Today, as we scavenger around the backlot, Jimmy and I decide to get away from city life and soon find ourselves at the water’s edge of Tarzan’s Lake, looking at craw fish and bull frogs. The top of New York Street towers above the trees in the adjacent forest. The shadow cast on us by Boystown grows longer as we while away the hours. A cross atop the steeple on Combat street is also visible in the distance.
One of the dirt roads splits down the middle of the jungle, while another one circles around in front of the lake. Hiding places are abundant, and if we happen to get chased, crossing the little foot bridge would create havoc for any guard. He would then be forced to exit the Bronco and chase us by foot.
Good luck with that!
It’s pretty hard to get caught here, unless you’re in a boat. You’ve probably heard the saying: up the creek without a paddle… well it applies to me today…
The Story begins—
Jimmy got a hankering to go out on the little row boat that has a leak in it, so this afternoon, we are checking out what would be needed in order to sail it. First, we realize we have no paddles, then we see that it’s already half full of water.
So we pull it ashore and empty it out. That solves that. Next, we attach a rope to the front of the craft. Rope exists everywhere on studio backlots. Many appear to be a hundred years old, but any will do. These are not rapids, just a tranquil pond full of fish… many of which are bright orange.
Ducks quack around us, no longer afraid, as they were when we first did this years ago, back when this boat had no issues. Sometimes this setting is what you need… not the bright lights of the famous cities from around the world that surround us.
Jimmy jumps in first. My job is to pull him around the pond. I do so, while running, to increase excitement. I pull him as fast as I can, then when I let go of the rope, he has to duck his upper torso to avoid hitting himself on the footbridge overhead. He wasn’t expecting that, and the row boat hits a post that holds the bridge up. He nearly falls out, like I was hoping he would!
Next, it’s my turn to ride and his turn to be the motor. Life is good… until we hear the roar of the Bronco. Security hasn’t seen us yet, but we hear it and we can tell it is close, so, old pal Jimmy drops the rope leaving me stuck without a paddle.
The Bronco must have seen Jimmy run, and it is approaching in MY direction. I lie down as much as is possible in the boat, but I carefully lift my head to see if I can spot him. Through squinted eyes, I catch a glimpse of the larger-than-life silhouette that fills up half the windshield. A glimpse is all that is needed. It is Ron Smith, the Paul Bunyan of guards. He is 6′ 9″ tall and that doesn’t count his cap. He is big, his gun is big, his hat is big.
Damned if he doesn’t sit there taunting me and tormenting me in my predicament, on purpose. He has positioned the Bronco to face me and my little boat. He sits point blank watching me, probably laughing to himself, knowing full well my quandary. I just sit there, in my slowly sinking boat, staring back. What else can I do?
It feels like an eternity has passed, but in reality, it has probably only been a minute or two. As he approaches, I think to myself, I may be able to talk my way out of this… After all, Ron is the only guard besides Mario to ever give me a tour. But then again, I waffle… he has given me some of my scariest chases. So, which Ron is now pulling me to shore, friend or foe?
As my boat gently glides up and out of the water to dock, I say “Hi,” like I’ve just come home from school or something. He asks, “where did your friend go?” I guess we’re skipping formalities, so I respond, “not sure, but let’s go find him, he ran toward Boystown.” Ron falls for my offer to assist him, but I’m actually buying time to escape.
A Good Scout—
Yet, Ron is so nice that I no longer feel threatened. Now, I truly want to catch Jimmy. I’m on a mission with a security guard, no less. Like a helpful scout, I offer beneficial info, “I bet he’s hiding in Boystown,” follow me! I am not going to show him the fort I have built, and I have already calculated that Ron is way too big to get around some of the secret passages.
I was “kidding” when I said he was in here, but… onward and upward!
We walk together, Ron behind me, the entire time, as we zigzag through a ridiculous number of passage ways in our mock search for Jimmy. I was thinking he must be home by now watching Hogan’s Heroes with a big sandwich, but to my surprise, I peer into a soffit and he’s in it!… I actually found him!
But, I don’t give him away. We might tease each other while playing with boats, but in these situations, friendship rules. I stay as cool as a cucumber and without missing a beat, I act like I see nothing. But Ron decides to look up at what I just saw. At that moment I think, Jimmy’s had it. But Ron looks and appears satisfied… I’m amazed. Within a microsecond, Jimmy has repositioned himself and it was good enough for Ron to miss him. I am so shocked, that I need to look again. He is not visible, that was a slick as it gets… like a Twilight Zone. Now you see him, now you don’t.
Ron and I leave the building and he gives me a ride over to the train station. As I turn to jump out of the Bronco, he calls out to me, “See ya… next time, you might not be so lucky!”
I climb out through the studio across from Maureen’s apartment and nod a nice good bye, as I jump down off the fence and run back to the big city. Jimmy should be following me shortly and I can’t wait to relive all of this with him… what the heck just happened?
Written and lived by Donnie Norden
Edited by Donna Quesada