THE LUNCHEONS – Part 1 (ah the suspense…part 2 to follow)
He was ravenously hard at work on his PB and J sandwich. Munching down huge sloppy bites. This was tough stuff. Keeping all the jam from sticking to the side of his face or from spurting out the sides of the white bread was even tougher. Wonder bread. Lunch food of champions, sticks to the top of your mouth and settles in your stomach with the ease of molasses. Jimbo loved his PB and J; his mom even cut the crusts off for him. He didn’t want his hair to get curly. That’s what bread crusts do to your hair. Or at least that’s what his grandpa always said.
Enough said. The six-year old yelled to his mom that he was done and was going outside to play in the yard. The only reply was a stern ‘don’t go in the street honey.’ Freedom, belly full and the yard to conquer. The Osh Kosh ‘ralls were already in motion towards the screen door. Pushing in that place on the door where the screen was starting to wear from constant use, Jimbo was in the yard. The world was his. The grass lay before him in a huge expanse of green, yielding only to the white fence that signified the end of the world.
The red-stained picnic table was off to the left of the yard, while an even more tempting vista was over to the right, the swing-set. As the sun beat down on the blond head speeding around the yard the swing-set became Mt. Everest. Bolting across the grass, Jimbo leapt onto the slide. The next five minutes seemed like hours as he tried to walk, crawl, and scramble up the silver slide. Never budging an inch, never losing hope, with the patience of a stock broker waiting to sell off millions in stock, he tried to get up that slide. His blue Keds kept slipping down the shiny slide. Victory was to be his though as he pulled with his arms with valiance, edging his way upwards. The top. Top of the world ma. Standing on the top platform Jimbo looked around surveying his territory. With that done, he grabbed the side-rails and flung himself downwards. Sliding quickly down, he flew off the end of the ride into the hole where feet had landed time and time again at the end of this journey. Dust kicked up, covering his overalls with a brown tinge that mom would probably frown at later.
The picnic table now lay in his path, the site of last night’s barbecue. Watermelon, corn on the cob, hot dogs, etc. Nothing like his favorite PB and J though. Getting down on his hands and knees, Jimbo crawled onto the grass under the table. The relatively cool shade under the table on this humid summer day made it seem like he had just entered a cave. Cobwebs above him further solidified the prospect and made the picture complete. Indian carvings formed on the underside of the old wooden table, or was that just old gum stuck there by his older sister. Some kind of strange animal lived in this cave. A prehistoric wolf hound or even a cougar. Its droppings were in the corner of the cave, in a little pile. His dog spent most of the family picnics scrounging for scraps under the table, amidst all the feet. That little fact escaped Jimbo’s mind as his cave world whirled around him.
Rolling out from underneath the table, he crawled along the grass on his hands and knees. Green stains now accompanied the brown ones. Mom would be pleased. The army owned him now. He crawled under barbed wire and stayed really, really close to the ground, dirt went down the front of his overalls and rubbed against his white T-shirt. Mom would be happier still. Ahead was the red desert, formally know as the front walkway made out of red bricks. Sand was king in the desert, with palm trees or rather, weeds, growing out between the cracks in the bricks. Inching along on his elbows, Jimbo saw the enemy ahead of him. They came out of the grass and moved across the desert into the sand hills.
The army was moving consistently along as Jimbo settled down on the edge of the grass to watch today’s maneuvers. They stayed mainly (on the plain) no, in the sand of the cracks. Sometimes they would go underground, tunneling into the safety below the surface. They had many groups, all of them moving along different paths, from different directions, towards a common point. The camp. The big sand hill lay about six inches from the grassy forest. The whole army complex must lay underground because all that Jimbo could see was a whole in the top of the hill. The infantry trundled down into the hole while still others, done with business below, came up out of the hole in search of a new mission.
Jimbo lay there motionless, watching the goings-on and wondering what the underground camp looked like. More soldiers came out of the forest with trophies. Jimbo saw a platoon carrying a trophy back from a long mission. A piece of hot dog bun lay atop about six soldiers as the group proceeded towards camp. Wondering still about how the group made the trek from the picnic table all the way back here. Or how still, did they know that the food was over there in the first place. A scouting mission, must have been. Jimbo looked down at the soles of his Keds, looking for any casualties from the army. He had run back and forth in the area between the table and the walkway many times. How many soldiers got smooshed under his Keds during his random playing. Wow, probably a whole battalion.