My pal Stanley and I love baseball and BB gun fights. He is an exceptional student preparing for an engineering major in electronics at nearby UCLA. He is fun to run with because he always wants to build things or reverse engineer to see how “it” was made. His brother John Ordon was my classmate at St. Augustine’s, Stan is a year younger. We live down the street from one another. John Ordon is the alias I use around the lot if I get caught by security. John replaces Don, and Ordon replaces Norden. John never trespasses so there is no way these names cross paths. If challenged by police, I can say my name and “you must have misunderstood, it’s Donnie- not Johnnie!”
Stanley and I can’t get enough BB gun fights inside the backlot. All my friends think this is the best thing to do on this lot. Normally, Combat Village is the set of choice, but, we just watched the Rat Patrol and a raid took place in Verona Square by the guys with the cool jeeps. We want to shoot it out where Romeo and Juliet once intermingled… and Christopher George cleansed it from Germans.
We enter at the rail depot and instantly we are on set. Maureen is hanging out across the street and can easily see us and we wave back and forth. This is no village for a girl right now. Liberation is taking place, me vs Stanley, may the best man win. We start by going inside separate buildings, thereby no longer having the human target in sight. This is when soldiers become creative, exit the set that you’re thought to be in, and sneak around to surprise your hunter and make him- the hunted. We both invoke this policy. The door you run in is not always where you stay, you create an illusion then sneak up from behind.
To keep from being injured, there’s no targeting the other guy’s head. We have no protection, welts appear when you’re hit. If you’re hit in the arm, you’re wounded and can continue. Torso, you’re dead! …Simple
Generally, we get several battles or kills in-then go home no worse for wear with just a few battle scars.
The skirmish I’m in now takes us behind the sets in Mexican Village. We are ducking in and out doorways along the old street light storage area. They are kept behind these buildings. Maureen and her friends hear this as BB’s meant for me hit the metal fence instead. The girls she’s with on the other side realize we mean business, this is a hot set. You could get hurt. This is no place for girls today.
Stanley and I take turns chasing each other, trying to corner the pursued. This is a ground level battle, building to building. We only brought pistols today. These Crossman black pistols look real and fire both BB’s and pellets. But compared to our Daisy rifles, these lack punch. So we need to close ranks and get closer to the target “that being Stanley or me.“
We know the girls are being entertained by the occasional tings and visuals of doorways providing cover. It’s like we are a TV set and the girls just watch, gab and brush their hair, trying to out-cool us…like they’ve seen this rerun before.
We find ourselves involuntarily staring at this group of pretty girls but once our feet hit the battleground, we fall into character. Their side of the studio fence blurs out. We’re real. This is war on this side of the fence. This battle is about to climax, I turn on the offensive and run and hide behind one of the ten columns that hold up this building. There are ten, evenly spread out in the front side of this ground level battlefield. Only our heads protrude from side to side, along with an arm holding a pistol. This is going to end bad, someone’s going to get it, we are closer than usual in this particular exchange. After each shot, you hear the immediate recocking of each pistol. You return fire when you hear a round fired, while your adversary has to recock.
My head sees Stanley’s head, and the two of us exchange fire. I am hit, right in the left- eye, I’m blind! We have one rule, don’t shoot each other in the head! I throw this heavy little pistol in my hand at Stanley. I feel no eye in the socket where it’s supposed to be located in…Stan is silent and feels terrible. At this moment, I have just one working eye.
Out of my one good eye, things get worse. The Bronco is headed straight for us like a tornado. I’m leaving, exit stage right!
I ignore our group of female fans, they have no idea yet what’s taken place. I stop as my one working eye sees Stan atop the fence…
Next, a crash of metal onto concrete as Stanley tosses over both guns. I stop from running to grab them. I can’t believe he rescued my gun with Big George in mad pursuit. The next body is security guard George himself-on top of the fence, he can only watch our escape. The girls, seeing that our predicament at the moment is an MGM chase, begin cheering “Go Boys Go- Go Boys Go.” We realize George can’t make it over the fence top; we stop long enough to accept our cheers and watch his frustration. We bask for a brief moment, as if to take a bow toward our enthusiastic audience, we realize the police are probably going to be the next puzzle piece to arrive. No one here except Stanley realizes I can’t see and maybe don’t have a left eye.
Stan’s bravery in salvaging my gun will never be forgotten. He earned another stripe on his sleeve today and is very deserving of this cheerleading squad celebration as he touchdowned just out of George Barner’s grasp.
The brief run turns into a fast walk as we round the last corner toward my house. Stan is worried he blinded me, and for all I can tell…he did! My eye still won’t open as we enter my empty house. No one is home to cry to, and it’s just as well, since mom’s favorite last words are always …Donnie be careful!
Stanley’s face when he looks at my eye is no comfort. Masking the pain makes time pass slowly. Yet, within the next thirty minutes, magic happens, my eye fixes itself, although it is a bit swollen and I may get a shiner. No one needs to take me to the doctor and no one even needs to know what happened. Period. Just chalk up another fun day in our own personal Disneyland… with weapons !
Written and lived by Donnie Norden…