Wednesday, June 25, 2014


i the air hero performed my air dance in front of a gathering crowd in the carpeted inside entrance area of the YMCA. i swung my air sword violently and my air shield was at the ready. my target was one Vulpe, a bored guy who was an otherwise nondescript bully but he was in my life so he was interesting. Vulpe, otherwise known as Ganon, stood there inches from me, unfazed by my attacks and generally dumbfounded at this whole scene. he would have snickered if he knew how. Doc, the kindly old giant who was my protector behind the desk when mom was away, was at his post at the front desk dutifully but he was clutching his chest. must have been too much of my excitement. Doc decided to lie down on the floor.

video games were not a pastime for me, they were my very blood. they were the lens through which i saw the real world. they were my comfort, my explainer, my reality. somehow real-life steps were not as cool as the steps to a tower in a Zelda game. the Zelda games were my home, that's where i explored every bush and got every rupee and aced every mission put before me. i was a winner in the game. even at the very early age of 7 i could see that the Zelda ethos would live in me forever, until i died, died in real life, not in the game where you can start from where you died as long as you saved properly. i was filled not just with the confident air of now in the '80s but with my future gameplaying of all the Zelda titles which would come, all of the exciting new graphics i would see as i grew, i was seeing them now with my seven-year-old eyes, the generations past and future collided into one lifeforce which guided me, swept me away, infused me with their strength, their power, like the Triforce of Power, or rather Wisom, Vulpe obviosuly had the Power one, i would never fear again, never be afraid of the real world, because i had the video-game world, now and forever. bullies beware! Link, i mean i, was here, in my jean overalls, on the prowl, to fight back, to save the day.

Doc must have really been pooped, he didn't pop his head back up. luckily, my other knight was here, Mom! she came out in her bathing suit but her hair wasn't wet and scraggly like usual, it was bone dry. i was boned.

me: Mom, ready? i've never wanted a taco plain crunchy with just cheese, lettuce, and the meat, no tomatoes or sour cream from Taco Bell like i do at this moment.

i was a simple child with simple tastes.

Mom: oh honey, what happened to your face? hello, who is your friend?

me: no chum of mine, he's a psycho.

Vulpe: more of a teacher, ma'am.

Mom (suspiciously): i see. well, don't mind my boy, he has the greatest imagination a human has ever had, and that's why i love him.

Vulpe slithered away to the weight room. there is a large glass panel at the center top of the weight-room door where you can see in and they can see out. Vulpe began to do stretches of his arms with his laser-focus eyes trained squarely at me and my mom.

Mom: let me kiss your face and make it all better.

y'know, i always thought that was a myth, but it really was true: a mother's kisses did actually in reality scientifically make the pain go away, it was proven, at least my mom anyway, my mom's love, maybe it wasn't true for your mom, or maybe it only worked with each boy's mother, like another mother couldn't heal a stranger boy, had to be her own child.

Mom gave me five of her patented kisses in sequence. with each one of her kisses on my cheek, i glanced over at Vulpe exercising. in tandem, in perfect timing, Vulpe would stretch the mound of black weight with his arm, exposing his rippling muscle, with each one of Mom's kisses, at the same time. with each lift, he stared more intently at me and smiled, or rather winced, or had a salivary look of direction around his mouth.

Mom: *kiss* one for the money *kiss* two for the show *kiss* three to get ready and *kiss* four to go and *five* to let you know i'll always be there for you.

me: let's go, mom, while the gettin's good. let's blow this popsicle stand.

Mom: honey, i still haven't swum. the waves caused by the gladiators in the pool are only now settling. i'm gonna be a little later than usual, sorry about that, hon, i know you have your schedule, i do, too, i'm not happy about this, but sometimes you have to go with the flow of the swimming pool. it's gonna have to be more of a linner at Taco Bell. or is it dunch?

there was no win. it was over. game over. i was just a kid, i had no power, i had to go along with the adults, always had to. i still marvel at the quickness with which mom disappeared. and with that, i was a vulnerable deer again, a piece of meat. Doc was in the death of sleep. there was nowhere to turn. if i escaped, Vulpe would chase me forever. i had to face him. worse, i had to confront him in the fucking weight room, with all of the disgusting oily musclemen there. this was Hell.

Vulpe immediately tied me up to the lifting-arm machine by my arms ironically. couldn't say the bully didn't have flare. i was at the ceiling of the room, my little cute feet struggling for air.

me (closing my eyes): teach me.

Vulpe began punching me in the stomach. i was such a delicious target for him, my midsection was left bare and open for him, unguarded and perfectly at the level of his punch trajectory.

Vulpe: i punch because i care. *punch* one for the money *punch* two for the show *punch* three to get ready and *four* to go...

but he saved the last one. i was dead, but i at least knew that song by heart.

Vulpe: dude, you have to learn about life. there will always be stronger, bigger, faster, better. how are you gonna deal with all that? you can't talk your way out of it. life is cruel, life is about war, fighting, the strongest winning, the strongest surviving. i'm just toughening you up. think of yourself as a piece of meat. we're all pieces of meat, even me. thrown out there into the world cold and alone and hungry to fend for ourselves. will you be eaten or will you be the wolf who eats the meat?

despite me being dead, the lesson sifted through and my eyes moved with understanding, they were my only body part which could still move.

Vulpe: see what's going on over there?

Vulpe pointed to Doc's desk and said this somewhat ironically cos he knew i was in no position to see anything but the overhead lights. i'm tellin' you, you have to give the bully his due, he was special. he did take me down from my restraints, though, to show me.

Vulpe: Doc is having a heart attack, or he had one. i don't want you to see anymore, it's too grisly. they couldn't get to him in time because everyone was too distracted with your faggy dance you did. his blood is on your hands. you killed your hero. but it's okay, i'm taking you under my wing now, i'm your new hero, i shield you from all of the world's troubles until you are of strong mind, body, and spirit and can handle it.

Vulpe pushed a button on the vending machine. Skittles came down.

Vulpe: i'll put it in video-game terms. life is easy, and is gone in a flash, at the push of a button. as easy as it is to push a button on your controller to activate your hero to shoot, kick, punch the enemy, you can push a button and in a poof, a flash, people are gone. go ahead, here's a quarter, get yourself something nice.

i held the enemy quarter in my hands, it felt slimy, evil, from the underworld, it was possessed by demons. i quickly let go of it into the slot and pushed the button for my favorite chocolate candy bar.

Vulpe: you pushed it, you pushed the button, right? you pushed the button and Doc is dead. see how frighteningly easy that was?

me: come on, i'm young, but i'm not dumb. i didn't cause that by pushing the button. i love Doc...well...i loved him.

i started to tear up. through the haziness of my watery eyes, Vulpe's face began to swirl and i thought about what he said. although it wasn't logically true, it was the type of thing that could be true, and with my feverish imagination, i immediately pictured the scenario, i imagined me pushing the vending-machine button then looking over to Doc who went from smiling cheerfully at the desk and waving to me to dropping suddenly to the floor. the horror of this sent me to my second death. that's two, one more and i lose my three lives and i don't have a 1UP in my backpocket.

Vulpe touched my nose with his fox finger. he was nice to me.

Vulpe: get up, squirt, the talking portion is over, time for action. train and meet me at the boxing ring. i'll be waiting there for the round of your life.

the boxing ring was located on the way other side of the YMCA campus. that would give me enough time for (a) training (montage). i pictured it in my head now: the guilt, the shame, the need for redemption, i would need to traverse a long way to reach my destiny,


i was in my green outfit and ready to fight. i would do anything to vanquish Vulpe Ganon, i could turn into a wolf if need be. only wolves got the meat.

i carried my little cute legs out the front entrance and into the blinding sunlight of reality. i turned the corner, went down the nondescript steps, and made a sharp left to go to the towering building which would test my mettle to get the medal. did i have what it took? is seven years old too young to think of such grand things? was any of this real? i only cared about one thing: filling my belly with meat. was i still in the comfort of mom's arms? i walked, pitter-patter, pitter-patter, to the boxing ring. i was a boy, but a tough boy, a toughened boy. not yet a man, but a wolf. that's not true, i only cared about one thing: i wanted my mommy.





Juliette said...

And now I'm terrified of vending machines....

the late phoenix said...

juli: if there's a button, it must be pushed...

Juliette said...

Of course! Ha! :)