Hats Off to the Hardy Adventurer

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Hats Off to the Hardy Adventurer

Travel develops a man’s mind, especially his imagination.” -unknown

Excitement and far off places were only dreams for some pieces of clothing.  For the brown fedora, they were a part of everyday life.  The brown fedora had survived tropical storms as they had whipped and battered it, but never succeeding in removing it entirely from its owner’s head.  The scorching sun had beaten down on the brown fedora’s brim, forcing the explorer to take off the hat for a moment.  However that was only to wave the brown fedora back and forth as a makeshift fan.  The brown fedora was rugged, intrepid, and had lived a life that all the other denizens of the local haberdashery envied.

Pic from Wikipedia

The credit belonged to the owner.  He was an archaeologist and a respected one at that.   Even when teaching his college courses he managed to drag traces of the sand and mud of the world with him.  The girls in their tiny desks would forego their notes so that they wouldn’t have to take their eyes off the man.  His self-mocking tone and passion for adventure held their attention up until that very last minute of the class when the young admirers reluctantly left his magnetic presence.  Any hat that resided on the head of this exciting individual had to maintain an element of mystique at all times.  Fortunately for the brown fedora, it reveled in such demands.

If the brown fedora had been tossed aside whenever trouble arose, it might not have loved the archaeologist as much as it did.  Though somehow, the man always seemed to keep the brown fedora nearby.  When an ancient tomb wall was slamming down and poisonous projectiles were flying through the air with deadly intent, the owner still took a few precious moments to grab for the brown fedora and hurriedly replace it atop his hair.  When the man rushed through a raging river and the rain was pouring down on him, he continued to cling to the brown fedora.  The hat dripped and ran dark with endless moisture.  It could not fulfill its purpose of keeping the great explorer dry.  Yet the owner only shook off the excess water and wore it once again.

There had been fires.  A windstorm had thrown debris and sand all around.  Lightning had lit up the creases and wrinkles which had been added to the brown fedora with years of harsh living.  And of course, there was the relentless desert heat that faded and tormented the brown fedora.  In spite of all that, the man’s treasured accessory showed up for each trek across the globe.

The fun times about town had been plentiful too.  When strutting around shirtless for his cherished mate, the scrappy man had doffed his shirt but kept the brown fedora on.  Later, when the man and his mate strolled across the campus, he in his suit and she in her white dress and her own lovely hat; the brown fedora continued to look rugged and stalwart in the afternoon sun.  Walking around the cool halls of academia, the brown fedora knew that the professor would place it on the highest perch and let it take in the sights.

Yet, with all the risks that the pair had weathered, there remained a jealousy that the brown fedora could not escape.  There was another that hogged the spotlight.  The brown fedora felt that its role as a head-coverer was responsible for at least part of the man’s coolness.  The brown fedora thought that it brought enough style and practicality to the globe-trotting that the man wouldn’t need any other accessories.  The owner felt differently.  For while the brown fedora got to ride along every day in any region, he knew that the man depended on another item when things really got tight.  The brown fedora didn’t make any fascinating sound effects, not like that ratty old rope did.  The brown fedora couldn’t escape the truth.  If the seeker of artifacts were to tell of his most valuable tool of the trade, the brown fedora was well aware that the owner valued his bullwhip over everything else.  That included the always loyal brown fedora.

Stanley’s Super-Heroic Feat

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Stanley’s Super-Heroic Feat

Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero.  Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us.  Everybody loves a hero.” –Spider-Man 2

Stanley didn’t like change.  He didn’t like it when he was out of his favorite chocolate-crusted flaky cereal and had to settle with “boring ol’” puffed rice.  (The inclusion of freshly sliced strawberries wasn’t enough; Stanley’s breakfast needed chocolate.)    Stanley didn’t like it when his favorite rocket-ship pajamas were being washed.  Once upon a time he might have been okay with robot pajamas, but those could never be as cool as his rocket ship pajamas.  As he often pointed out to anyone who he thought might listen, the rocket ship ones has padded feet.  Stanley liked things how he liked them.  He was not a child who ran off with a backpack full of treasures to seek out far away perils.  He liked his own little world the way it was.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Stanley’s parents were not looking forward to telling him about the move.  Stanley’s father had been transferred to Arizona, which meant leaving behind their New York lives.  They had some family out in California, but they knew it would be a challenge to adjust their son to a life without the friends and loved ones he’d known all his life.  Even at eight years old, Stanley had become very accustomed to the way things were.

Knowing that they couldn’t put it off any longer, the parents fed Stanley his favorite dinner of macaroni and cheese.  They hoped that the familiar taste and a gentle approach would help smooth things over.  Stanley, forgetting the table manners that had been instilled in him, played with his favorite action figure.  He kept putting down his fork and turning his thoughts to the super-hero in his hand that he was flying and vrooming over the plate.

“Stanley”, his mother said.  “We need you to put down your toy and listen to us for a minute.”

Stanley was perplexed.  He wasn’t sure what could possibly be more important than zooming over mountains to save people.  Still, he stopped moving the toy about and held it with both his hands in front of him.

“Stanley”, his father began, “we’re going to be moving to a new house.”  Immediately Stanley’s father could see the worry consume his son’s face.  “It’s going to be okay, though.”

“We’re just going to take everything and put it somewhere else”, Stanley’s mom offered.  “All your toys, your father and I; we’ll all be together.  We’re just going to it all in a different house.

“Where?”  It was all Stanley could say. 

“Do you remember Uncle Frank?” Stanley’s father asked.  “We went out to see him two years ago?”  Stanley looked back with the same confused expression.  “He had that horse he let you ride?”

Stanley nodded quietly.  He remembered the horse, but he couldn’t understand what it had to do with him.  The horse could come over and visit if it wanted, but he and his toys were quite happy here.  Stanley hugged his toy closer to his chest in case some of the bad news was meant for his favorite hero.

“We’re going to move out there and be close to him”, Stanley’s mother said.  “We’ll be able to see him more often.  And your father has a new job out there.  He’s going to learn how to do more things.  You know, like how your teacher shows you different things at different times of the day?”

Stanley only nodded.

“It’s just like that”, his mother continued.  “Let’s say that your dad has been learning to read all this time.  Well now we’re all going to a different place so he can learn how to do math.  And we don’t want your father to be lonely, so we’re going to go with him.”

“I like it here.”  Stanley put his head down and looked at his hero.  He could only see the lines that made up the hair on top of its blonde head and its broad shoulders.  He thought about lifting the muscular arms up in a defiant flight position, but he knew he would have to let go of the toy to do that.  Stanley wasn’t about to risk that for anything so he kept staring down, unmoving.

“We all like it here”, Stanley’s father replied.  “Y’know what, though?  We think we might like it out there.  We might have all kinds of fun there.  It’s a lot warmer out in Arizona.  You know how it gets dark and cold and snows out here?  Well they have lots more sun in the dessert.  You could be outside and talk to iguanas.”

“What’s an iggana?”

“It’s a lizard.  You know what lizards are, don’t you?  They’re like little dinosaurs”, Stanley’s mother offered. 

She had hit the magic word.  “Dinosaurs?”  Stanley’s eyes lit up.  “I get to live with dinosaurs?”

“They’re really small, but kind of.  They aren’t exactly dinosaurs, but they have green skin and they’re scaly, and they crawl around on tree branches.  Oh, and they have long tails too that they can sweep back and forth.”  Stanley’s mother could see her excitement was transferring over to her son.  He was no longer looking at the floor.  Now Stanley was staring off into space pondering the possibilities.

“Coooool.”

Image“Yeah, isn’t it?  Think about it”, Stanley’s father continued.  “Your little guy there could have all sorts of adventures.  He’s already saved New YorK City… I dunno… How many times Stanley?”

“A gabillion!”  Stanley was very proud of all the help he had provided his hero with in their never-ending mission.

“Don’t you think he might get a little bored of saving the same old buildings?”  Stanley’s father had shared his love of super-heroes with his son and knew exactly what approach to take.  “What if we take all your heroes to a new world?  They could have trips to alien worlds and see weird creatures.  Do you think they would like that?”

“Yeah”, Stanley answered.  “But when are we coming back?”

“Not for a long time, honey.”

“Oh.”  The reply Stanley got from his mother wasn’t the one he had hoped for.  “We can’t come back?”

“We might”, she answered.  “Don’t you think we should try out the new place first?  See how that goes?  We can’t give up too quick.  That wouldn’t be right.”

“I guess not.” 

Stanley’s father saw the sadness returning to his son’s face.  An idea hit him.  “Hey Stanley, you like your heroes, right?”

“Yeah”, he replied quietly.

“Well you like how brave they are, don’t you?  How they stand up for their friends and take on danger to help others?”

“Uh huh.”

“That’s what we need you to do.  We need you to be brave.” 

Stanley didn’t respond.

“Here’s what I think”, Stanley’s father continued.  “I think we should get you a mask.  And every time we start getting caught up in things that make you scared, you put on the mask.  That way you can be brave like your hero, there.”

“Can I have a belt too?”  Stanley’s voice held a hint of cautious hope. 

“I think that makes sense”, Stanley’s mother said.  “That way you could have pouches to put your toys in.  We wouldn’t want you to stare down trouble without your friends by your side.  Don’t forget though, we’ll both be there the whole time.”

“Do I get boots?”  Stanley was getting excited.

“Would I let you go stomping off into wonderful new worlds without boots?”  His father feigned injury at the suggestion.  What super-hero, or even sidekick, would go out without their boots?”

Stanley grinned.

“What do you say, Stanley”, his father asked.  “Can you be brave for us?”

Stanley nodded and vigorously shook his head up and down.  His parents looked on, quietly interlocking fingers and breathing a shared sigh of relief.  Stanley, back to his normal self, played with his toy in one hand and ate his macaroni with the other.  He could almost feel his belt and boots making him stronger already.

Held Captive

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Held Captive

Charles Bullit knew that this line of work was supposed to be exciting, but as the gun pressed against his temple he started to think that there were better ways to spend the day.  With his capturer holding him in a tight headlock, his range of motion was quite limited.  He tried to keep his breathing somewhat steady while his eyes darted between the three players that were all attempting to control the scene the way they wanted.

First off there was the man with the gun to his head.  Bullit didn’t know what his motivation was or who he thought he was, but he knew that this fellow was a quite capable of being rough.  There had been no introductions made, the man had run up, grabbed him, and forced the gun on Bullit while the crowd stood by and watched.  Not knowing his name, and feeling that such pleasantries had long since gone out the window, Bullit had decided to refer to him as “Jerk”.

Standing on the other end of the mall’s courtyard was the man with a megaphone.  Most of his physical traits were obscured by the megaphone he seemed to keep in front of him at all times.  Bullit could tell that he was probably in his late 40’s.  He even had the spare-tire around his belly to compliment what was probably a bald patch underneath the black cap.  To finalize his attire, the megaphone-carrier wore a pair of sunglasses even though it was a fall day and the clouds were not letting up.  Mostly due to the megaphone that the man seemed to treat as an appendage, but also because of his rather unhelpful manner, Bullit figured he should be called “Loudmouth”.

ImageThen there was the only person that seemed to be trying to help.  The man standing about twenty feet away from Bullit and Jerk radiated confidence.  He had pulled a gun the moment that he had seen Bullit being taken and hadn’t taken his eyes off of Jerk the entire time.  He kept a safe distance, but his badge and the orders he barked out showed he knew exactly what he was doing.  Bullit could only assume this was the man that he was supposed to be meeting.  All things considered, Bullit could have written up much smoother ways for this meet-up to play out.  Regardless, Bullit kept his gaze mostly on his best shot of getting out of this, the man he decided was “Hero”.

Feeling that he wasn’t getting enough of Bullit’s attention, Jerk grabbed him tighter around the neck and half walked, half dragged his hostage backwards.  Hero followed very slowly, while Loudmouth called out, “This isn’t how this is supposed to go!  You know what we’re after, so just do it!”  Bullit could hear Jerk grunt and saw the man sneer out of the corner of his eye.  Without warning, he slid over to the left.  Bullit tried to turn to see where they were going, but that only caused Jerk to press his gun deeper into his temple.  Bullit quickly decided his curiosity wasn’t worth the migraine and gave Jerk the attention he seemed to want so badly.  Hero was side stepping, each foot quietly and confidently placed on the mall’s linoleum floor as he followed Jerk’s every move.

Bullit had felt like he could talk the situation out.  He waved his free arm and tried to get Loudmouth’s attention.  When he opened his mouth to speak, Loudmouth quickly interrupted him.

“You!  Do not say a word!  You’ve been warned!  We know what we’re doing, we’ve got this.  Just keep quiet or it’s all over!”

Bullit didn’t find those words terribly comforting.  Jerk grunted again and grumbled into Bullit’s ear.  “He’s right.  Keep your mouth shut and it’ll all be over soon.  Do what I tell you and you’ll be fine.  You mess this up for me and it’ll all go badly for you.  A few more minutes; that’s how long this’ll last.”

Bullit tried to nod along but found himself too worked up.  He looked to Hero with pleading eyes.  Hero looked at him and then cast a glance to Loudmouth.  Seeing the Mr. Megaphone wasn’t focused on him right now, Hero nodded confidently and for the briefest of seconds took one hand off the gun.  He raised it to his mouth, his index finger in front of his lips, and then returned his hand to his sidearm.  Bullit had gotten the message.  All three players in this game wanted him to keep his trap shut.

Screams echoed from behind Jerk and Bullit.  A few seconds later Bullit could see the baristas deserting the espresso stand that he and Jerk were approaching.  He had to give his captor some credit.  He no longer had his back exposed and could focus on the one-hundred and eighty degrees around them.  Bullit took in his environment, trying to find something that would help him out.  He knew that he wasn’t supposed to make any sudden moves, but he was growing tired of being treated like a bag of floor that was lugged and tossed around.

Loudmouth apparently figured out what Bullit was up to and protested in the only language he knew; shouting.  “Don’t even think about it!  Your job is to shut up and not throw any curve balls!  Be a good little hostage.”  Bullit wished very hard that he had a curve ball that he could throw.  At this point he’d aim it right for Loudmouth’s annoying face.

Suddenly, Hero leapt into action.  In one fluid movement he had sheathed his gun and ran full charge towards Jerk.  Jerk had been distracted by the outburst between Loudmouth and Bullit and Hero had taken advantage of it.  Bullit could feel Jerk’s eyes growing wide as Hero was only a few yards away.

“Stay back!  I will take this little punk out!  Stay back!”

Hero, almost within arms’ reach, took the situation under consideration.  Bullit knew that if he lunged just right, he could take out Jerk.  But Jerk was not in the mood to call it quits.  He pressed the gun even harder into Bullit’s face and moved so that his captive was directly between him and Hero.  He moved the gun to the base of Bullit’s skull and pointed it upwards.  With his other hand Jerk pulled at the hair on top of Bullit’s hard and pulled back sharply.  With that, Bullit had had enough.

“Okay.  Stop.”

Loudmouth threw his megaphone on the ground but Jerk refused to let go.  Bullit was done.  He stomped on Jerk’s foot, felt the grip on him loosen, and punched Jerk right in the jaw.

“What’re you doing?”  Hero was shocked and came running up.  He pushed Bullit roughly aside and knelt before Jerk.  “Hank, are you okay?”

“Larry, what’s happening?”  Jerk, or rather, Hank, was dazed.

“The freakin’ extra ruined the shot, that’s what happened”, Loudmouth answered as he walked up to the three of them.  “Kid, what do you think you’re doing?  We can’t use any of that.”

“Jerk here was getting a little too rough.  I know I’m just a walk on player, but what the sam hill, man?”

Hero, know known to Bullit as Larry, grabbed onto Bullit’s arm and pulled him aside.  Loudmouth went to check in on Hank and started muttering, “Never in my twenty-one years of directing…”

“Look kid”, Larry started.  “Do you know why you weren’t allowed to talk?”

“Because union rules say that if I say any lines then you have to pay me different.”

“Right.  So what makes you think if we don’t want to hear a word you say that we’re going to love you for changing the script?”

“I’m sorry”, Bullit said.  “But Jerk over there…”

“That ‘Jerk’ is Hank Stuffin.  He’s the second biggest name on this picture.  He made enough money last year to buy your house.  Ten times.  So you treat him with respect.  Now, you know who the biggest name on this picture is?”

Bullit didn’t, so he stayed quiet.

“Me.  This is my picture.  I’m tired of making romantic comedies.  This is my big action break.  Do you know how many chocolate shakes I’ve had to give up getting in shape for this role?  How many hours I’ve spent in the gym while some muscle-bound trainer yells at me?  And you’re going to come here and mess that all up for me?”

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you, but the guy was getting rough.”

“What did you expect?”  Loudmouth came up, taking the sunglasses off for the first time so Bullit could see his eyes glaring a hole through him.

“I dunno, I thought I might get to drive a car or something.  Maybe ride on a bus that you guys were using.”

“Kid, what kind of spy movie takes place on a bus?”  Ludmouth yanked his hat off and threw it on the ground in disgust.  “Now get off my location.”

Bullit shrugged.  He could hear Loudmouth talk about having to reset and reshoot but he didn’t feel bad for what he had done.  They could have been nicer, he thought.  Charles Bullit walked off the set only too happy to leave the movie world behind him.

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