Playing with Plastic Guns
I remember I used to like playing war with my friend, Bobby. I used to like it a lot.
My gun was made of plastic connected tubing. It really didn’t look like a gun. It was just a white plastic tube with a blue connector piece for the handle. I pretended there was a trigger and made Pshh! Pshh! sounds when I shot. The tubes were for building play forts and things I guess. I used mine for a gun. But my friend Bobby had a real gun. Well not a real gun, but his looked real. Not only did it have a trigger, but a working shoulder rest, an ammunition clip, and all the detail of the real thing. It was all black too, not colored like the rest of the toy guys stores sold because they wouldn’t look like real guns. When he showed it to me I said, “Damn (my mom wasn’t around so I could say damn) that looks like a real gun.” Though I had never seen a real gun before.
My backyard and the woods that surrounded it were our battleground. There were never any real rules to our wars. Sometimes me and Bobby weren’t even on the same team. Somehow the idea of being a spy always seemed like a fun one. Spies, of course, are the most clever and daring of all soldiers, or so we thought. The object was always the same- shoot the enemy, who ever or whatever that was. If it wasn’t Bobby it was a group of tree stumps, our dogs, or something like that. The shots were the best part. As real as Bobby’s gun looked, it still didn’t shoot anything. The best was when it was me against Bobby. Sure we didn’t always agree on who got hit, but that was just part of fun for us.
But when the shot did land, that was the most fun of the battle. Pulling off a hip shot from 50 feet was awesome, but taking the shot was fun as well. By grabbing my stomach or shoulder, I could really play out the shot. That’s where the shots would usually land, head shots didn’t allow for much acting. It was more heroic when you died with a show. Slow- mo was always a good touch.
Me and Bobby would always walk down to the corner grocery store for victory candy after our battles. If we were lucky we’d have enough for a comic book or a toy as well. Our houses were on the top of a steep and busy hill, so our mom’s always worried when we went down, especially when we rode bikes.
One time I rode down and my lace got caught in the spokes and the spokes jammed and I skidded and fell right into the road. My mom could hear me yelling from the house. Nothing was broken, I was just scraped up some. My mom sure was worried though. She kept saying, ” If a car had been comingÃ¢Â?Â¦oh I don’t even want to think about it.” She wouldn’t let me go down to the store for a week after that, and it was without the bike, and she always made sure to ask if my shoes were tied. It become a joke later but I could always tell that my mom still was a little worried when we talked about it.
My favorite comics were the ones based on stuff I already knew about like games or movies. There was this one called Double Dragon, which was based on the Nintendo game Double Dragon. When I went to buy it, it said that it was a mini-series on it. I asked the storeowner, “What’s a mini-series?” I always assumed the man behind the store counter was the owner.
He told me that that means there’s only a few books to buy to get the whole story. ” So it’s kinda like a bookÃ¢Â?Â¦but in pieces, right?” I said.
” Yeah, I guess,” the owner said, “Hey kid why don’t you buy one of these other comics, they go on for longer. You get a new one each week, the adventures never end. What do you think about that?”
” Sounds good, but I want this one for now,” I said. I might have been young, but I wasn’t gonna get swindled.
As we walked home that day my friend Bobby said to me, ” Hey, when we get back, let’s play another game in the deep woods today. The deep woods were the denser part of the forest behind both our houses and beyond our property lines. Our mothers generally didn’t like us playing there, but occasionally we would anyways, as boys tend to do.
“Ok, sounds fun,” I said, ” but I gotta go home first and check in with my mom”
My mom always had me check-in after going anywhere for longer than a half hour.
” What did you buy there?” my mother asked in her mother voice.
” Just a comic book.”
” What kind of comic book?”
” A regular comic book, nothing bad, it’s based on a video game.”
” Let me see.” No matter what I’d said, my mother always insisted on seeing my comics, and hiding them was never any option either, she was too good for that trick by now. She eyed the comic book and then said to me. ” AlrightÃ¢Â?Â¦just don’t go trying any of this karate stuff on your own, you got me?”
” Yes mom”
“I really don’t like all the violence that’s in those comics.”
” Yeah, I know mom.”
Later that day I met up with Bobby. Today we were on the same team, no spies either. After having some sandwiches and juice his mother made for us, we started out on our journey.
First we had to make it past the enemy base. We had to sneak around his back shed then tumble and crawl to the bridge we made over the small stream. There was one enemy sighting. It was Mr. McGreg’s old sheep dog. I took care of him easily. One shot was all it took.
It was pretty easy going once we were in the woods. Though, we hid behind trees just in case of any enemy attacks. There were a few enemy sightings, but we took care of them easily. I had to use my grenade launcher a few times to blow up some vehicles, but nothing too serious.
As we got deeper and deeper into the woods battling foes and it was getting darker and darker, Bobby noticed a kind of path.
” I’ve never seen that before, doesn’t it look like a path?” he said.
It was a large grove of bushes with a kind of ripped opening at the bottom of it. It looked dark.
” Yeah, it looks like an animal goes in thereÃ¢Â?Â¦maybe like a deer or something.”
” Well let’s check it out,” Bobby said as he got down low and started crawling into the split between the bushes. ” C’mon,” he said.
I stopped for a moment before I went in. Truth is I was a little scared. I was worried that some animal, or worse a monster would come out. I always worried about kid’s stuff like that. But, on the other side of the brush was what looked like a clearing with a small pond in it. It was a pretty cool discovery.
” Hey neato, how’d we ever miss this thing?” said Bobby.
” I don’t know.” It was one the coolest things we’d ever found. ” Let’s check it out.”
I imagined all the fun things we could do here as we walked around our new discovery. We could go fishing, maybe even put a raft in the pond. We could catch turtles and frogs and snakes, and keep them as pets.
” Hey, I spotted an enemy intruder!” yelled Bobby as he pointed at a spot near the pond’s edge.
“Where, I can’t see it?” Sometimes our enemies needed to be identified by each other since they could change depending on our imaginations.
” Right there, he’s sitting by that logÃ¢Â?Â¦ya see him?” Bobby said and I finally saw what he was pointing at. There was a giant bullfrog sitting by the log.
” Ok I see himÃ¢Â?Â¦you want me to shoot or do you got him?”
” No, I think this one’s gonna need more punishment than that. Let me see your gun.”
” Why can’t you shoot him with your gun, you got the better gun anyways?”
” Exactly, I’m not gonna shoot him, I’m gonna bash him with your gun.”
” What, no, whya gonna do that?”
” Just give me your gun, c’mon, mine’s too good.”
” No, that’s stupid anyways, let’s just go do something else.”
” Fine, why don’t you bash him then, scaredy-pants, or do you want the enemy to get away.”
” I already shot him just like I shot the other ones.”
” Well, frog enemy’s have to be bashed, that’s the rules nowÃ¢Â?Â¦now you gonna do it or what?”
“C’mon its getting dark, we need to go home.”
” Just bash the thing before it gets away, don’t be such a baby or we’re not gonna play war anymore, I can’t play war with a baby.”
” Fine.” I was fighting back tears at this point. I didn’t know what to do. I would have rather caught the frog, but if Bobby said this was the way we had to play then I had to. I picked my pipe gun up and bashed down where the bullfrog was sitting peacefully. There was a big splash of water, and my pants got wet from the pond water. I looked down and saw the frog swimming away frantically with one of its back legs hanging on, dangling by bits of flesh and blood vessels. It left a trail of blood behind in it’s wake. I’m pretty sure a frog couldn’t survive that.
” Hahaha, good one, you sure bashed him good,” Bobby yelled, ” Next time try bashing him in the body so he explodes.”
“OkÃ¢Â?Â¦can we go home now, it’s getting late?”
” Sure, bud.”
On the way back through the hole in the brush, every twig seemed to scratch and tear at me. When we were back in the forest it seemed even darker than before and every tree branch and limb seemed vicious and violent. All the sounds of the forest seemed intent on seeking me out and harming me. I made sure not to stray from the path.
That week I begged and pleaded with my mother to buy me a real-looking gun. She finally gave in and let me, even though she insisted they were too violent. I knew better.
Of course, I know now that it’s no big deal to kill a frog. But, when I was young and I liked playing war and other childish games, I thought it was bad. But, I’m older now and I know better. I don’t play war and or silly games, anymore. I know there’s nothing wrong with killing a helpless frog.