Playing Army


It was hard not to hear the boys as they walked up the street. They were talking about what to do for the afternoon since school had let out early for the day.

“How ’bout we play ‘Army?’” one boy asked.

“Are you kidding? My mom would ground me forever me if she knew I was playing with guns.”

“They’re toy guns!”

“I’m not even allowed to pretend a stick is a gun.”

“Yeah, my mom’s the same way,” another complained. “I pointed my finger like it was gun at my baby sister and she nearly knocked my head off.”

They laughed at the idea of seeing their friend walking around without his head, as they continued past my house. But as they move out of ear-shot, the thought that they couldn’t play ‘Army,’ made me sad.

When I was a kid, there were few Saturday mornings in Klamath, that me, my brother Adam and whomever else we could wrangle up, didn’t head into the Redwoods to play ‘Army,’ fighting the Nazi’s. We used redwood cones for ‘hand grenades’ and tree branches as guns or simply pretended to hold one up, firing it.

“Bang, bang, bang!,” one of us would sound out while shooting their fake ‘machine gun.’

“Boom,’ somebody else called out as a make-believe ‘grenade’ exploded.

Inevitably, one of us would complain, “Hey, you’re dead! I shot you!”

“No you didn’t, you missed me!” the intended target would shout back.

“Well, you’re dead now, I’m jus’ threw a hand grenade at you.”

“No, you didn’t!”

“Yes, I did.”

Such battles would rage on for hours, with no one really being shot and killed, blown to smithereens or winning. It was all in fun, and as the sun dropped beyond the Sage’s Riddles, we’d all head home in time for dinner having made plans to meet again the next day, right after church.

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