My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Monday, April 29, 2013

A mother's love should never be forgotten

The light wool uniform was a tad baggy but not uncomfortable in the summer sun.  It was a light gray and had the feel of pajamas except for the number on the back and the stripes on the shirt and pants.  A blue stripe along the seams and the number thirteen weighing upon my back decorated the otherwise nondescript outfit.  I had my glove in my hand and my cap on my head.  I was ready to walk to the school. 
I looked back at the little box of cinderblocks I called home. 
“Pink,” I thought.  “Of all the colors to paint a house. Pink. Yuck.”
My folks had moved here recently to be closer to my grandparent’s house since I had been staying there during the school week.  It was a good feeling to know that my parents missed me enough to move closer so that I could walk to our house instead of my grandparent’s.  Yeah, it was a good feeling but it didn’t quite make up for them not attending the game I was headed toward.
I had made the baseball team.  Well it was Little League, but still.  Yup, I was a little leaguer and heading down the road to my first actual game. 
“I better walk,” I thought. “I might get grease from my bike chain on to my brand new uniform and that wouldn’t do.  They might not let me play.”
The road wound out of the subdivision onto Stono Shores Road.  I picked up my pace from my usual mosey and hurried along the side until I got to the Municipal Golf Course.  Old Man Adams always ran us off the fairway when he caught us but it never stopped us crossing over to get to school.  He wasn’t around so it was clear walking ahead.  Crossing Maybank Highway was no problem.  It led to Johns Island and nobody cared so it was a lonely stretch of two lane black top to the bridge crossing the Stono. 
I ran across like always because it was a road and my parents had always told me to stay off the road unless I wanted to be run over by an automobile.  Though there wasn’t one I had no wish to tempt fate.  It was always possible an out of control Ford could come barreling out of nowhere and run me over leaving me on the side of the street like a flat cat, two days old. 
So I scooted across holding my glove firmly in my hand.    My folks had bought it for me last time we were in Silver’s.  It lay on the counter smelling of new cut leather, and aphrodisiac to a young boy enamored of baseball legends like Pee Wee Reese and Mickey Mantle.  I reached up on the counter and pulled it off and slipped it onto my left hand.  The feel of it was firm and caressing.  I plopped it onto my face and inhaled deeply.  The rich new leather smelled of calf and oil bursting with the promise of super stardom on the baseball field. 
I punched my fist into the pocket and felt the slight stab of pressure against my palm. 
“Wow!  That’ll protect my hand against the sting of a line drive,” I exclaimed.
My dad nodded at me as he looked around for my mother who had walked into the lingerie section. 
“Can I get this?” I asked him.
“Get what, son?”
“This glove.  I’ll need it since I’m on the team.  All the guys have their own glove.  I’d really like to have my own so’s I don’t have to borrow one when I go to the games.”
“You don’t need a baseball glove,” he said still looking around the store.
“No, I guess not.”  I took it off my hand slowly feeling the luxury of a real baseball mitt slip away.  I put it back where it was but lingered looking fondly at it.
“Oh, there she is,” said dad.  “Let’s go, son.”
He walked off but I stayed on half listening to his words and half wandering into a daydream.
“Batter up!” yelled the ump as I stood on the pitcher’s mound staring at home plate.  I slapped the ball into the pocket of my brand new, genuine leather Spalding baseball mitt.  Whap! It made contact as I studied the hand signals of the catcher behind the opposing team member cracking the bat against his cleated shoes.  I shook my head.  The catcher proposed a new signal.  It looked more promising to me with this batter.  I nodded. For a minute I looked around at the lead the runner on first had taken.  He quickly sidestepped back toward first.  I was satisfied.  I knuckled the ball as I began my windup.  All the power in my body went into that pitch and WHAP! It sliced through the batter’s swing and into the catcher’s mitt.  I smiled as he tossed it in a high arc back to me, the ump’s shout of “STIKE ONE!” echoing in my ear.
I caught it easily in the webbing of my glove.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught the runner edging off first.  I whipped around placing the ball directly into the glove of our first baseman.  The runner sprinted for second, missing it by a fraction of a second as the slap of hardball against leather sounded an instant before he was tagged.  The second out for our opponents.  The second baseman tossed the ball to me.
Now to strike this man out.  I leaned toward home plate watching the catcher’s fingers.  No.  He sent another signal. No to that as well.  I nodded to his third signal coiled my body and slipped that ball through the air right past the magic space into soft leather.
“STRIKE TWO!” yelled the umpire over the crowd’s roar.
I retrieved the ball after it was tossed from first to third to second.  Once again I leaned toward the plate and nodded to the first signal.  As I wound up to burn that ball across the plate the crowd was roaring “Rick-ey! Rick-ey!”
“Rickey! Son?! Are you alright?” My dad touched my shoulder waking me from my place on the mound.
“Huh? Uh, yes sir. Sorry,” I mumbled.  I looked up at the glove on the counter then at my dad.
“Couldn’t I please have my own glove?”
“Son, we can’t afford it right now.”  It was his only answer to my questions about buying something I wanted.
“What’s the matter,” asked my mother as she walked up to us carrying boxes under her arm.
“Oh, Rickey, wants me to buy some baseball glove.   I told him we can’t afford it.”
“Don’t you remember I told you he’s joined the Little League?” asked my mother.
“Little League? What’s that?”
“Baseball, daddy.  I got on the team.  That’s why I need my own glove.”
“Oh. You said you could borrow one, didn’t you?”  He was looking at me with a firm stare.
“Yes sir, I can, but …”
“Well no need to buy one then,” he answered.
“Yes sir,” came my usual disappointed answer.
“Dear, can’t we make an exception this time?  He did join up to play baseball.  Can’t we support him by getting the glove?”  It was my mother.  It was completely out of character.  Any time my dad put the kibosh on something it was totally kiboshed.  She was treading unsteady ground here.
“He said he could borrow one.  We don’t really have the money to buy another toy.”
I almost jumped in to say, it’s not a toy, but discretion and my mother’s quick look stopped me before I could ruin the moment.
“He wants to play baseball.  What better way to play than with his own glove?  If it’s the money I could cut some things from the grocery list for a few weeks.  The glove is only ten dollars.”
“That’s a lot of money for something frivolous.”
“Maybe so but to a child it isn’t frivolous.  Didn’t you want something as a child that your parents thought frivolous?”
Dad seemed to drift away.  A frown grew across his face. He nodded.
“Yes, I do.”
“You always said you wanted your son to have better than you.  Couldn’t we splurge a bit for him this time?  He went out especially to get on the team.  The other boys have their own gloves I bet.  It is baseball, after all, the American past time.”
“We had cricket.  I don’t know anything about baseball,” he said and it was so true.  He had no clue when he saw my baseball card collection.  He just shook his as he fanned them out like a deck of cards. 
“He would really feel more like a player with his own glove.”  My mother was fighting hard to bring him around.  I looked up pleadingly at my dad. He looked at me with that frown.
“You think you can juggle the grocery money?”
“Yes, I do.  Shall we let him get it?” She smiled at my dad.  He melted under that smile’s warmth.
“Well, if you think you can swing it.”
“I do,” said my mother.
Dad looked at me and nodded his head.  “Go ahead, son.  Get the glove.”
I had the glove in my hand and was standing in front of the cashier before they could change their minds.  Dad took out his wallet and counted out the price, then handed it to the lady behind the counter. I grabbed my glove and ran outside.  I couldn’t believe my dad had just bought me my own baseball mitt.  It was a rare occasion indeed.
My folks came through the door.  Dad looked at me the spoke in his hard voice.
“You need to thank you mother, son.  She is the one who will be finding the way to afford that thing.”
I wrapped my arms around my mother.  Holding her tight I said over and over, “Thank you, momma.  Thank you.  I’ll be the best player on the team.  I promise.”
I could see a tear in her eye as I looked up.  She looked down at me and said, “You just enjoy yourself.  You don’t have to be the best.  You just enjoy yourself.”
The bus was running when I got to the school.  The coach was counting the players as the got on board.
“Hurry up, boy!  We’re going to be late.  What’s your name?” he asked as I got on the bus.
“Rickey,” I answered waving my glove at my buddy.
“Last one,’ he said. “Alright Charlie take us to the game.”
I sat on the bench after my first time at bat.  The other team’s pitcher threw three sizzlers over home plate while I stood there with the bat on my shoulder.  My team mates kept yelling for me to swing the bat, just swing the bat.   I was out my first time at bat.  The coach decided I was a better bench warmer than player so for the entire season I warmed it.  I never even got to play my usual spot in the field during Little League games.  I was only an outfielder when my buddies were choosing up sides to play for fun.  At least I did when I was chosen.
My glove?  It stayed well-oiled and in the closet after my Little League career was finished which was one season on the bench.  My batting average was 000 and my RBI’s were zero.  It’s hard to make averages when you are mistaken for a football player.  I figured that was the problem since every time I left the bench to grab a bat the coach would yell, “Get your tail back!”  Not everybody can be a star, much less a player.
And, yet, my mother showed no disappointment in my baseball career.  Both my parents worked to make ends meet which meant they were never able to make it to any games.  I never understood at the time but with age…  My mother.  She has always been one in a million.  She always went to bat for me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

There is JOY in Mudville tonight

I love this place.
The thought trickled through my mind as I pedaled along the side of the road.  The air was warm as it passed over my body.  The cicadas filled the surrounding countryside with the buzz of joy at being above ground.  The flavor of honeysuckle mingled with the explosion of new growth  fragrances surrounding me and my Columbia.  The warm sun played across my face as I closed my eyes and rested my legs in a glide.
A horn snapped me from my reverie and I jerked the wheel to the right.  I bounced along the rutted patch bedside the macadam surface.  The car sped past giving me a wide berth.  I edged back onto the paved surface, my heart pounding.  Daydreaming on a bike is not a good thing.  Those cars can kill.  A dog barked from behind a fence paralleling the street.  I laughed at him, stood on the pedals and push with all my might.  My bike and I shot past as I leaned into the rush of warm wind.  In the distance I could see the waver of the air above warming tar as the road returned the heat captured into the air around it.  It almost looked like a lake.
My buddy’s house was just a few yards up the way.  His driveway made a steep climb into his yard which was two feet higher than the paved surface.  A car was approaching from the opposite direction but I knew I could make it with just one more hard push.  I stood again pumping with all my might and leaned into the turn. Up I went with the blast of a horn where I had been.  Seems that driver was going faster than I thought but I escaped whipping up and over the drive entrance onto the grass in front of the house.  I dropped my bike on the run to the front steps.
I knocked on the door.
My friend opened it.  His smile was broad and I entered.  His mother yelled a welcome from the kitchen to me.  I looked in and said hi.
“Care for a bite to eat?” she asked.  “I was just fixing breakfast.”
“No ma’am.  I ate before coming over.”
I sat in the living room reading the latest issue of Superman while they ate.  Lois was in trouble, again, and Superman was just about to jump into the air--she was falling, naturally—to catch her mid-fall when R came in wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
“Finished!  Ready to go?”
Leaving Lois halfway between the top of the Daily Planet and the sidewalk, I dropped the comic book on the end table.  We rushed to the door when R said,
“I got an idea.”
He ran into his room.  He carried some clothes pins and a deck of cards on his return.
“We’re gonna ride motorcycles today.”
“Here, take these.”  He handed me two playing cards and two clothes pins.  I followed him out to the bikes puzzled as to his intent.
“I saw this the other day.  Some kids in town were riding around making the motor sound on their bikes.  This is how they did it.”  He picked up his two-wheeler leaning it on his shoulder.  He bent one of the cards along the edge and attached it to the bar holding the fender to the wheel axis.  The far end poked into the spokes.  He did the same to the back wheel.
He had to show me how to provide enough of the card into the spokes since I folded it in the middle which fell short of the mark. 
“OK!  Let’s go!”  He jumped onto the seat and pushed off with a mighty thrust down on the pedal.  His bike made a roaring sound as it flew forward.  I looked on in admiration as my face lit up with a grin. 
Up, up, and away.  I leaned over the handlebars and pumped my legs hard in a clockwise direction.  The forward momentum took on speed and the cards in my spokes erupted into a loud roar.  I was blasting away when I hit the top of the driveway.  A slight jump brought me back to the surface with a clack of fender against body and the thrill of the wind brought out the wonder and excitement of being alive.  With a continuous roar my bike slipped from a forty-five degree angle down into the upright of road surface in a matter of seconds.  The street was free of traffic and open to the two of us burning up the surface and the air with our noise.  A wild “YEEHAH!” escaped my lungs which was answered by another from my buddy who was pedaling with all his might into a twenty mph run with the bursting of cardboard against spoke after spoke after spoke.  The reverberations matched the cicadas in volume.
“KEE YA KEE!” I yelled into the wind whipping my cheeks. 
“GERONOMO!” came an answering call.
Neither of us waited at the corner.  One after the other we whipped out into the road called Stono Shores flying to the right side.  There was no traffic, lucky for us, as we sidled up to the edge of the pavement.  I gave my legs an extra hard push as I rode up beside R.  We traveled, pushing our legs as fast as we could, like lightning.  The trees lining the ditch flew past us. 
Free on a summer’s morning before the sun beat down like an oven.  The air was still fresh with the cool of the night lingering.  Yet we could feel the heat promised by the sun’s climb into the arc of noon.  But what did that matter to two kids flying down an open road on “motorized” bicycles?  We were free!  The day was ours!  And we pedaled on.
The terrace was a focal point for all of us.  The school, RTS—fondly referred to as Rotten Tomato Soup, but in reality was Riverland Terrace School, our grammar school for the first six years we spent in the institution of learning—was the place to meet being centrally located.  There was a baseball diamond for those inclined to glove, bat, and ball.  There was the playground itself located to the right in a sandy area in the front of the old brick building.  The school yard itself was split down the middle by a sidewall leading to the fence that separated the school yard from the street in front.  As noted, the playground containing swings, monkey-bars, and see-saws lay to the right of the sidewalk.  The yard left of the sidewalk was paved up to the automobile entrance.  To the left of this entrance for cars was the basketball court.  Beyond that and deeper into the grounds was a tennis court and over to the left of that bicycle racks.  The afore mentioned baseball diamond lay to the left of the school building stretching out into the back area which could be used as a football field after baseball season.
We rattled in through the back gate which was wide enough for single file walk through.  Our roaring entrance to the yard was noticed by the kids batting a ball at home plate.  We pedaled through the sand. It slowed us down immediately. Jumping off our bikes we yelled hello to the batter.   Dropping our bikes we ran over to home plate.
“Hey guys!” R was enthusiastic about batting the ball to those in the field awaiting pop flies.  “Any chance we can play a game?”
The guy with the bat nodded, “If you two want to play we can choose up sides.  We got enough now for four each.”
“Come on in guys!  We’re gonna choose up sides.”  The boys with gloves ran in toward the plate.  “You want to choose?”  He spoke to R.
“Yeah, let’s pick our players.”  And so it would start.  When I was standing alone after the choosing had been done, R finally said, “OK, Rickey, you’re with us.”  His reluctance was noticed.
We took to the field, since the bat and ball and gloves belonged to the guys here first.
“Can I borrow your glove?” I asked J.  He tossed it underhanded.  With fumbling gestures I finally got it under control and headed out.
“You take right field, Rickey,” said R as I ran toward first. 
“I thought maybe I’d try first base this ti…,” I said.
“Nah, E will take care of that.  You run on out to right field.”
Once again, I was relegated to right field.  Nothing ever happened in right field.  I usually stood out there watching all the action but never being in the middle of it.  Oh well.  It was a pretty day.  The sun wasn’t too hot yet and the cicadas were loud as they could be.  It was the perfect atmosphere to drift away on some fantastical trip known as a day dream which I did immediately.  I was in full flight upward into the warm flowing air alongside the Daily Planet eying the distance above where Lois was plummeting to her death.  But not this time as I cut through the air screaming upward arms out stretched to catch her midair…
“Rickey!!”  Several voices were yelling my name.  I snapped out of my day dream, Lois would have to plummet to her death or wait fixed in the air. 
What?  What were they screaming about?  I looked where they were pointing. It was a pop fly!  It was racing towards me!  Me! In right field!  What do I do!?  It was heading straight for me!
As protection I put my glove up to block out the ball.  As it happened I placed my glove in such a position that the ball slapped into the leather pocket.  My fingers closed automatically trapping it.
“You’re out!” I heard someone near the plate yell. 
“I’m out?” I mumbled to myself.  Then I realized, the ball was in my glove.  I had caught it!  What would normally have been a homerun for the batter was an out.  Wow! I caught it.
“Great catch, Rickey!” I heard it repeated several times.  Some of the kids were running out to slap me on the back.  “You done good.  J is out.  You got him out.  He’s ticked.”
Oh, great, I thought.  Now I have the star athlete mad at me.
“Come on in fellas.  Our time at bat.”
“Come on, Rickey.  We get to bat now.”
I tossed the glove to J, who was scowling at me, as I ran to home plate.  Everybody was all smiles and slapping me on the back with congratulations.  It was a heck of a feeling.
The first three up slammed the ball out to left field.  And then it was my turn.  R tossed the bat to me. It clattered to the red clay at my feet.  I picked it up and whacked it against the side of each shoe like I had seen the players on TV do.  At the plate I leaned it against my leg as I stooped to pick up some dirt.  I rubbed it into my hands like I had seen so many other kids do, for what reason I hadn’t a clue.  Then I hefted it to my shoulder just a couple of inches high. I stood like a coiled spring ready to unleash fury on the hide covered sphere.  That was baseball talk which sent my mind on another day dream.  I awoke to that hide covered sphere burning across the plate into the catcher’s hand.
“Stee-rike ONE!”
“Choke up on the bat!” said the voice behind me.  I also heard some groaning and complaining about somebody being the worst baseball player alive but I couldn’t think about that because the pitcher was into his windup.  I cocked back ready to let loose the fury of…  The ball whistled past into the leather protected hand behind me.
“Stee-rike TWO!”
The moaning and groaning behind me grew.
“The bases are loaded.  Swing the damned bat!”
Damned?  Someone yelled damned in the playground?  I lowered the bat and looked behind me.  The ball tagged the bat and sailed behind the plate.  Stunned I looked down.
“Ball one!” someone yelled.
“You still got a chance!  Clobber it!”
Once more my steely eye lit upon the pitcher who was lifting the ball to his glove.  He nodded.  He wound around and sent the ball flying straight at me.  I jumped back.
“Ball two!”
“Come on, Croucher!  Hit the ball!”
“Hell!  Just swing the damned bat!”
Once more I heard cursing but refused to give it credence with a glance.  Instead my bat, choked to death, rose above my shoulder.  My body became a mighty spring once again.  I was wound tight.  I watched the ball leave the pitcher’s hand.  All of a sudden I knew it was mine.  The bat left my shoulder slicing through the air.  The might of my swing was met with the loudest crack I’ve ever heard.  The ball sailed past the second baseman.  He missed it since he was staring in shock at me. It bounced into the outfield.  The outfielder was daydreaming, which all outfielders had a tendency to do when I was at bat, and missed the ball as it rolled quickly past him.
His team was screaming at him to throw the ball.  My team mates were screaming just as loud at me to run.  I ran.  I hit first and they continued to yell. The guys on second and third had rounded through home plate.  The player on the base ahead of me was touching third and headed to home when the outfielder finally realized his team mates were yelling at him.  He scrambled for the ball and fell into the sticker bushes that grew wild out there.  When he got up and threw the ball I had just touched third.  I slowed but everybody at home was yelling for me to run.  And I did.  The ball was high in the air.  My feet were churning up the red clay dirt leaving a trail like fire ablaze in my tracks.  The ball caught by gravity arced down.  The catcher stood on home plate, mitt in the air waiting patiently.  It closed with the glove.  I closed with home plate.  Neck and neck.  I slid.  My back pocket ripped away from my jeans.  I heard the ball thwap into the glove.  At the same time I heard, “SAFE!”
That’s when the argument began.  Everybody crowded around the boy who had yelled safe.  The scuffing of feet, the waving of hands, curse words fouling the air filled the playground all at once.  But the decision had been made. I had been called safe.  We had four runs.  It was our ball game.  And, yet, since it was me that had actually hit the ball, it was a controversial game.  I doubt seriously if anybody else remembers that game that summer long ago except me.
Then, again, it may be the game of my left field daydream.  Who knows?  Memory often takes on a life of its own.  That may be the case here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's a pirate's life for me...

Robin Hood slashed his way through the King’s soldiers in a straight path to the Sheriff of Nottingham.  The clang of metal on metal rang through the stone castle.  Parry and thrust to slip solidly into the midsection of the man in front of him.  A hard pull backward and he falls to aged floor.  A shadow caught his eye.  His arm moved up and to the left as the sheriff sliced downward with his broad sword, both hands clutching the handle in a death grip on its arc downward. The clang echoed through the hallway ratcheting along Robin’s weapon into his arm with a resounding quiver of bone and flesh.  The blade nearly fell from his hold.  He fell backward with a cry.  The Sheriff advanced seeing the advantage by swiftly slicing to the side.  Robin’s control came back in a flash as his body automatically moved to deflect the heavy blade.  The Sheriff moved aggressively forward beating Robin back step by step ever waiting to for that mortal opening.  His foe, barely keeping the steel from its butchery, moved in whirling the blade into ever closer contact. Robin feinted to the right. The Sheriff’s sword automatically swung into its advantage but met air.  Our hero had slipped through that mighty swing and leapt upon the stone stairway.  His enemy’s sword sounded against the floor as Robin jumped again to a point behind the man recovering his weapon.
“Hold!” cried Robin.
The Sheriff considered his cry, turned to seek the mortal spot only to be halted by the jab of Robin’s sword at his chest.  The leather, cleanly sliced, became wet with blood…
“Rick!  What are you doing?”
“Huh?”  It was Clyde waking me with a start.
“I was…uh…just about to slay the Sheriff of Nottingham.”
“Robin Hood? Again?”
“Yeah. I like Robin Hood.”
“Maybe you do but do you have to always be Robin Hood.  What about a pirate.  Remember?  We saw Treasure Island last week.”
My mother had dropped us off at the theater to see Treasure Island the week before.  It was good, but Robin in Sherwood held my imagination.
“Treasure Island was good,” I agreed, “but Robin was English.”
“Well so were the pirates.  Didn’t you hear Long John Silver’s accent?  Arrgh, miteys.  Shiver me timbers and a bottle o’ rum.  Besides on the wall, there, is a pirate.  Cutlass and all.”
It was true.  On the wall was a pencil drawing done by my uncle, three of them, actually.  A hardy soul, one eye patched and a tricorn hat atop a bandanaed head stood dark against the light wall.  His face was fierce.  His cutlass, menacing.  And beside him was drawn a voluptuous pirate of the female persuasion.  She stood in dark shorts fit over shapely legs seemingly reaching for miles.  Her bosoms, Clyde had informed me of what bosoms were, were lightly clad with a low cut peasant’s blouse.  Her black hair tantalizingly rolled over her shoulders onto the soft contours…
“Hey!” yelled Clyde.  “You going into a trance?  You act like you’ve never seen these wall drawings.”
Actually I hadn’t until that moment and suddenly I wanted to be a pirate and find this woman, who to me had become, not a pirate, but a damsel in distress taken from her plantation on the shores of Carolina in the year sixteen hundred and something. 
“OK.  I want to be a pirate.  We need to save this lovely creature.  She’s in need of saving.  Shall we go?”
Clyde looked at me.  It was an odd look but he quickly changed, shouting along with me. 
“Yes!  To ship! Set sail for the Island of Treasure!” he yelled jumping onto the mattress, grabbing the bedpost and leaning over the edge.  I could see the salty spray of the ocean soak him as he watched the horizon.
“Go below, Schmee, and search out our cutlasses.  I see a ship on yon horizon.  We will board her.  Away to the armory for our weapons.”
“Hey!  Don’t call me Schmee.  That’s Cap’n Hook’s first mate in Peter Pan.  That’s a cartoon.  Treasure Island was real.  I wanna be Hawkins.”
“Quiet, Hawkins.  We don’t want to scare off the ship laden with treasure to our port side.  Away man.  Bring us our weapons.”
“Aye Cap’n Silver. Hey Clyde.”
“Yeah, mitey?”
“We don’t have cutlasses.  Could we, maybe, use Uncle Charles’ swords?”
“They are called fencing foils and I don’t know.  He might not like it.  Don’t we have some sticks?”
“Maybe but they won’t give the sound of metal like a real sword.  Come on.  We won’t hurt ‘em and he’ll never know once we put them back.”
“Well….  OK.  Get the weapons, mitey”
Happy as a lark I raced into the closet and pulled out two fencing epees.   I placed my hand behind the guard.  I swiped at the air criss-crossing an imaginary foe.   I moved like lightning just as Robin had done on the stone stairs battling The Sheriff. 
“Cut it out, Hawkins!  Bring me mine and steady on now.  The ship approaches.  Stand to shipmates!” he yelled across the bow of the bed.
I slipped my sword through the loop in my pants.  It dangled at my side. 
“Ready Cap’n.”  I stood beside the bed.
  “HEY! I don’t want to be standing in the sea,” I said.  “I want to be next to the mast.”
“That’s the Cap’n’s spot. Not the crews’.  You’re not in the sea. You’re standing on the gunnel.  That’s where you have to be to throw the grappling hooks.”
So I crouched along the side of the bed awaiting my chance to board the ship that was coming aport, according to Clyde.
“Ready with the grappling hooks!”
I grabbed the imaginary hooks and began to twirl the rope over my head.
“NOW!  Throw and pull!”
The weight of the hook circling my head I launched over the side.  It caught the railing and I pulled with all my heart.
The crew went over the side.  I scrambled with them.  My feet hit the deck of the prize ship.  My sword was in my hand and I tugged at it to get it free of my scabbard.  The blade was too long for my arms. I had to grasp the blade and continue pulling it upward. Hand over hand until it was free from my belt loop, uh, its scabbord.  Once free I tossed it straight up to catch the handle.
Clyde became a member of the crew of the ship to be plundered---since it was only the two of us on this adventure, we had to jump sides. 
“Avast, mitey,” he said.  “You shall die by my blade.”
“Not on your life!”  I yelled. We circled one another our swords whipping the air. 
I lunged.  He parried. He knocked my blade aside driving his steel to my midsection.  Being a squirrely youngster I dodged and hacked at this weapon.  I swiped at his thrust with overly zealous cracks of steel against steel.
“OW!” he yelped.  “Not me, you bozo.  The sword! The sword!”
“Sorry.  I won’t do it again.”  I backed off looking for an entrance to deliver the point of death.  In his moment of pain he left himself open.  My arm extended forward, my body following, shoving the tip within inches of his side.  He stepped away like a matador, the tip of my weapon grazing his shirt.
“Too close, varlet!” He moved in with a ringing of steel as he deflected my instrument of death.  He whirled around me bringing his mortal sting along my right side but reflexes dealt a swift deflection and my death once again was avoided.
Once again we circled one another.  I noticed a red welt on his arm where my sword had whacked it.  It must have hurt because he was paying more attention to that than my movements.  And there it was my chance to split his gullet.  I lunged with all my might.  His move was lightning fast.  I missed him completely.  He looked triumphant at having cheating death once more. I saw his smirk.  Then I heard the SNAP!
We both looked in the direction of the sound.  My sword had bent double in the side of the bed.  The bend was quick and bowed by the weight of my small frame, hardly enough to do harm I thought, but the snap was the sound of the blade breaking.  The first four inches of my sword lay on the floor after bouncing to a standstill.  What I held in my hand was a fencing foil slightly bent and short by those four inches. 
Clyde lost the triumphant look of escaping death.  He looked at me.  He looked at the sword and then me again.  He looked at his weapon and with a quick flip of the wrist divested himself of sword and any activity with it.  He walked away quickly to the front room and grabbed a comic book.
My days as a pirate were over.  I had broken one of my uncle’s prized possessions.  I was alone with the broken foil in hand.  And, as it happened, that was the moment my grandmother came through the back door with a bag of groceries.  Clyde was up and in the kitchen before I could say, “Hello Grandmother.”
He was out to the car and grabbing bags to bring back in.
I still had the weapon in my hand as I walked into the kitchen.
“Rickey, what have you done now?  You know your uncle doesn’t want you playing with his things.  And those are not toys.”
Clyde came through the door with a bag in each arm.  He looked at me.  His grin glinted white teeth.
“Hey, nef.  What are you doing with my brother’s fencing piece?  I told you not to touch that.”
“You see, young man.  Clyde knows not to play with those.”
“Oh, Rickey,” said Clyde through his grin.  “What did you do?  That sword is too short and where is the safety piece on the point?  You broke it, didn’t you?”
“What?” said my Grandmother, “See here, young man!  Give that to me.”
She took the blade from my hand. 
“Go sit on the couch and don’t move.  Clyde, what am I going to tell your brother.  Can’t you watch Rickey closer?  You oughten’t to let him get his hands on Charles’ things."
“I know, momma.  He was in the other room and I got caught up in my Blackhawk comic.  It won’t happen again.’
I caught the twinkle in his eye as I turned the corner into the living room. I fell on the couch. I picked up my Robin Hood Classics Illustrated Comic and dived into the world of Sherwood.
“ Maid Marian here I come to save you,” I said quietly.