short story – Part 2

If you haven’t already done so, read the first part of the story.
Come back Friday for the conclusion.  

“Don’t point, Ashton. It’s not polite. He’s busking,” I replied. A clown, complete with a curly red wig, white painted face, and a round plastic nose was sitting in a folding chair blowing bubbles. His ample belly filled out his clown suit. The handwritten sign propped up by his knee read, “Another Clown on Welfare.” An old hat sat as his feet for anyone so inclined to toss in a coin.
“No, he’s not bussing. He’s blowing bubbles. Can we go over there and see him?” he asked. “Conner wants to pop some bubbles.”
“No. The bus’ll be here any minute,” I said, skipping the explanation of busking for now.
“It won’t take long,” he said. “C’mon, please?”
“Look, there’s the bus over there, on the other side of the stoplight. It’s coming our way, see?”
We let everyone else file on the bus first and then clamored aboard. Ashton climbed up gripping the railing, and I was right behind him with Conner in the football hold in one arm, our collapsed stroller, book bag and bus fare in the other hand. The bus was getting full, but a smiling, middle-aged man stood up and moved so we could cram ourselves and our belongings into two adjacent seats.
“Hi, cutie,” said a perky, high-pitched voice behind us just as we were settling into the cramped space with all our things. The voice was speaking to my younger son, who decided the best way to respond was to bury his face in my chest. I turned around as she started to strike up a conversation with Ashton, who was staring at her. “Is that your little brother?” she asked.
Ashton and I both just stared. The high-pitched voice belonged to a woman who had her rather short, kinky hair pulled into pigtails. She was wearing horned rimmed glasses, a pink t-shirt that said Book Girl, a pink cape, and striped leggings. She had tied her canvas sneakers with glittery pink laces. My eyes settled on her face once I had finally taken in all the details of her ridiculous costu
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