“You did well on the test, Jennifer.” Mr. Freeman praised. “It shows that you studied.”
“It wasn’t that.”
“What was it then?”
“I been eating a lot of tuna fish sammidges.”
“That’s the secret?”
“Mom says, ‘tuna makes you smart.’”
“Your mom must be correct. Great job. Have a nice weekend.”
“Thanks Mr. Freeman, you too.”
Abe pulled into Valley Diner’s lot, got out of the Subaru, and went into the diner. Jimmy, the diners owner, swished the toothpick around in his mouth, “the usual, Abe?”
“No. Not today. You got any tuna sandwiches?”
Jimmy scribbled on a scrap of paper. “You want lettuce? Tomato? Mayo? Pickles?”
“What do people usually get on tuna sandwiches?”
“You never have a tuna sandwich? Tuna makes you smart – fish makes you smart.”
“My dad was eaten by a shark.”
Jimmy smirked, twisting the toothpick wildly.
“Fish was taboo in our household.”
The smirk disappeared.
“So, what’s good on tuna?”
“I’ll have Linda fix you up a classic tuna sandwich. We’ll start you off slow.”
The tuna sandwich arrived; along with a side if potato chips, and a mug of root beer. Abe poked at the tuna, as if it would jump off his plate and eat him.
“You know Jimmy, I been a teacher for sixteen years, and I did not know that fish made you smart. That’s how fish-proof my mother made my life.”
“You’ve lived a sheltered life, Abe.”
Abe sipped his root beer, turned the plate and ate a few of the chips. He suspiciously avoided the tuna sandwich.
“You gonna’ eat that?” Jimmy asked sarcastically.
“Are you gonna eat the sandwich?”
“Yeah, yeah, just easing into it. I never had fish before. My mom told my brother and I that fish were poison.”
“Because your dad was devoured by a shark?”
“Yeah. The way she carried on about that man. They don’t make love as strong as that anymore. No pun. I mean, even after death, she was faithful to my father. Relationships today are not like that. They leave the chapel married, but how many grooms bang the bridesmaids in the rectory, while awaiting the wedding march?”
“I know what you mean. values have changed over the last few generations. My kids got a Mohawk and a nose ring. He looks like a bull with a bad haircut.”
“Whew, okay Jimmy, be my witness, I’m eating tuna.”
Abe clamped the sandwich between his hands, and brought it to his open mouth. He bit into it and chewed. Jimmy watched, toothpick ticking from side to side like a pendulum.
“What? What? You gonna be sick?” Jimmy went for a bucket beneath the counter.
“ Mmmm , no, mmmm , Jimmy, this is incredible.”
Linda poked her head over the order board.
“Linda, this is great. What have I missed.”
“It’s the pickles, they give it pizzazz.” Linda gushed proudly, her chin in the air.
“Maybe you should try shark.” Jimmy suggested.
“What?” Abe asked between chews.
“You know, shark steaks. To get even for your father.”
“They eat shark?”
“Some do. It’s not bad, I’ve tried it.”
“And you think I should try it?”
“It would close the circle for you. So to speak.”
“Maybe I will.”
He ate the rest of the sandwich, chips, and drained the root beer. He paid, left a tip on the counter, and left the diner.