“You gonna eat that, Mr. Rosen ?” Thomas Foley asked as he stuck his finger in Buddy's fat peanut butter and jelly sandwich he fixed that morning.
Buddy looked at Thomas and pushed the sandwich with the hole in the middle over to him. “I'm not too hungry. Here, you eat it."
From behind a familiar voice whispered, “Hey big boy, you wanna trade your banana for my pudding."
He looked up at Andi and said, “Nobody messes with my banana, sister. But I will make a deal with you for my Milk Duds."
“No thanks.” Andi put her lunch down beside his and slipped next to him on the bench. “It's your banana or nothing. "
“You know how guys feel about their bananas."
“Some day I'll tell you how girls feel about boys' bananas.” Andi opened her lunch and took out her sandwich. She leaned over to look at Buddy's bag. “What else you got ?"
“Let's see." Buddy opened his bag and pulled out a bag of Fritos and a Snickers candy bar. “Healthy stuff like this."
“The R. Treader ?” Buddy called it that because the name was stenciled on the side. “I bought it at the Salvation Army for 25 cents. I love this old thing. I think it's from the 1940s. The main reason I got it was because I wanted to meet R. Treader."
“Why? I don't know. Because I wanted to meet the guy who gave away a part of his childhood, I guess. Why did he give his school bag to the Salvation Army? It's like the home movies I find at flea markets and garage sales. I'm always amazed that people would let them go. It's like a part of your body. You might as well sell your arm."
“So you rescued it for Mr. Treader."
“Exactly,” Buddy puffed out his chest.
“Did you ever find him ?"
“Yep. I looked him up in the phone book. He was living in Clearwater."
“And I called him up to tell him I just bought his school bag. I asked if he remembered it."
“Did he ?"
“He sure did. In fact he had lost track of it. It seems his wife got rid of it in a box of old stuff she dumped off.” Buddy stopped to take a bite of his banana. “I offered to give it back but he said no. He wanted me to keep it. He said that he was just happy to hear it was being used. And especially by someone concerned about protecting his memories."
“That's sweet. "
“Mmm hmm,” Buddy looked up. “Uh oh, don't look now .... unhappy homemaker at twelve o'clock." He was referring to the fast approaching Becky Sue Wright, third grade teacher and teller of marital affairs. Her little feet made a clicking sound on the linoleum floor of the cafeteria like a toy machine gun.
She made it to their table in a fraction of a second. “Andi. I'm so glad I saw you." Becky Sue gushed as she put her face right between Buddy's and Andi's.
“Too late.” Buddy said.
“What, Buddy?” Becky Sue asked.
“Nothing. I was just finishing a thought."
“Oh. Well anyway, Andi, you're not gonna believe what I just heard."
“Oh yeah?” Andi answered.
“I was right. George Parker is involved with Sarah Bess. And Sarah Bess... the tramp... is going through divorce number three as we speak. And that's not all. George has been going for counseling with Bunny. Can you imagine? She doesn't have a clue that he is cheating on her.” She gestured to the far table where Sarah Bess was eating her lunch and reading a novel. “Look at her, as cool and calm as she can be while she just ruins poor Bunny's life."
“My, my,” said Buddy sarcastically as Andi kicked him under the table.
“Well now tell me, how are you lovebirds doing?"
“You mean you don't know?” Buddy leaned close to Becky Sue's ear.
“What?” Becky Sue strained to hear.
“Andi is three months pregnant with George Parker’s baby.” Andi almost spit up her food.
“Funny.” Becky Sue said and trotted off to whisper into someone else's ear.
“Great, Buddy, now she will probably spread that rumor next.” Andi said.
“It's about time. People need to know about your baby. I'm tired of keeping that our dirty little secret. "
“You're terrible.” Andi said as she got up to throw her trash away. “I don't know what I'm going to do with you. "
“Meet me in the parking lot at 3."
Andi winked at Buddy over her shoulder as she looped her purse over her shoulder and walked out the cafeteria. Buddy watched her the whole time. He loved the way her body moved when she walked.