Felix stared at a tree before the next kid invasion. The tree must’ve been planted when they first built the community center, past being a sapling and now growing branches. Pick up kids from school and bring them back to the community center five days a week. Easier than being a home aide and emptying bedpans. Better than delivering pizza to unmarked storefronts. Driving was regular. Pick up bus. Pick up kids. He had a Class C driver’s license. Nothing to it.
They pulled his beard and called him Santa’s Mess. Stepped on his boots and yanked his leather laces. One kid even tried to tie them together. Felix escorted him to a seat nearest the door. Make sure you get out of here first before I get angry. The girls were worse. He could see them in the rear view mirror point to the back of his neck where there was a tiny hand. It slipped outside his collar wriggling its fingers, outside the black turtlenecks he wore in every weather as a kind of concealment. They called him the Alien from Another Planet.
For a time, he used masking tape to straitjacket the hand, graduated from that to electrician’s tape hoping to immobilize its squirms. But it always wanted to be a part of the action, part of the conversation like his other two regular hands. The big boys, he called them, and the little girl. He had to sympathize. The little girl needed exercise. He couldn’t pretend she didn’t exist. How could he kill a part of himself? Felix felt the tape fall down the rabbit hole of his back that gave the kids even more reason to tease him. He lectured the hand at night. Please can’t you stay still just while the kids are in the bus? I need this job. The hand didn’t cooperate.
The kids became bolder. They threw things. It wasn’t safe, plus the janitorial staff started to complain since it took longer to clean his bus. Felix was afraid he’d lose his job. He knew he had to do something, which is when he faced the kids in the parked bus. His head almost touched the ceiling. His hands hung past the seat cushions. I’m gonna show you something you’ve never seen before. He turned around. It became quiet. The kids put down their backpacks and cellphones. They held their juice boxes unsteady in their laps.
Felix rolled down his collar. The little hand stretched out. Reached further up his neck and scratched the top of his head. Then it put a finger inside one of his ears and drilled around for a quick moment; then did the other. The hand took a bow and fanned its fingers, inviting applause. The kids laughed. They fought amongst themselves to be the first one to shake Felix’s extra hand.