Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let's try something else

(believe it or not the title is a quote from a videogame; BlastCorps on the Nintendo 64. Rare was a fantastic developer back then. Okay.)

"Where's that damned soccer ball? Laurie! Are you sure it's under here?"

David's probing arm could find no purchase, and he stooped down low to peer under the deck. Cool, damp air upon his face helped him to forget the early afternoon sun while he vainly tried to pierce the darkness through thick-framed glasses. Moving closer, he reached again. Something was there... just a bit farther.

"Maybe Shawn got it earlier! You know how many times I've told him to get that thing out -- come help in the kitchen then!" came his wife's response. Off the hook.

Stretching as he stood upright, David lamented the effects of the past few years on his back. Golf and the BMW were his great passions now; no football and certainly no war games with his friends. A hot day like this would produce a perfect evening - cloudless skies and dry earth to lie upon, keeping watches and capturing objectives in a nearby park. Laurie used to scold him for holding to such childish traditions, but it was just so much fun. Maybe too much fun for a man in his sixth decade.

Through their sliding glass door, inside the kitchen, steaks were nearly marinated in Laurie's delicious homemade sauce, and she was working at pulling a bag of potatoes up from a cupboard. David stood back and admired her curvaceous figure while she struggled to heft the bag onto the counter. Her smirking revenge was to drop the peeler into his hands.

- - -

Shawn Hunter lounged atop the climbing equipment at Benson Park, just a few minutes' walk from his home. With his eyes closed, he couldn't see his friends Lewis, Kevin, or Andrew sneaking into difficult to reach positions all around him. His silent countdown concluded, and he called "Ready or not, you get the idea!"

Listening intently, Shawn felt like the Daredevil or any other imaginary sightless hero. He envisioned the structure around him, and focused on detecting indications of motion -- any vibrations, scents, or quiet scuffling which could give his target's locations away. Forward, forward, slowly down a two step ladder, forward again. Someone was to the left of him - he could hear breathing. Probably Lewis, whose body mass index would mockingly label as "obese".

Shawn turned slowly to the right, toward a red slide he knew no one would reasonably be sitting on. Crouching and putting a leg forward, he prepared to strike. Shawn lunged backward and up, turning around to face his loud-breathing foe, and swung his arm widely in front of him. Nothing but air. And a thump.

"Grounder!" the word leapt from his mouth after his prey, and Lewis' groan came back to him in response. "You're peeking, Shawn! You always peek!" Shaun ignored the taunts and continued to his right, down another step and forward to the monkey bars. People always sit on the top of the monkey bars.

Shawn asked aloud, "Who is it, Lewis? Is it Andrew or Kevin that's up here?"

Lewis' answer was unexpected, "Andrew's cheating! He shouldn't be allowed to stand on the outer wooden border!"

Now came the bickering. Andrew defended his right to walk the edge of the playground without being vulnerable, Lewis continued his accusations of cheating, and Kevin began to argue Andrew's side - from atop the monkey bars. The game was effectively over, so Shawn opened his eyes again to the blinding summer sunlight. Checking the time, he realized his family lunch was soon - and his friends offered distracted farewells as he departed. They'd all meet again in a few hours for baseball. There'd been less arguing before Daryl moved away.

Shawn's trip home was a game: count the number of steps he could take on the curb while running as fast as he could, and then try to beat that. He'd made a deal with God that if he could make it the whole way and only fall off once, then he would get a new bike for his birthday in two weeks. He missed twice, but assured himself that he could do it before his birthday.


At home, both his parents were relaxing at the table, his father reading a newspaper.

"Where's Jenn? Isn't lunch soon?"

"Oh your sister couldn't make it, honey. Something was delaying the train - she called and said that all of the outgoing trains were on hold until further notice. We decided to put our nice lunch off to tomorrow. I can make you a sandwich if you're hungry."

Shawn's curiosity piqued, "Was there an accident or something?"

"Oh I'm not sure... I didn't think to ask. I'll call your sister back if we don't hear from her in an hour or two. Did you want the sandwich?"

Shawn nodded and sat down across from his father. Someone pounded obnoxiously on their front door.

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