As the bus pulled away from the curb, the gentle hum of its engine began to lull the plump woman into a near half-sleep state. Francine, or Mrs. Rodgers, as her fellow bus stop riders knew her, gazed with a blank stare into the greasy, creepy face of Angelo, who was sitting across the aisle from her. She wasn't seeing him because she was locked deep in some memory - a memory she wouldn't have chosen to remember, but her free will seemed to belong to someone else. it was her mother's will, and she heard her voice plain as day as if she were sitting right there on that seat next to Angelo.
"Fran - Cine!" her mother's voiced screamed in its shrill, high-pitched tone, accentuating the "c" in her name. "Fran - Cine, get down here this instant!"
Francine was thrust back in her childhood home on Baker Street - 241 Baker - Home Sweet Home. As this memory unfolded, she knew it was anything but sweet. Getting up and leaving her small, sparse bedroom, she proceeded to the top of the stairs. Her head hung down with her pudgy chin resting on her ample chest.
"Fran - Cine! You answer me, girl!" her mother called up the narrow stairwell. "Or I'll kick your butt into next Tuesday!"
"Y-y-yes, M-m-mother?" Francine asked, remaining at the top of the stairs.
"What is this?" her mother demanded, holding her thin arm outstretched toward Francine. A pretty, red and empty heart-shaped box of chocolates sat in the palm of her scrawny hand. "Stop that stuttering, and get your ass down here! I want an explanation, and I want it now!"
As Francine's head drooped further down, she did, indeed, resemble an English Bulldog with her three folds of fat obscuring any hint of a chin or neck. Her eyes, which were blue and very large, had a pronounced bulge to them, making them appear to be popping out of her round face.
Francine plodded down the stairs as if she were approaching a guillotine, rather than her mother. Though her mother was a good three inches shorter than thirteen-year-old Francine, and she outweighed her mother by almost one-hundred pounds, the girl was terrified of her.
"Did you, or did you not, eat my chocolates that Mr. Snipe gave to me yesterday?" her mother asked.
"I-I didn't m-m-mean t-t-to eat them all!" The frightened girl burst out sobbing. "I-I-I'm s-s-sorry!"
"To pay for your wickedness, you'll spend the rest of the week in your room, after school when your chores are done, and you will wash every window in this house on Saturday. That will teach you to keep your fat fingers out of things that don't belong to you, Missy. Just look at you! Why, you're like one of Mr.Grishom's over-stuffed pigs with your big-old-gut hanging out the front of your dress. Haven't you any self-respect! Do you understand me? You're nothing but a glutinous sinner!" Stepping in close to Francine, she back-handed the girl across her mouth. Francine's head careened to the left, then to the right as her mother applied another stinging smack.
Mrs. Rodgers gasped. Her eyes flew open, and her hand flew up to her lips to feel the blood she knew would be trickling down her face, but her mouth was dry, and, she found herself staring into the sinister eyes of Angelo, who looked as though he were about to jump out of his own skin. She snapped her head to face forward, and then, she saw an even more frightening scene. Recognition filtered into her muddled brain. She was not back on Baker Street. Her mother was not here - she'd been dead, in fact, for close to ten years. She wasn't scared, Fidgeting Francine, but Mrs. Rodgers, and she was riding on a bus, a bus that, she now realized, was being hijacked! "Oh, m-m-my God," she whispered to herself. She began to fidget with the strap of her imitation Gucci hand bag, rubbing the worn leather from one brass loop to the other, her large eyes seeming to bulge even further out.
"Remain calm," the foreign man at the front of the bus proclaimed. A hint of a smile formed at the corners of his mouth, but his eyes said, Try and cross me, and you're dead.
Now, the two large diet cokes she had guzzled with her Jimmy Dean pork sausage, three scrambled eggs and four slices of toast, down at the corner greasy-spoon truck-stop, began to weigh on her stomach. She felt woozy. Opening her purse, she took out her amber-colored bottle of Prozac, and popped not the prescribed one pill, but two, into her mouth. "This is all your fault, m ... mother," she hissed under her breath. All of it: being fat, people's stares and snickering - even that foreigner. Yes, it was all her fault! Francine began to chant in her head, Her fault! Her fault! Then aloud, "Her fault! HER FAULT!" she said, ignoring the other passengers' gawking glances.
Mrs Rodgers, lost in her own version of reality, failed to hear the cries of her fellow bus riders as the petite Danielle stood up in the middle of the bus, rocked on her feet and then crumpled to the dirty floor, striking her head on the metal frame of the closest seat.
"Bus Stop-Chapter 4 "