Single A, Double A, Triple A

So. The girls in the colorguard that year were famous for their loose and easy ways, and took over the back of the bus as their rightful area, and defended it fiercely. Strictly by invitation, and then only after three members had vetted the applicant thoroughly. The band was more or less evenly split, between those who panted after admission and those who were terrified of the whole scene and kept a careful distance. Those who sat up front and slumped in their seats, eyes half-closed in sleep or listening to headphones as the freeway lights slid past, swapped tales as the ride grew longer, embroidered elaborate narratives around the breathy laughter and wicked banter that floated indolently forward.

“Justine gave the french horn a hand job,” one of the clarinets said, morosely. “Coming back from Stanwood.”

“The hell,” said a trumpet. “When? Moody keeps a sharp eye out back there at night.”

“They had a blanket spread over their laps during one of the meal stops and everyone else was standing guard around them, pretending they were changing.”

“I heard it was a dare,” said the first flute.

They shook their heads like old wise men. One of the trombones sitting back there said something, his voice a low rumble, and all the colorguard burst into laughter, like plastic sabers rattling, like flags against palms.