This morning I ate a banana. I am very particular in the way I eat bananas, from how I peel them to the way I break off the last bite with my fingers. That morning I had the good fortune of selecting a banana with a sticker on it. I made sure to rip the sticker in half, as I would with any sticker from a fruit, before throwing it in the trash. I do this, of course, to stymie the efforts of an evil scientist who uses fruit stickers to power his massive robot of destruction.
The evil scientist and his robot were two among many of my childhood villains. Others were the volcano monster, the garbage monster, and the evil lawn mower. The ring leader and most dangerous foe of all was the Big Fat Devil. I was never alone, however, to defend myself against this axis of evil. I had my two best friends, Thomas and Ryan, as well as the intrepid duo of Dusty the monkey and Baldwin the eagle.
Many a battle was fought over my friends’ house on second street. Common weapons in our arsenal were invisible guns, bazookas, and grenades. We used these on our equally invisible enemies. Also important were the coat hangers and broom handles that could become any object we wished with a thought.
* * *
Barefooted on the hardwood floor of Thomas and Ryan’s bedroom, I hid just under the windowsill, a broken, clear-green, plastic squirt gun in hand. Just on the other side the volcano monster stood raging in the street, bombarding the second floor with meteors. I looked over to Ryan, taking refuge under the bed with a duplo gun pressed to his chest. That one look was all we needed to understand each other. The next moment we both leapt up and emptied our clips out the window, ignoring the pain of derelict legos under our feet. The volcano monster was caught by surprise and thrashed under the lead onslaught. Then he exploded, sending super-heated shrapnel over the house and all the way into the back yard. Below us, Thomas had gone on a mission outside, and took the opportunity to shoot at the volcano monster.
I stuck my head out the window. “Thomas, we got him already. He’s dead.”
Thomas stopped firing a moment and slammed his back against the corner of the house. “What?”
“The volcano monster just exploded!” called Ryan.
“Oh,” replied Thomas, disappointed. He paused for a moment, thinking. “Oh no! The evil lawn mower is in the back yard again!”
“Mary, mother of God!” I shouted, already running for the stairs.
* * *
The three of us used to have an art class together, and none of us had the patience or respect necessary to pay attention. Despite our teacher giving us frequent breaks in which we could play slamwich, we were largely dissatisfied with every class. It is at times like these when the Big Fat Devil would strike, and we would be forced from our studies to beneath the nearest couch, refusing to come out until the threat was over. Getting bored was never an option, because evil never rested.
Though the forces of good always prevailed, our enemies could never be truly defeated, rising from the dead as needed. If we had killed off all our enemies, with what would we be left? On what adventures could we have embarked?
Things are far quieter now. The Big Fat Devil has moved on to less protected areas. I wake up early in the morning to read, and to watch squirrels carry on with their everyday lives. There are plenty of people and things telling me that there are enemies out there still, that I should be worried about the state of things. There always has to be an enemy.
There’s a whole slew of them to choose from: terrorists, communists, Islamofascists, Christofascists, atheists, Democrats, Republicans, all politicians, kids these days, old farts, the system, the man, anarchists, businessmen, hippies, God, the Devil. Take your pick and everyone will have to pretend to respect your opinion.
Of course, some of these are more made up than others.
When I made up my own enemies, there were no civilian casualties, no suicide bombings, no secret offshore prisons. Though I no longer use stripped goldenrod stalks to fence with the air, or cracked and stinking walnuts as grenades to blow through non-existent barricades, I for some reason see it necessary to tear banana stickers in half. I suppose it’s the least I can do.