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The Hero Experience - Chapter 6

 
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:58 pm    Post subject: The Hero Experience - Chapter 6 Reply with quote



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Chapter 6


Doug dropped his bomb on Tuesday. He'd bought a bow. Doug was a hard guy to figure out. After several phone conversations with him, during which I described our preparations, he decided to participate in the project. It proved yet again that enthusiasm is mightier than pessimism — which would make a great slogan for a bumper sticker: Enthusiasm is Mightier than Pessimism!

On second thought, maybe not. Too long. It would only fit on a Lincoln Continental.

Doug had convinced his father that a little archery practice in the backyard would be cheaper than putting his son on the family’s car insurance, which Mr. Green was reluctant to do. And so, Attila the Cheapskate purchased a beautiful bow and all the related equipment wholesale through a friend. Doug ended up with a brand new set of archery gear, the only new equipment in our group. Not that I would have traded with him. After all, our bows had a rich cultural history. Doug’s bow had a sales receipt.

But Doug had another surprise for us. Since his own archery equipment had included a pair of clip-on arrow holders that mounted the shafts right to his bow, Doug had purchased three more sets of arrow holders for the rest of us. They made the whole bow-and-arrow arrangement look like a single deadly mechanism. The arrows could easily and quickly be pulled from the holders and placed on the bow, ready to shoot.

Doug had bought the clips himself, so we had to reimburse him for the cost. Nobody minded. Doug had proven himself to be part of the team. I called Mr. Moscowitz and asked him to make one more mask. I told him my girlfriend had decided to go to the costume party as Mrs. Zorro. I had to wait for the old gentleman to stop laughing before he could tell that all four masks would be ready on Friday, as promised. As I hung up the phone it occurred to me that Mr. Moscowitz was our "Alfred the butler". Bruce Wayne had a guy who answered the door. We had a wise old mentor whose secret identity was a mild mannered tailor.

Stan and Carl also proved themselves part of the team when they presented their clever invention to Doug and me two days later, on Thursday.

“You call these what?” said Doug, examining one of the trick arrows that Carl and Stan had devised.

“Sluggers. We call ‘em sluggers,” said Stan. He was so proud of his creation that he acted like a new daddy who wanted to hand out cigars. “Pretty cool, huh? We just drilled holes in a few of those hard little balls from the toy store — the ones that bounce almost as high as your hand when you drop them. Then we cut off the points off the arrows and dipped the blunt ends into epoxy glue. When the end of the arrow is pushed down into the hole in the ball, you end up with an arrow that packs a helluva punch.”

“Hence the cute name slugger,” I said, sounding a tiny bit critical without meaning to.

Stan’s face hardened, and he narrowed his eyes. “You don’t like the name?”

Geez, so touchy. Emotions were running high for some reason. “No, really, I love it!” I said quickly. “The name and the concept. Brilliant! Have you tried them?”

“Of course we’ve tried them,” Stan said indignantly. “Come on.”

My dad was at work and my mother was shopping, so we weren't worried about anybody seeing us with the archery equipment. We went down to my basement and did some secret target practice where my neighbors couldn’t see our bizarre weapons. We used a few cardboard boxes as targets, and we punched the poor things all over the place. The sluggers were slower and less accurate than unmodified arrows, but they packed a mean wallop! The bows actually kicked back like shotguns when we fired the unnaturally heavy arrows. Sometimes the sluggers went right through the sides of the cardboard boxes. I cringed at the thought of what it would feel like to be hit by one of these crazy things. As gimmick weapons, they were surprisingly effective. If we actually had to use these, they would probably inflict an impressive amount of pain — hopefully without really injuring the victim.

A slugger on the jawbone, nose, or forehead would be like getting punched by a prize fighter. A slugger in the gut would be like four days of the Asian flu.

By gum, we were armed and dangerous! It was a scary thought.

_______________________________________________________________

I picked up our masks from Mr. Moscowitz on Friday. He made me try one on to be sure they looked okay. They did. In fact, they looked great. I was very impressed with his workmanship. The color was perfect and he had used a sturdier cotton fabric than our t-shirts were made of. The masks were made from a double layer of this material, and somehow all the seams were barely visible. As promised, the ends of the masks fastened in back with Velcro strips. The masks could be put on and taken off in two seconds flat. It was awesome.

Mr. Moscowitz was as giddy as a kid who got a red bike he knew would make him the envy of the neighborhood. He and his wife of forty-five years were leaving on their dream vacation in a few days. He promised to take lots of pictures of English girls, French girls, and German girls. I told him I’d like a picture of the Coliseum in Rome, as well. He chuckled and promised to take one, and he’d make sure an Italian girl was standing in front of it.

Mr. Moscowitz was my kinda guy.

He made me promise to take pictures of the Drama Club costume party. I left his shop with a guilty conscience, quietly saying prayers for forgiveness.

__________________________________________________________________

We had yet to decide on a name for our band of fearless vigilantes. We debated naming ourselves everything from the Indigo Archers to the Night Avengers. Doug’s suggestions tended to be too grandiose. The name he favored was the Knights of Justice — which Stan hated, out loud.

Stan’s suggestions were consistently tongue-and-cheek. The names he passionately campaigned for were the Volunteer Avengers and the Anonymous Night Stalkers.

Carl and I wanted something simple but sincere. It was Carl’s idea to call ourselves the Bowmen.

It was a name so humble it was brilliant. Stan liked it because it wasn’t flowery. Doug approved of it because it had an understated dignity.

And so, we finally agreed. We became the Bowmen.

Ta-daaaaa!


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_________________
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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)
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