At eleven years old, David had a great imagination. He often played by himself, becoming the hero and his arch enemy. Most of his games were daring and adventuresome like climbing to the tops of the tall eucalyptus trees, swaying in the breeze as he pretended to scout the horizon for enemy ships.
His favorite games involved fist-fights and gun or knife battles with himself (sometimes the bad guy won to be fought another day). After wrestling his dangerous foes, either he or they would tumble down the stairs, sprawling out onto the TV-room floor. This brought a scowl and warning from his mother.
“David, stop that, we’re trying to watch TV!”
Like any secret agent or daring cowboy, he paid no mind to the voice. After all, what could she know about his dangerous missions? Besides, she seldom punished him on the first warning.
His biggest challenge had been to find a way to use knives that looked as though they were sticking in him. As he pondered the idea he knew he needed some sort of padding hidden beneath his T-shirt that he could stab. That way the knife would be stuck into his shirt, as though he was stabbed. But what could he use? And then it became crystal clear; a package of hamburger!
His mother always bought her meats at the country market and they packaged them in butcher paper. He got a paring knife from the drawer and opened the fridge and scoured through the hamburger packages, measuring each one with the knife blade, looking for the perfect depth that would take the knife but not stick his body. In a few seconds he found the one. To make sure, he cautiously tested by putting the package beneath his shirt and slowly inserting the knife. It worked!
Now armed with a new weapon he could fight for his life until the final moment either he or his enemy lost the battle as the knife was pushed into his special-effects padding beneath his shirt. The final moment was always gritty and vein popping as one of his hands held the other wrist that held the knife. Ohh, he would exhale, reeling backwards with shock and pending doom, seeing the knife protruding from his chest.
Over and over he fought his imaginary enemies, each time ending the duel with a plunge of the paring knife into the package of meat. He was thrilled at his cleverness and realistic results. But, as all boys do, he tired at last of this game. He tossed the knife into the sink, the hamburger into the fridge and his soiled shirt into the dirty clothes. And thought no more about it. Until later.
“DAVID!” his mother called from the kitchen. He paused to reflect on what he’d done that day and could not think of anything worthy of trouble so he light-heartedly dashed into the kitchen.
“What is this?” she said, holding the package of hamburger with multiple stab wounds.
He told her his story hoping she would show mercy. She had to look away so he wouldn’t see her smiling. She composed herself. “And what did you do with your T-shirt?”
“Oh,” he was concerned now, “I put it in the dirty clothes.”
“Don’t ever do this again,” she said. “I’ll probably never get that shirt clean. And what about the holes? Go outside and play.”
As the back door closed behind him, he thought he heard his mother laughing like she’d just heard a great joke.