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chapter six

     It took Trevor and Cindy about fifteen minutes to cover the distance from Blair Avenue to the mall. They locked their bikes in the bike rack, then walked to the entrance. Trevor held the outer door open for Cindy, and she returned the favor on the inner door.
     "You don't mind me holding the door for you, do you?" she asked.
     "Well, I'll let it go this time," Trevor answered with a smile, "but don't let it happen again."
     "You're so silly," said Cindy, returning the smile. "Fortunately, I like silly."
     The mall had one long corridor, about 400 yards in length, and three shorter cross corridors of about 150 yards. Major department stores were located at the ends of the long corridor and the center cross corridor. The other two cross corridors, located perhaps 75 yards from the ends of the long corridor, terminated in doors that led directly outside.
     Trevor and Cindy had entered through the northeast door. Their immediate destination, the ice cream and sandwich shop, was located near the southeast entrance, on the other end of the cross corridor.
     "Noisy in here, isn't it," said Trevor as they moved along the corridor. "Still a lot of lunch time traffic around all these eating places in this area."
     "Yeah," agreed Cindy. "I hope it's a little more peaceful in the ice cream place so we can talk OK. I want to find out everything about you!"
     "Everything?" said Trevor, feigning embarrassment. "Even my belly button lint collection?"
     "Oooh, GROSS!" giggled Cindy. She paused. "How do you do that?"
     "Easy. You just put your thumb and forefinger into the belly button-"
     Cindy burst out laughing, hard enough that she stopped walking. "NO!" she finally said, still chuckling. "I mean, how do you think of funny things to say so fast? I've never met anybody else who could do that."
     "I'm not exactly sure," Trevor replied as they resumed walking. "I've always liked making up jokes. Especially bad puns. I can't remember when I didn't like doing that. My Mom and Dad have the first ones I ever wrote down, when I was in like third grade. They seem pretty lame now, but I guess for an eight year old they weren't too bad. Like, 'What's a frog's favorite drink?'"
     "I give up," said Cindy.
     Cindy chuckled. "You're right," she said. "Not bad at all for a third grader."
     "Anyway," Trevor continued, "I never actually decided to try to get good at ad-libbing jokes. I guess it just happened because I was always looking for subjects for new jokes, and eventually I learned how to recognize and use those opportunities quickly."
     "It's like most things, I suppose," said Cindy. "You have to practice a lot to get good at it. But you definitely have a big natural talent for it too."
     "I don't know," replied Trevor. "A lot of the people I know don't seem to think I'm as funny as you think I am. I get laughs, but I also get a lot of boos."
     "Well, I think you're VERY funny!" Cindy stated.
     "No, no, no," said Trevor, shaking his head. "I fed you a good straight line there, and you blew it. When I said 'I get a lot of boos', you should have said 'But you're too young to drink!' Get it? Booze, as in liquor?"
     "I get it," said Cindy with a smile. "BOOOOOOO!"
     "What do you think you are, a ghost?" said Trevor. "Actually, you are HAUNTINGLY beautiful."
     "Oh, stop it!" chuckled Cindy. "I am not!"
     Trevor suddenly stopped walking, and Cindy stopped with him. Then he touched his forefinger to the underside of Cindy's chin.
     "Yes, you are," Trevor declared. "Seriously. In fact, when you smile, there's no one prettier. And anyone who says different is gonna have to answer to me."
     Cindy looked at Trevor with a loving smile.
     "You really think that, don't you?" she said softly. "You really do think I'm pretty."
     "Absolutely I do!" replied Trevor.
     "When you said that at the game, it seemed like you didn't even mean to say it. You looked as surprised as I was after you said it, and at first I thought that that had to mean you really felt that way. But later, when I was at home, I started wondering if I could be wrong somehow. I mean, I've never even seen a boy look at me like he thought I was pretty, and now all of a sudden this cute, funny, nice boy is actually saying it to me. That probably seems stupid, because why would you want me to be your girlfriend if you didn't think I was pretty, right? But part of me still couldn't quite believe it." She brought her right hand up and stroked it gently down Trevor's cheek. "Now I believe it. Thank you so much."
     "Hey," said Trevor, "I'm just being honest." His voice was slightly unsteady, because his whole body was tingling from the touch of Cindy's hand.
     "You're also being VERY sweet," said Cindy.
     "If you say so," replied Trevor. The tingling began to subside, and Trevor's forehead suddenly crinkled a bit. "You think I'm cute, huh?" he asked.
     "Well, of course," answered Cindy. "Don't tell me no other girl ever told you that before."
     "No, never," said Trevor. "There's one girl I know who I guess must think it, but no one's ever said it."
     "Well, I'll say it again, then: you are a very cute young man!"
     "And you are a very beautiful young lady! And you look like you're ready for ice cream!"
     "Now that you say it, yeah!" said Cindy. "Let's go!"
     They walked the remaining distance to the ice cream shop in a minute or so, exchanging glances but not talking.
     There were four people ahead of them at the counter. As they got into line, Trevor spoke again.
     "You know what you want?" he asked Cindy.
     "Uh-huh," she answered. "Hot fudge sundae. You?"
     "Raspberry sundae," replied Trevor. "Raspberry topping is my favorite sweet thing to eat. Hot fudge would be my next choice, though. Chocolate's my second favorite sweet thing."
     "It's my VERY favorite," said Cindy. "I'm not even sure what my second favorite would be. Maybe Crackerjack peanuts."
     "Oh, yeah, I like those too," agreed Trevor. "I don't eat Crackerjack as much as I used to, though."
     "Me either," said Cindy. "What's your favorite meal?"
     "Pizza," answered Trevor. "Preferably cheese, sausage, onion and green pepper. Black olives and mushrooms are OK too."
     "I like pizza too," said Cindy. "Although I don't like green peppers and olives on it. But my favorite is cheeseburgers and corn on the cob, cooked on a grill. In a way it's kind of a bad favorite, 'cause you can only have it during part of the year."
     "I know what you mean," said Trevor. "It's worth waiting for, though. Hey, I got an idea. Why don't our families have a cookout together sometime soon? Maybe this weekend."
     "Yeah, that would be cool!" agreed Cindy. "I'm busy Saturday, but maybe Sunday. Let's both ask when we get home."
     "Deal!" said Trevor.
     A few seconds later the last person in front of them stepped away with his purchase, and Trevor and Cindy moved up to the counter.
     "Can I help you?" asked the clerk.
     "I doubt it," replied Trevor. "I've already been to three psychiatrists, and they couldn't help me. But you can sell us some ice cream!"
     "Trevor!" giggled Cindy, as she poked his arm with her elbow. She looked at the clerk. "I'm sorry about that, sir," she said. Then she leaned forward, and in a stage whisper added, "We really thought those shock treatments would work."
     Trevor laughed. "Very good!" he said. "I'm proud of you!"
     Suddenly the customer behind them coughed loudly. Trevor looked over his shoulder.
     "Oh, sorry," he said, still chuckling. "We didn't mean to be rude." He turned back to the clerk. "One large raspberry sundae." He looked at Cindy. "What size you want?"
     "I'm not sure," she replied. "I hadn't thought about it."
     "Feel free to get a large," said Trevor. "It's on me, and we're celebrating a couple of things."
     "All right. Large hot fudge it is!"
     "Large raspberry and large hot fudge," said the clerk. "Anything else?"
     Trevor looked at Cindy. She shook her head.
     "Nope, that'll do it," said Trevor.
     "That'll be $4.73," said the clerk.
     Trevor paid for the sundaes. A minute later they were ready, and Trevor picked both of them up and led Cindy into the dining area.

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