center, where the supporting cables on each side hung low enough to grab as handrails, they watched him stop and peer over the edge.
“Why is he just standing there?” Jake asked. “What's he
“Spitting,” said Wally.
“That's what he's doing,” said Wally. “He's spitting in the water to see how far it will float.”
Jake and Josh stared at Wally.
“You can't see your own spit in the water. It gets mixed up with the river.”
“I know,” said Wally. “But that's what Peter's trying to find out.”
His brothers were still looking at Wally strangely, though, and Wally wondered if he and Peter were the only boys in Upshur County who had ever passed a May afternoon by spitting in the Buckman River.
Eventually, however, Peter began walking forward again, stopping now and then to try to see the river between the slats in the bridge, and at long last he reached the other side and started up the Malloys’ hilly lot.
“I sure didn't need this right now,” said Jake. “I'm trying not to let
throw me off stride for Saturday's game. Clarksburg's going to be a tough team to beat.”
“Well, I sure didn't need it either,” said Josh. “Whatif Beth brings those pictures to school and puts one up on the bulletin board or something?”
It went without saying that Wally didn't need this either. He didn't need it now or ever. He didn't need Caroline sticking the picture of him in his bunny pajamas on the end of a ruler and thrusting it over his shoulder at school. He didn't need her passing the pictures around the girls’ table at lunch. He didn't need to walk by groups of giggling girls out on the playground and see them all point to him. No sir, he didn't need that at all.
“Do you think they'll give the album to him?” Josh asked as the minutes ticked by and Peter disappeared from view at the top of the hill.
“If they give the pictures to anyone, it will be Peter,” said Jake. “They like Peter. They think he's just the sweetest thing that ever lived. Ha! They should check out his closet sometime. They should smell his breath after he's eaten cheese! But hey! If Peter gets the pictures back, he can smell like dog doo for all I care.”
Mr. Hatford's car turned into the driveway, and the boys could hear his footsteps as he came into the house.
They heard the voices of their parents in the kitchen below, and the sound of the TV as Mr. Hatford turned on the evening news. There came the smell of frying pork chops, and the clatter of plates on the table.
Wally and his brothers stood at the upstairs window, noses pressed against the glass.
“Come… on!” Josh breathed.
he?” said Jake.
“Well, you can't expect him just to say, ‘Give me the pictures,’ and think they'll hand them right over,” said Wally. “He's got to be sweet first.”
“Man, I don't know how he does it. He's so sweet that the girls always feed him cookies when he goes over there,” said Jake.
them especially for him,” said Josh.
“Which makes him even sweeter,” said Wally.
Five more minutes went by. Then ten.
“Boys!” came their mother's voice from below.
“Wash up. Supper's on the table.”
“Oh, man!” Wally whispered.
“Coming!” called Josh.
They went into the bathroom and washed their hands, doing everything in slow motion, hoping to stall for time.
Down the stairs they went, stopping at the front door to peer out again at the swinging bridge, looking for a lone figure coming down the hill from the Malloys’ with a photo album under his arm.
They went into the kitchen, where mashed potatoes and green beans and pork chops sat on various platters, and a dish of applesauce stood in the center of the table.
Mrs. Hatford glanced around at her brood, then went to the kitchen doorway and called, “Peter?”
“Uh…he'll be back any minute, Mom,” said Wally. “He's doing an errand.”
“At suppertime?” his mother