Since I tend to write more short fiction than any other format, it should be no surprise I read much of the same. Often those stories are in anthologies, but sometimes they are standalone works, as is the case with this one.
Mr. McAllister is a bus driver, and like most in his profession, he’s seen his share of bullies on their bus routes. On this particular route, the name of the bully is Jessie Kinsmen. Big for his age, meaner than the day is long, and protected by his daddy the mayor.
While Jessie targets anyone he perceives as a victim, his ire is focused on Dennie Strathcomb. Small for his age, with lack of self-esteem and an over-protective mother, Dennie is just waiting to be picked on. But it’s when he stands up to Jessie, who’s picking on the elderly bus chaperone, that Dennie puts a target on his back. Or should I say his face.
When Dennie doesn’t catch the bus the next day, Mr. McAllister is certain Jessie is behind it and hunts down Dennie and his mother at the hospital, finding the boy has been beaten severely. Even though the mother doesn’t tell Mr. McAllister what happened, the driver is certain the bully is behind it.
So, Mr. McAllister works up a detailed plan for revenge against Jessie. Will it go as planned? Will it be foiled by chance? Will the driver lose his nerve?
I really enjoyed this story. You could get a feel for all the characters, and the pacing of the story was just right, for the most part. It felt like it dragged a bit at the beginning, but Ralston was also building up the history of the characters. So it was a slow burn, but that can be fine if done well.
As of this writing, this book is available on Amazon Kindle for free, but even if it’s not when you look to pick it up, it will still be worth it. Since this was my first foray into Ralston’s writing, it also prompted me to pick up “Woom”, one of his novels. I’m looking forward to reading it too.
Rating: Four Stars (Out of Five Possible)