Roger sat alone at the table in the corner of the lunchroom, like he always did. Had anyone glanced at Roger they would have seen an expressionless face slowly grinding away at his ham sandwich, but nobody ever did. Beneath that expressionless face Roger was intently eavesdropping on any conversation he could.
"….was so weird! I don't even understand it." He caught Sally saying. Roger knew she was talking about him. Specifically about how Roger would eat his sandwich, crust first. He quickly finished the half of sandwich he had left in his hand.
"How did she notice that?" Roger whispered. Sally and Kim both glanced warily at him then went back to talking between themselves, a little more quietly. Roger focused on a small crack in the lunch table almost as if he was trying to blend in with the lunch room itself.
His thoughts briefly switched to his Yellow Canary, Flossie. Guilt washed over Roger's conscience like a tidal wave. He had just finished locking the 9th and final lock on his apartment door that morning when he heard Flossie's voice coming from behind the door.
"Flossie!" Roger yelled. He fumbled with his keys as he frantically tried to unlock the numerous locks on his door. He looked at his watch, 6:49. He needed to leave in exactly two minutes or he would be a minute late for his morning route. Realizing unlocking the door was fruitless; Roger pushed his ear against the door to hear what Flossie was trying to tell him.
"…don't let them take it from you." Roger repeated under his breath at the lunch table. That was all he could make out through the door that morning. Roger assumed Flossie had been trying to tell him how to deal with the people he worked with. He had confided in Flossie, the night before, about someone who had been stealing his ham sandwich at work.
"How dare somebody steal MY sandwich from MY lunch bag? Flossie, you and I spent all night thinking of what to make for my lunch. And now it's gone, stolen." Roger had said to Flossie the night before. Flossie looked at Roger from her perch on his left shoulder, her black eyes unblinking.
"Well don't just look at me Flossie, what should I do about it?" Roger asked.
"Give me the night to think about it and I will tell you what to do tomorrow." Flossie tweeted back. "Answer me this, how angry does it make you to know that someone took what we created? This person not only took something that belonged to us, but also soiled the time we spent making it by their thievery."
"It makes me very angry!" Roger yelled, slamming his fist against the wall.
"Very well, I will tell you what to do tomorrow." Flossie replied.
Roger glanced at his wristwatch, 2:19. He had one minute to leave the lunchroom, two minutes to get into his bus, and another minute to pull out of the bus company parking lot at exactly 2:23. Roger stood up, pushed his chair in and started walking towards the door of the lunch room. Anger swept over his mind briefly as he glanced towards the fridge.
"That's where they stole our sandwich Flossie." Roger thought to himself. Roger continued past the fridge and made his way out of the building. Two-Twenty-One, right on time. And by 2:22 Roger was sitting comfortably in the driver's seat of bus 311.
Roger's afternoon route was a pretty short one; Just a handful of stops after picking the kids up at the elementary school. He got along great with the kids, although inside he was envious of them. Roger's childhood was filled with loneliness and abandonment. His father left at a very young age, and his mother was too obsessed with soap operas to even notice Roger. And as he dropped each of the kids off he gradually forgot about his envy, and was eager to get home and see Flossie.
As Roger pulled into the school bus parking lot he noticed Adam's car was leaving the parking spot right next to his. Adam was one of the mechanics who worked at the bus company. He was also number 2 on Roger's list of who he suspected to be the sandwich thief. Roger parked his bus in his usual parking spot, and walked towards his car to go home. As Roger got closer to his vehicle he noticed his left front tire was a little bit lower than the rest.
"Strange, I don't remember it being that low." Roger thought to himself. "Adam!" Roger yelled. "It had to have been him! That dirty sneaking low life, only a mechanic would think of this!"
Roger got in his car and sped away toward home and more importantly, Flossie. With each passing car Roger's anger grew. It grew so much his knuckles were beginning to turn white from the force at which he gripped the steering wheel. Roger was shaking by the time he arrived home from the anger that was boiling up inside of him, threatening to spill over at the slightest provocation. He headed up the stairs to his small one bedroom apartment. Fifteen steps. Fifteen steps from the pavement to Rogers front door. At step number seven, the one with a small bend to it, Roger began to feel more relaxed. He was only eight steps and nine locks away from Flossie.
Roger opened the front door slowly, like he always did. Flossie was sitting at the counter waiting for him as he entered.
"Hi Flossie, how was your day?" Roger inquired.
"Good evening Roger, I've been waiting for you." Flossie replied. "You look angry, why are you angry Roger? Did they steal our lunch again?"
"No, not today. I watched everyone closely like you told me to. They're definitely talking about me. I think one of them even let the air out of my tire." Roger answered.
"And what are you going to do about this Roger?" Flossie asked.
"I'm not sure, I don't know how to make them stop." Roger replied in a concern voice.
"I know how to make them stop Roger." Flossie tweeted back. "Tomorrow you're going to bring me to work with you. I've prepared something that will allow us to identify who has been stealing what's ours Roger."
"But Flossie, I can't bring you to work. What if someone sees you?" Roger said.
"You will bring me to work tomorrow Roger." Flossie repeated. "I will be in your front pocket so I can direct you more efficiently. You need to fill my water container and go to bed now. We will have an amazing day tomorrow Roger."
"Yes Flossie." Roger replied as he began filling the long slender water container Flossie often drank from. Roger padded off towards his room when he turned around as if to ask something from Flossie. Flossie was still perched at the counter facing the door, exactly as she was when Roger arrived home. Roger closed his mouth, turned around and headed off to bed for the night.
Roger woke the next morning to his alarm clock ringing. Six O'clock, like every other day. Only this day Flossie was sitting perched atop his alarm clock.
"Flossie, what are you doing there?" Roger asked in a very sleepy voice.
"I was watching you sleep Roger. You will be wearing your yellow shirt today Roger. The one with the large pocket on the left front side." Flossie tweeted.
Roger slipped his yellow shirt on, and walked towards the kitchen.
" I don't like this shirt Flossie, the color matches my bus and I don't like that." Roger complained.
"I have chosen this shirt for a specific purpose Roger. Now grab your lunch bag from our fridge, we need to make our lunch now Roger." Flossie answered. Roger walked to the fridge and pulled out the week old deli sliced ham, a bottle of expired mustard, and two pieces of wheat bread.
"Put two slices of ham on that piece of bread, now three lines of mustard on the other piece." Flossie instructed. Roger did as he was told and before long he had his sandwich nicely wrapped and inside of his bag. He glanced at his wrist watch, 6:45.
"Time to leave Roger." Flossie chirped. And with that Flossie hopped down from Rogers shoulder and into his pocket. Within minutes they were on their way to Rogers work. Upon arriving Roger noticed Adam had taken his usual parking spot.
"Look Flossie! I knew he did it! He took my spot!" Roger yelled. "What are we going to do?"
" Patience Roger, all will be settled today." Flossie replied. And with that they headed inside of the company building to put Roger's lunch in the fridge. Flossie stayed hidden inside of the pocket for most of the journey there. Briefly peeking her yellow face up to get a look at the building and people they passed. Roger finally arrived to the lunch room and walked towards the fridge. The lunch room was empty, which was strange at this time of day. Most of the employees had a line formed in front of the coffee machine by now. But not today, they were absent from the room entirely. Flossie noticed this as well and took the opportunity to fly up to Rogers shoulder.
"Put your bag down on the counter and open it Roger." Flossie instructed. "Now take our sandwich out and remove the top piece of bread." Roger did what he was told.
"Why are we doing this Flossie?" Roger asked in a curious tone.
"Just do what I say Roger. Now reach in your shirt pocket and take out the vial." Flossie chirped. "Undo the top and pour its contents on the bread Roger."
"What is this stuff Flossie?"
"It is how we catch who has been taking from us Roger. It is poison."
"Flossie! We can't do this! I don't want to kill anybody!" Roger exclaimed.
"Do what I say Roger!" Flossie hissed. "Put it on the bread."
Roger reluctantly poured the contents onto the bread. It was a thick green liquid that was hard to spread but Roger managed.
"Good, now put the sandwich back together and place it back in the bag then place the bag in the fridge Roger." Flossie instructed. Roger did as he was told and exited the lunch room before anyone had the chance to see what they had done.
The rest of the morning was a blur to Roger as he chauffeured the children from their cozy, loving homes to school. Roger's mind was whirling around what had happened in the lunch room. There was no turning back now. Rogers mind was still a mess of thoughts and emotions when lunch time came around.
"Verdict time." Flossie proclaimed from Rogers shirt. Roger slowly walked into the lunch room, looking sheepishly at everyone sitting at their tables. Roger made his way to the fridge, upon opening it he noticed his lunch bag was gone; someone had taken it. Roger slowly closed the door to the fridge and almost as if on cue the sound of faint sirens creep into his mind. At first Roger didn't even notice, his mind was going a million miles per hour. But the sirens got louder and louder, loud enough for Roger to finally notice them. His heart was pounding ferociously now.
"Flossie! They're coming for us, I know it!" Roger whispered.
"Calm yourself, those are ambulance sirens Roger." Flossie replied. She was right, within minutes Roger saw an ambulance speed up to the building. Two paramedics jumped out and sprinted towards the school. Roger walked out of the lunch room and watched the paramedics run down the hallway. He stood there frozen, as if watching a movie. Right before the paramedics collided with Roger they turned off into a small room.
"Follow them Roger." Flossie instructed. Roger silently obeyed and walked into the room. Roger was taken aback at what he saw. He was expecting to see Adam laying on the ground, but instead he saw Maggie, the operator for the bus company.
"So it was her all the whole time." Roger whispered. The paramedics had been busy working on Maggie, trying to get her to breathe again. But the only change they had produced was foam pouring out of her mouth and down her cheek. Roger slowly turned around and exited the room.
"They cannot save her Roger." Flossie chirped. And she was right, Maggie was pronounced dead shortly after eating Rogers sandwich.
"I feel horrible! How could I have done such a thing! How could YOU do such a thing Flossie?" Roger wailed as he walked towards his bus.
"Do you regret doing this Roger? I can make it all go away. Tell me Roger, how bad do you feel?" Flossie asked.
"I can't remember the last time I felt this bad Flossie! Please make it go away!" Roger began sobbing, doubled over in his drivers chair. His mind was cluttered with tremendous feelings of guilt and strangely, his childhood.
"Drink some water Roger." Flossie tweeted. Roger looked up to see Flossie perched atop a bottle of drinking water Roger had left in the cup holder the day before. Roger reached for the bottle, and drank deeply. The water tasted great, it was refreshing to Roger. He felt as if his mind had sudden absolved from all guilt.
"Thank you Flossie, you're too kind to me." Roger said. As the words escaped his mouth Rogers stomach began to gurgle. The gurgling soon became louder and his stomach began to hurt. Roger glanced at his wristwatch. Two-Twenty-Two
"Right on time." Roger thought. He reached up to grab the steering wheel, but found he couldn't move his arm. Roger looked down at his right arm, he had a very confused look on his face. Realization hit Roger like a ton of bricks. Flossie had poisoned him too. His eye sight was becoming blurred, the pain in his stomach was a dull throbbing sensation now. He saw his friend Flossie perched on his steering wheel. Her black eyes looking directly into his.
"Goodbye Roger." Flossie chirped.
"Goodbye Flossie." Roger said with tears rolling down his cheek. Roger mustered up every ounce of energy he could and reached his right hand towards Flossie to feel her soft feathers one last time.
It took his coworkers forty five minutes to find Rogers lifeless body in his bus. Adam was the first person to notice Roger slumped forward in his seat. He had called for help immediately , and ran to Rogers side. He shook Roger, but Roger did not respond. Roger's right arm fell from the top of the steering wheel down to his side, something fell out of his hand and bounced on the dirty rubber floor. Adam looked down and saw a little yellow toy Canary laying on the black rubber floor. On back of the Canary he noticed the name "Roger" carved into the old yellow wood. He picked it up, and placed it into the small front pocket of Roger's yellow shirt.