Chapter 3: A Meeting at Banana Joe's

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I had only been laying down on my bed for an hour or so and it was getting on towards 4 when the phone rang.  I looked over at it, trying to decide if I should answer.  ”Ah, what the hell,” I said, and picked up the receiver.

“Toshihiro's place.”

“Heh.”  That barking, coughing laugh.  ”Hey Zack; it's Tosh.”

“Oh; hey, Tosh.  What's up?”

There was a pause.  I could almost seem him staring into space and thinking.  ”I could use some help, if that's okay with you.”

“Sure, what can I do?”

Again, a pause.  ”You're fluent in Spanish, right?”

I shook my head.  ”How the hell could you know that?”

“Well, Honduras.”

I shook my head again, bemused this time.  ”Fine.  Honduras.  I speak Spanish.  So?”

“I need some help.  Could you come meet me up at Banana Joe's?”

“Never been there.  Where's that?”

“Up at Crown, right near the dining hall.”

“Yeah, sure.  No problem; I can find that, I think.”

“We can grab sandwiches or something there, if you haven't eaten,” he said.

“Sounds good.”

“See you in a bit, then.”

“Later.”

“Cheers.”

It didn't take me long to pull myself together.  I grabbed a gulp of (cold and terrible) coffee, groaned, grabbed my cane, and headed for the garage.  Sticking to main streets and freeways, I managed to get up to campus without getting lost.  Trusting Tosh's campus friends to not ticket the Rabbit, I parked in the temporary lot near the Crown College entrance and trudged over to dining hall.  It was too early for dinner, but I could see the student workers in their ugly-ass polyester uniforms inside getting things ready.  I circled around to the side and found a coffee shop with the name “Banana Joe's” on a wooden sign over the door.  I went on in.

Banana Joe's was a small—but not tiny—coffee shop and sandwich-small-food-and-dessert place that shared a wall with the dining hall.  It didn't have a big menu, but it got good business because everyone gets tired of dining hall food after a while.  Plus they had epic milkshakes, hand-made to order by the folks behind the counter.  You want bananas and peanut butter in your chocolate milkshake?  Wheat grass juice?  Rolled oats?  Protein powder?  In the Reagan era, before fancy juice and smoothie mixes became a b’zillion dollar industry, that sort of thing was hard to come by.  But if you were anywhere near Crown and BJs you were in luck, because Chris or Corey would accommodate you.

The back third of BJs had a piano, a couch, and some squashy chairs; the main portion had tables made of big empty cable rolls turned on their sides and varnished, surround by rickety chairs that didn't match the tables (or each other, for that matter), some of which had clearly been stolen liberated from the dining hall.  Tosh was sitting at a table near the wall BJs shared with the dining hall, working on a bagel covered with something that looked pretty disgusting, honestly.  I sat down, staring at his bagel.

“Hummus,” he said.

“I didn't ask.”

“Go get yourself something to eat, and then I'll tell you what I need help with.”

“Okay.”  I went to the counter and, avoiding stuff I had never heard of (“Hummus”? “Tabouli”?), and stuff that I didn't like at all (sprouts), got a plain roast beef sandwich with mayo on rye, some chips, and a coke.  Chris looked at me funny, like he couldn't believe someone would come to BJs and ask for something so mundane—not even a shake!—but he took my order and said, “Okay.  Just a few minutes.”  He smiled, then turned to the next person in line to take her order.

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