The Cast: Erich (Tiger), Myself (Casey Jones), Richard (the target).
As the car speed away—rapidly transporting our target—Tiger and I had to reconsider how we were to get our hands on Richard.
There’s an often-used theatrical trope where a band of battle-hardened brothers must turn on one of their own. You can often see it coming. One character has a mysterious past or have an action taken that would have dispersions cast upon it, and then the group would subtly turn on that one person. I used to think that was a ridiculous theme, a sometimes overly used construct, used to misdirect the audience from the plot. I used to.
A typical Friday night for Erich, Richard, and myself, would find us in crime-fighting costume, patrolling the dark and sinister streets of our little town. But this Friday night found this typical trio as a singular duo (I know what I wrote). See, we couldn’t find Richard. He just wasn’t around. Now, for those of you that are thinking, “Why didn’t you just call his phone?” you need to realize something very important: We did. Okay, that is not the important thing. The important thing to know is that cell phones weren’t common back then. So, when I say that Erich and I called Richard’s phone, that means that we called his house—a LAN line. And, if he wasn’t home, then there wasn’t a way to find him (three decades ago you had to make an real effort to find a body).
Well, the evening drew close, and our plans of patrol would continue—regardless of numbers.
On that particular evening, Erich put on his regular alter ego of Tiger, while I geared up as one of my alternate egos: Casey Jones (maybe all those secret identities are why I have multiple personality disorder? No, you don’t. Okay, thank you.). It didn’t take long before we were ready to fight crime. Little did we know at the time, but later that night, we would be pursuing one of our own. Life can turn on a dime, so it seems.
As Tiger and I moved about the darkness of the streets and yards, we found that we encountered all the norms: Almost zero activity (civilians), no criminal activity (typical)…
“Wait? Is that a car?”
“Yeah. Quick, off to the shadows.”
We had been walking down the middle of the road, as there was no need to hide our position. Nothing was going on anyway—it almost never did. Manti was (still is) a quiet town. Simple life. Now—as would happen on occasion that we would do this, a vehicle decided to use the correct path of transport: The Street (rude). So, we dodged the headlights of the oncoming car and ducked into some nearby shrubbery. As it sped past (at a whopping 25 mph), Tiger and I both noticed the same thing: The car. We knew that car.
The car was a 1976, blue, Plymouth Volare, with hot-pink double windshield wipers. There was only one vehicle in town with hot-pink (double or otherwise) windshield wipers: Richard’s.
To understand the significance of the hot-pink double windshield wipers you need to understand two things: The first is that it was the early ‘90s and neon colors were “in”, big time. Or to put it in a more contemporary way, they were trending. The second thing that you need to know is that this was Richard. And Richard had personality. So, what would make a windshield more clean than just one wiper? TWO! On each arm! Twice the wipe, half the per! And what would make an older station wagon look all hip and cool more than hot-pink accessories? Nothing! The logic isn’t flawed, and yet… Yes. Yes, it was.
As the Volare passed us by Tiger and I only caught a glimpse of who was in the car. It appeared to be one, or maybe two, people. One sort of looked like it maybe could have been Richard, possibly. Only one way to find out. Tiger and I ran out into the middle of the street to wave down the car. And that’s when the Plymouth sped up and disappeared down that dark, lonely, and now quieter, street.
“What just happened?”
“I dunno? Maybe that wasn’t Richard.”
“No, he was in the car. I saw him.”
“Was he driving?”
“I-I’m not sure.”
See, we wanted to ensure that the driver would see us, so, we ran out into the street waving our arms—and also our ‘arms’. Tiger had his twin swords, I had a hockey goalie stick, and we were exaggeratingly waving them about to try and attract the attention of those within the station wagon. We were pretty sure that we saw Richard in the vehicle, and given the hour, he was probably driving, so, we thought it was a smart maneuver. Well, it didn’t work. We weren’t seen.
Well, since we knew Richard was headed home, we figured we would just head on over to his place and get him to suit up and join us. Perfect. What could go wrong?
For those that are unfamiliar with karma, never ask that question. It’s a bad question. A very bad question.
The sojourn to Richard’s wasn’t long, we were only a few blocks away, yet, as we drew nearer, we slowed down. Richard’s home was the last house on the street, and as the street ended, a dirt trail began. In a small town that sits at the base of a mountain, you get all sorts of unique roadways and paths. Additionally, in a home nearby lived a late-night voyeur. On more than one occasion Richard had chased the guy out of his yard—as the pervert was looking into Richard’s sister’s windows hoping to catch a glimpse of what he ought not. So, Tiger and I moved in stealthily to see if that unsavory character—Bob—might be lurking about.
We had plenty of approach options to choose from, as there was plenty of open property around the Sanderson’s home. Even so, we opted for a more direct route and came up on the other side of the family’s garden. As we drew near the Sanderson homestead we couldn’t help but notice that in the front yard there was an armed sentry.
“Is that Richard?”
“Does he have a gun?”
“I don’t know. I just got here, same as you.”
Upon our approach past the woodpile and toward the lettuce and tomatoes, we tried to discern exactly what type of firearm the guard had in his grip. ‘Twas none other than ‘Old Blue’. You know, from the 1983 holiday classic, A Christmas Story?
Say it with me now, “ No, no, I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.” And, Richard was a dead-shot with it. Once, he pegged that Peeping Tom, Bob, right in his ‘Peeping Tom’. At night. When it’s dark. So, deadly firearm or not, we knew he could hit us—and it would hurt.
“I can see you. Come on out.” Came the command.
Tiger and I seeing that Richard was not facing us directly, but looking off to our left, we suspected that he might be talking to Bob. We both looked that way also, to see if we might spot him.
“I’m talking to you two idiots. Don’t make me have to shoot you. You know I can.”
Oh, he meant us. Stupid.
“Hey, Richard. What’s up?” Came our nervous greeting. “What’s with the gun? Bob about?”
“No. It’s for you two. Why were chasing my mom?”
“What?!? NO!” “We didn’t do that!” “When did we do that?” “We didn’t do that!” “Did we do that?”
Remember earlier, when I said that we waved our weapons about in an attempt to flag down the Volare and that the driver didn’t see us? Yeah, we were wrong about that second part. The driver saw us. That’s why the car drove away—faster.
“So that wasn’t you chasing my car just a few minutes ago?”
“Well, yeah. That was us. But, we were trying to get you to stop.”
“I wasn’t driving! That was my mom. She thought she was going to get robbed or attacked or something. You idiots.”
“Ooh, so that’s why you didn’t stop.” “Sorry.”
In our defense, it was dark, and it was very hard to tell who was driving. And, it turns out, waving swords and sticks in a friendly greeting can easily be misunderstood as brandishing violently when viewed from a different perspective, like, for example, late at night, on a dark, quiet road, when the people ‘waving’ are wearing masks.
“You two swinging your swords and stuff… I should shoot you anyways.”