesa, Arizona, for more straightforward reasons. No one could have guessed what they were.
Jules had experienced a life-changing event just a few months before they moved. There had been a devastating accident that had taken his son Martin away from him. Nothing had been the same for the man ever since.
There had been a chain of events that led up to Martin’s passing away. The child had been picked on by the other kids in his school more often than he’d liked, and his parents were unaware of what was happening.
They used pranks to get at him, but, one day, they went too far. They hadn’t intended to hurt him too seriously, but they had lost control of the situation before Martin was sent tripping down the stairs because he had been running away. This had sent Jules’ world crumbling.
Another Side To Kids
Jules never thought children could be so cruel, and he wished that he would never see that side of them again. He had been a bus driver for the same school Martin had attended, and he couldn’t stand it anymore if his son weren’t there.
He thought of it as driving the kids who had done that to his son around, and he felt a build-up of resentment. His mental health was at stake, so he and his wife decided that a change would be for the best. They had moved to Mesa, unaware of what awaited them around the corner.
A New Beginning
It wasn’t long before Jules found another bus driving job in Mesa. When starting his new position, he held onto his resentment for children, but it eventually faded. He eventually developed an appreciation for them, and they admired him after a few months.
But something would happen that would change the way he saw his life and his job forever.
Back To School
The Wednesday had started like any other. Summer had just ended, and classes were starting. Not everyone looked forward to going back to school, but there was a good deal who were, which made the atmosphere on the bus a nice and peaceful one.
As the children exited the bus and headed to the school building, Jules waved them all goodbye. Everyone had left the bus, but Jules noticed something odd. Instead of entering the school building, one of the kids stood at the front of the school and started walking to the nearby forest. But he didn’t know he was being watched.
Keeping An Eye On Him
Jules was puzzled as he watched the boy. He guessed the boy was no older than six years old and worried about him venturing into the forest alone. Why was he going there?
He left the bus and followed the child to keep a better eye on him. Jules’ concern for the boy grew the farther they walked because he could tell something was 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.
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. When he saw his face, Jules couldn’t contain a gasp.
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. 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.
“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. He used to go to the forest together to clean up and pick up trash people leave behind them,” the kid said. “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.”
Jules was heartbroken when he heard this. He thought of his own child and what he had gone through. “Come here, buddy. We’ll fix that, I promise,” he said, taking the kid’s hand and walking back to school.
Jules went straight to the principal’s office and told her everything that had happened. Immediately, the kid told her the names of the kids that picked on him, and the principal promised to take measures right away.
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.