Fighting the Bad Guys
New Friends and Old Acquaintances
Fighting the Bad Guys
Eli was running through the woods near his house. It was late July in the northwest. Clickety clack went his wooden sword as it bounced of the branches he was fighting along the way. His off hand was equipped with his plastic superhero shield, left over from a Halloween costume from three years ago. He was so involved in his fight to save the ancient kingdom of Arcdale that he didn’t realize he was running out of woods to run through. Eli ran and jumped delivering a fatal blow to the demon lord Akaba. At the same time, he breached the Wood line. He realized he had run clean out of the woods. Eli was standing in the field of the high school track and field running track. There was something familiar here. He paused a moment and looked around as he snapped back to reality.
Eli was turning to go back to the woods and fight off another horde of branches, when he heard someone say, “Hey over here.” He looked but saw nothing. He heard it again. Curious he walked toward the voice. It was coming from the parking lot. Eli kept walking towards the sound. The voice was getting clearer. “Over here.” the voice rang again. Eli was right on top of it now, but no one was to be seen. “Look down.” The voice said. There was a storm drain with a large metal grate over it and two eyes looking up at him. “Get the top off so I can get out.” It seemed to be a boy. Ten or eleven years old. About the same age as Eli. “Hey!” He shouted. “Help me out of here.” Eli tried to pull the heavy metal grate, but it would not budge. It had been so long since anyone removed it. Eli stomped and kicked at the rusted piece of metal knocking some sediment loose. They both pushed and pulled this time. At last, it broke free. The boy pulled himself up and climbed out.
“How did you get down there?” Eli asked.
“I don’t know.” The boy replied kind of indifferently.
“Where are you from? Eli continued.
“I don’t know.” He answered again.
“How do you not know?” Eli said crinkling his brow.
The Boy shrugged.
“You don’t know where you’re from or how you got here or why you’re here.
“I know why I’m here.”
Eli looked at the boy inquisitively. They boy Just looked back
“Well?” He asked impatiently.
“You called me here.” The boy answered
“No, I didn’t.” Eli protested
“Yes, you did”
“No, I didn’t”
“Yes, you did”
“I don’t even know you?”
“So how would I call you”
“I don’t know. I was just there, and I heard a voice calling me and then I ended up here. It was your voice.” The boy answered.
“I don’t even know your name.” Eli still protesting the accusation.
The boy just stared at Eli.
“So, what is your name?”
“I don’t know.” The boy said nonchalantly.
He stared at the boy in a state of bewilderment.
The boy just stared back.
Eli eyed him curiously and said, “I should be getting back.”
“OK” The boy said.
Eli turned and started walking to the woods. He took a few steps and notice the strange boy was following him.
“What are you doing?” Eli asked.
“I don’t know, what are you doing?” The boy answered.
“Going home.” Eli answered back.
“Then, I’m going home.” The boy proudly stated.
“Ok” Eli said unsure.
“OK” The boy echoed.
Eli narrowed his eyes trying to reason what was happening. He turned to walk back to the wood line and the boy began to follow again.
“I thought you were going home.” Eli said.
“I am.” The boy answered
“OK” Eli said unsure all over again.
“OK” The boy Echoed.
Eli started walking again and again the boy followed.
“Where are you going?” Eli said frustratedly.
“Home.” The boy answered plainly.
“Is your home this way?” Eli asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Oh my gosh what are you talking about? how do you not know where you’re from or what you name is or how you got here or here or where you’re going?” Eli asked rhetorically
“I know how I got here. You called me, and I know where I’m going. I’m going home.” The boy said proud of himself all over again.
Eli said nothing and just started back home. As they walked through the woods Eli thought maybe something was wrong with his brain and his family was probably looking for him.
“Do you live with your Mom?” Eli asked
“She’s the one that takes care of you.” Eli said, thinking maybe he didn’t understand rather than not know.
“What do you mean take care of me?”
“You know like she cooks you pancakes and tells you to clean your room and stuff.”
“What are pancakes? What’s a room? What’s Mom?”
“Your one strange kid.” He paused a moment. Then said, “You got to have name.”
“What’s your name?” The boy asked.
“Eli, I’m Eli.” He said kind of sheepishly realizing he never introduced himself.
“OK Eli” the boy said.
“How bout I just call you Thomas. He’s the main character in the book series I’m reading.”
“OK” The Boy answered. “I am Thomas, and I am going home.” he said triumphantly.
It made Eli laugh then Thomas started to laugh.
Eli puffed his chest out and declared, “I am Eli, and I am going home!” Then Thomas made the declaration of home again and they both started to laugh harder this time.
Hey, do you want to pretend to be warriors and fight evil? Eli asked Thomas.
“Yes, I do. What’s a warrior and what’s evil and how do we fight it?”
“Geez, um well, just take this stick and hit the branches like this. Just pretend they’re the bad guys.”
Eli proceeded to show Thomas how to attack branches and bushes the rest of the way home. Thomas was getting quite good at it. Even yelling things like, “Have at ye knave” and “Out-numbered again, just the way I like it.” He was a natural tree branch fighting warrior. The boys laughed and fought until finally they came to the edge of the wood where Eli’s house stood. Eli froze and pulled at Thomas’ arm.
“Wait” he said. “We can’t go in yet.”
“Why can’t we go in home yet?” Thomas asked.
“Because moms not home”
“Not now Thomas, we have to sneak and see if dad is asleep”
“What’s dad and how do we sneak”
“Just follow me.”
“OK Eli,” Thomas said trustingly
The boys snuck around the side of the house where his dad’s room was. Eli peered in the window. He could see the lump that was his dad sleeping as he often would for days. Usually, he would be manic and awake for days before crashing. Mom said just stay away from him when he was like that. This was the first time he saw his dad sleep in days. So, he should be out for a while.
“OK, the coast is clear, but we have to sneak through the window to the basement. Our doors are squeaky, and I don’t want to risk it.”
“OK.” Thomas said conveying a confidence and trust in Eli.
The boys crawled through the basement window and into a bedroom with a TV on dresser and a desk in the corner.
“This is my brother’s room.”
Eli took a deep breath. “Hold that thought Thomas. I am going to get some food. I’ll be right back.”
“What’s-“ Thomas began to ask, but Eli interrupted. “No more questions just wait here.”
Eli returned with two bologna sandwiches. “Are you hungry? Never mind. Just eat the food like this.” Eli motioned and then took a bite to demonstrate.” Thomas looked at him. “Go ahead its just bologna and bread.”
Thomas took a bite and his eyes lit up. “I like bologna and bread.”
Eli chuckled. “It’s alright, I guess.”
“This is my brother’s room he has to stay with my aunt because he and my dad keep fighting.”
“What’s a brother? what’s dad?”
“OK, hold on I got something for you while I was upstairs.” Eli reached over and grabbed a laptop and put it on the desk. Eli opened it and started typing. He told Thomas “This will answer any questions you have about anything. Maybe we can find your parents on here.”
Thomas’ eyes lit up again. “I think like that thing Eli.”
“Yea they’re pretty cool. You can play games and listen to music.”
“Oh man! I can answer that.” Eli typed something into the keyboard and some strange sound emitted for the laptop. It felt good, really good. Thomas’ body started to move. Eli laughed at him, but Thomas didn’t care. Then Thomas stopped and said, “What’s Mom?” Rather soberingly.
Eli started to type again as Thomas watched. Eli began to read off the screen, “Mom short for Mother, a female parent.”
“Mom a female parent.” Thomas said still unsure of the answer.
The boys played some games and listened to some more music. Eli snuck more food. It was late. His mom must have got tied up at the hospital pulling a double shift again. Thomas was getting the hang of the computer. Eli was feeling sleepy.
“Thomas I am going to sleep.”
“OK Eli” Thomas said still staring at the laptop.
“Good night, Thomas.”
“OK Eli.” Thomas said without taking his eyes of the computer.
The next day
Eli woke up groggy and looked around. He had almost forgot Thomas. When he noticed that he was still staring at the computer.
“Did you get any sleep last night?” Eli Asked
“No not really. Did you sleep well Eli?” Thomas asked.
Something seemed very different about Thomas.
“Um, yea, I slept pretty good.” Eli answered a little unnerved.
“Why did you bring me here Eli?”
“I, I didn’t. I told you already.”
“Yes, you did. You called my here. You conjured me from somewhere. Your computer can’t answer any questions I have about anything.”
“Well, I suppose it can’t answer anything.”
“But you said, this will answer any questions I have about anything.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to- “
“Didn’t mean to what?” Thomas interrupted. “Bring me here. Take me from what I was. Turn me into whatever I am now.” Thomas said seething.
“I didn’t, I don’t know how to do those things, I’m sorry.”
“You are sorry.” Thomas said “You’re a sorry little kid, with a schizophrenic dad and an absent workaholic Mother. Yea I finally know what mom is. She’s not here.” Thomas was yelling now and shaking Eli by his shirt. Thomas pushed Eli up against the wall so hard the back of his head bounced off the sheet rock. The way his dad used to do.
“Stop it.” Eli begged. “Why are you doing this?”
“No Eli, why are you doing this?” Thomas said bursting into tears. Thomas was screaming at him now. “You brought me here now send me back.” Thomas punched a hole in the wall right next to Eli’s face. Still screaming. “You brought me here now send me back. I don’t like this game.” Thomas threw Eli to the side and began punching holes in the wall. Sheet rock dust flying with every swing he took. “I don’t want to fight the bad guys anymore. I don’t want to fight the evil.” Thomas said losing steam and falling back into the chair at the desk. Through tears streaming down his face and blood streaming from his knuckles he asked, “Why am I so angry? Why do I feel so helpless?”
Eli brushed the sheet rock dust from his shirt and gained his composure. “It doesn’t get easier Thomas. Some days you transcend, and you feel great.” Eli looked down at the blood streaming from his own knuckles and said, “Sometimes reality is overarching. Sometimes you realize you’re a grown man talking to an imaginary friend. Sometimes you realize your brother isn’t at your aunt’s house. He’s been gone a long time. You realize you’re in your old room still scared of your Schizophrenic dad even though he has been committed for years. You realize you will never be able to completely forgive you Mother for hiding from all of it behind her work.”
When Eli looked back at the desk Thomas was gone. The room was completely empty. The wall full of holes. The house had been abandoned for years. “I don’t want to fight the bad guys anymore either” He thought.