...how a fun family outing turned into a Cormac McCarthy novel...
It's not my fault that the boy has a crossbow. I never wanted him to have one in the first place. And the crossbow that the Vol-in-Law ordered for Buddy turned out to be far more weapon like than toy like. It's black. It's metal. It can zing the little darts quite far and quite hard. But who am I to overlook a fun toy? So on the first warm day of the year, I took the boy and his cross bow down to the Wandle Wildlife Park - or as it actually is..and abandoned, filled in and overgrown wastewater treatment plant which sits underneath a major powerline pathway: the Wandle Wasteland.
We first fired the crossbow at the Ikea bag we'd concealed it in. But soon the boy tired of that and began shooting a wild. A dart went off into the rough. The boy began down some creepy path and soon found an abandoned supermarket trolley. What heaven for a small boy.
We dragged it out into the open and played around some more. Buddy was desperate to take it home. I resisted my natural inclination to bring home 'found goods' and said no. But I let him climb around on it and we shot at it with the crossbow.
At one point, a middle class man walking through the 'park' happened upon our fun (I think I was aiming at some crows) and seemed quite frightened by our manner. I could see him taking in the 'bulldog' t-shirt - purchased in a moment last year when I was feeling quite hopeful about England's World Cup prospects (i.e. before it began), but now looks more appropriate for an English Defense League rally. I could see him taking in the trolley and assuming we'd taken it from Sainsbury's. And the look of derision as he saw me hand the crossbow to they boy....I did feel a slight inward cringe of shame.
But then a couple of old drunks happened by. I would have said they were homeless, but I suspect they weren't. They did have two mutt like dogs with them, but no possessions. The had the tremor and pallor of long-time abusers. They didn't have all their teeth. They smiled at the boy's trolley antics and asked about the cross-bow. The woman asked me where I was from. The man wanted to see the boy fire the crossbow and cheered enthusiastically and Buddy insisted that the man have a try, too. Turns out he was raised in Indiana and had lived in LA for quite some time. He asked me if I'd ever been to Indiana. "Only driven through," I had to reply.
"Tennessee's a beautiful place," he said. "You just can't beat it in the spring or the fall."
And I had to agree.