Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 868
Bud and the rest of the band go into a restaurant. Bud sees that it is really the living room of a house that his been transformed into an dining area with the addition of folding chairs and card tables. There is a line of people waiting to be seated, but Calloway’s entourage excuses itself, passes the line, and finds the table where Calloway is already seated. The smells that assault Bud remind him of all of his favorite foods cooked in one pot. It is no surprise to him that there is a line of folks waiting to be fed. He believes, "This must be exactly how heaven smells!"
Mr. Jimmy and a woman are sitting with Herman E. Calloway. Although Steady Eddie notes that there is another table “RESERVED NBC” (for Nobody But Calloway), Mr. Jimmy waves Bud over to join them—much to Bud’s discomfort. Calloway intimidates him and the boy would rather eat with the band, but this cannot be avoided. As he approaches the group, Mr. Jimmy introduces the woman as Miss Thomas, the band’s “vocal stylist.” Seeing the youngster’s confusion, Miss Thomas explains that she sings with the band. Just as his mother raised him, Bud extends his hand and speaks politely to Miss Thomas, who finds his gentlemanly manners a pleasant surprise.
It is quickly apparent by Miss Thomas’s outrage over Bud’s hornet stings and news of his imprisonment in the shed that she is someone who might care about what happens to him. Miss Thomas is irritated that none of the band members noticed the boy’s injuries, and she listens carefully as Bud describes what happened at the Amos’s house. During the conversation, Herman E. Calloway is not very sympathetic. Miss Thomas continues asking questions, and the truth of Bud’s life at the Home and the loss of his mother four years before are revealed. When asked about his father,
I pointed dead at Herman E. Calloway’s big belly again and said, “That’s him right there.”
Trying not to smile at this outlandish notion, the vocalist reminds her young friend that pointing is not polite. The boy apologizes to her and to Mr. Calloway. Miss Thomas decides a change of topic is appropriate so she invites Bud to sit with them and eat a good dinner. Calloway chooses not to remain; he goes to sit with the band and makes a sarcastic comment about “his son” at the other table. Meanwhile, Tyla comes over to take their order and is also impressed by Bud’s good manners.
While dinner is being prepared, Miss Thomas suggests that Calloway is probably not the boy’s father but that maybe his mom was confused because the band leader is famous. Bud does not think this is possible, but hesitates to speak of the flyers and the things in his suitcase. He is glad when their meals arrive. The singer declares that there have been enough questions for the day and that they will talk again tomorrow. Bud feels relieved because the questions have stopped, but also he realizes that “tomorrow” means he will be staying at least one night.
The food is delicious; dessert is even better. Bud loves every bit of it. He also realizes that Miss Thomas is the most beautiful woman in the world. Her humming is amazing:
What her humming reminded me most of was that feeling you get when you walk barefoot on a railroad track and, for a long time before you can see it, you can feel the train coming right through the bottoms of your feet....From hearing just this little...
(This entire section contains 868 words.)
bit of humming I could understand why Mr. Jimmy didn’t call her a singer,singer wasn’t a big enough world to take in the kind of music that was jumping out of Miss Thomas’s chest.
Bud also realizes things about the band members: Mr. Jimmy is able to tell really funny stories. Steady Eddie is really nice, too, able to
eat and talk and laugh and drink and sneeze whilst keeping a toothpick dangling out of his mouth.
Not much talking goes on at Herman E. Calloway’s table, but even so, a surprising thought comes to Bud:
Of all the people I’d ever met these were the ones. This was where I was supposed to be.
Bud promises himself that a grouchy old man like Calloway is not going to drive him away from these wonderful people. He laughs and enjoys himself enormously. But then, all of a sudden, he notices that “some rusty old valve squeaked open in me” and suddenly he begins to cry—something he had stopped doing a long time ago. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot find a way to stop.
Miss Thomas scoops Bud up in her arms, comforting him with her words. Then she begins to hum and he starts to relax:
I wasn’t sure if it was her lips or her hand, but something whispered to me in a language that I didn’t have any trouble understanding, it said, “Go ahead and cry, Bud, you're home.”