The breakfast rush was always a pain to Devin. To save money his mother had been bringing him to work more often and Devin was thrilled to be away from the babysitter. He was also happier than usual because he got to see Sheila several times a week. She was coming over today and he couldn’t wait. The thought of hanging with his only friend made the breakfast rush even a bigger pain.
The employees were always testy until the crowd died down. There was no place for Devin to go that he didn’t feel in the way. He couldn’t sit on his favorite stool because there was always a patron there. The cook didn’t want him in the kitchen because he was afraid of Devin getting injured. He was constantly being told to move. Finally, he just sat on the floor out of his mother’s view with a newspaper that someone had left.
As he read a story about the crisis in the Middle East he felt someone staring at him. He put down the paper and looked around.
The man was immaculately dressed in a light blue suit with a white shirt and red tie. His shoes were made of brown leather and highly polished. He had a ring on each hand. One was big and ugly. He was seated two tables away from where Devin sat on the floor.
“What are you reading?” he asked Devin. His voice was rather high pitched for a man of his stature. Almost like a woman’s.
Devin replied, “The newspaper.” Devin thought the man was a dork and very stupid for asking him what he was reading when it was so obvious.
“Do you read the newspaper often?” the man continued.
“Pretty much every day. Why?” He waited for the man to say something about a boy his age reading the newspaper.
“I was wondering what you thought about the Joe Knotts trial.” Joe Knotts was a janitor at a high school who had been accused of drilling holes in the girl’s locker room so that he could peek.
Devin was taken aback by the question. Most people except his mother spoke to him like he was a little kid. This man asked him a very grown-up question.
Devin got off the floor and sat at the man’s table with the paper still in his hand.
“I’m not sure,” he said thoughtfully. He looked into the man’s eyes. They were blue. “There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence. The holes could have been drilled by anyone and the girl could not have gotten a good look at him. She said it was his eyes she saw but how conclusive can that be?”
“But a teacher saw him come out of the closet.”
“He is a janitor. He has to go in and out of the closet all day. There is no evidence that he was there at the same time the girl discovered someone looking at her.”
They talked awhile about the Knotts case and then moved on to other current events. His mother came by several times to make sure Devin wasn’t bothering the man and to refill his coffee. The man stayed and talked to Devin for over an hour. Finally, he looked at his watch and beckoned Belinda over to him. She walked over with the bill.
“Your son is very impressive,” he told her as Devin sat across from him beaming.
“Thank you very much.” Belinda smiled. “He didn’t bother you too much I hope.”
“To the contrary, I have very much enjoyed our little conversation. Where does he go to school?”
“I homeschool him.”
“Have you thought about sending him to a private school?”
“I really can’t afford that. I’m a single mom just getting by and private schools are so expensive.” The slight smile on the man’s face grew wider. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a card.
“My name is Trent Gaydos and I am the dean of The Pearce Institute for Gifted Children. We received copies of Devin’s tests. Very, very impressive young man you have here!” He said grinning at Devin. “I flew here to meet him and you in person. Forgive me Devin for not telling you who I was but I didn’t want you to think you were being tested again.”
Devin just smiled. He really liked the man. It was good to be able to talk to someone without being patronized.
Trent handed the card to Belinda.
“I would like to do some tests. I can arrange to have you both flown to our New Jersey campus for that. How does that sound to you, Devin?”
“What kind of tests? What is it for?” Devin inquired.
“Just from our short conversation, I can tell that you are an exceptionally bright young man. In fact, I suspect that you are more intelligent than most adults. The tests would give us an accurate indication of where you stand compared to others.”
“What if I do well? Can I go to your school?” Devin looked at Trent and then at his mother who looked worried.
“If you do well then we would offer you a place in our school amongst other children who are gifted.” He got up and turned to Belinda. “Talk about it and call me with your decision. I will be in town all week.” Turning to Devin, “This has been very pleasurable Devin.”
He handed Belinda $50 and the bill. “Good day!” he said and excused himself.
Belinda looked down at Devin’s shoes.
“Tie your shoes, Devin.”
“He said he would fly us to New Jersey for some test. I guess that means they will pay for it. I have some days off I can use. It can’t hurt to go, right? He seems legit,” Belinda babbled.
“This is great! This may be the answers to your prayers!” Nicky exclaimed. “A school for gifted children. I wonder if they will be his age.”
“I didn’t really get a chance to ask him anything about the school. I guess if we go to the tests I can find out more. Devin seems really excited about it. He’s told me ten times that we should go. Mr. Gaydos and him hit it off right from the start. Devin can’t stop talking about him.”
“Would he have to go to school in New Jersey?”
“I don’t know. He made it sound like they had other campuses. Truthfully, I don’t know anything about the school.”
“When do you have to give him an answer?”
“He said he’d be in town the rest of the week but his cell phone is on the card. I guess I can call him anytime.”
“See, you take this…” he pointed at the five “…and multiply it by this.” He pointed to the seven. “What is seven times five Sheila?”
“I know that! It’s thirty-five.” She shouted.
“Right!” shouted Devin back. He loved teaching her. She was so cute and he loved her voice. She always looked at him like he was a superhero or something. “Now what is thirty-five plus twenty Sheila?”
She buried her face in her hands and mumbled, “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me!”
Devin waited patiently. He knew she would be irritated if he gave her the answer or even a hint. He had learned to behave towards her in a way that she would like. He never interrupted her because he watched how aggravated she became when Nicky did that to her. He always believed what she told him no matter how ridiculous her story sounded because adults never seemed to believe children. He had studied her and he knew what it took to become her best friend.
“Fifty-five!” she squealed.
“You are awesome Sheila! How come you’re so smart?”
“Whatever Devin,” she laughed as she shook her head. The beads at the end of her braids clanged together sounding as if they had fallen to the floor. He loved that sound.
Devin gazed at her. She was the prettiest girl he had ever met.
“Will you marry me Sheila?” he asked seriously.
“Sure but I have to grow up first,” she replied meekly.