The Asian Children

I’m used to them now, the little rascals, thought Albert. Much can change in a week! Last Tuesday he’d been doing his school run, same as ever, and there they stood, twenty-four Asian children, by the side of the road. He didn’t know for sure that they were Asian, but that was his and everybody else’s best guess. Even the ethno-linguists and social workers were not certain. “Indo-Tibetan” was their best notion.

Who they were, and how they’d got there, were burning questions. The story however had been kept out of mainstream media, The Authority believing it would inflame the immigration debate. It remained a local, word-of-mouth story.

Albert had stopped for them immediately but then been stumped. Should he pick them up now, or leave them here and seek guidance in town? He was out of cell range so couldn’t call the bus company or cops. Albert made three decisions that day.

First, he decided to pick them all up and take them into town.

Second, he drove right past his usual pick-ups, making some of them cry. Their parents had rung the school to complain. Under the circumstances he felt his actions were warranted. He needed to get these lost kids to a safe place. His usual charges had a safe place already, and it was best they stayed there for now.

His third decision was to take the kids straight to school rather than to the cops. It felt more appropriate. Teachers would know how to handle troubled children; cops would likely frighten them. He’d spent too much time with cops in his life, and never enough time with teachers. His life had been so fucked up from the beginning: his violent family, his mixed-up head, his abused body, everything. It was amazing he was still living and breathing, here and now in Lucerne. Okay he was single and had few friends, but so what?

It was decided to house the Asian children at a local Bed & Breakfast, but many of them began to scream, till they were taken out again. They didn’t like town at all. They preferred rural areas or wilderness. They also hated being separated. Efforts to divide them led to more screaming.

The village council held an emergency meeting, and decided to accommodate them in the old school house in the Upper Valley, twenty kilometres out of town.

The Asian children didn’t mind coming into town for school though. They liked seeing the other children, though they were not yet ready to engage with them. Albert having found them on the Lucerne Valley Road, was asked to drive the Asian children back and forth. They liked to sit together at the back of the bus.

They were silent for the first few days, but then one said hello to Albert while he was driving. Albert said hello back, immediately after which the bus was filled with sniggering. He turned his head and saw that there was no one standing in the aisle or sitting in the front rows of seats. Who had said hello?

“Please keep your eyes on the road, Mr. Driver. You’ve got our twenty-four precious lives in your hands.” There were many more sniggers. “We are telepaths. It is a very useful ability in the mountains where we lived. We didn’t need to cup our hands and shout while climbing.”

“How did you get here?” Albert asked aloud.

“It’s hard for us to explain that. Why don’t you tell us how you got here?”

Albert realized that this is a very hard thing to do.


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