The Power Ranger
“Where were you last night?”
The smooth plastic figurine in his shirt bumped against his chest and he ducked beneath the metal poles that suspended a canopy above the metal tables at the center of the empty park. His halting, rhythmic stomps sent the white cotton t-shirt fluttering from his emancipated frame as the toy jostled around within the cocoon.
“Did you see the star?”
He adjusted the black belt looped securely through his jean shorts and scraped his fingertip against the edge of the grooves on one side of the table where a drop of ketchup had crusted. Satisfied to have it transferred promptly from finger to mouth, he scoured the rest of the table.
“It fell, Jason! I saw it and tried to tell you but you were gone.”
His head was bent, peering for treasures under the table and the bauble inside his shirt obeyed gravity and shot downward, a strange silhouette of right angles cradled in the fabric.
“Let me see your toy.”
Jason collected the bulge back to his body and left the small pile of bread crumbs and sand he had harvested beneath the table. The soft sound of the rubber soles of his black shoes played in harmony with the squeaking wheel of an advancing shopping cart.
“Put this in your shirt instead.”
Jason fisted his trinket, a jumble of arms and legs, and rubbed a finger over the round shape of the figure’s head. He squinted up at the center of the plastic red ceiling and ran his tongue against the backside of teeth turned in opposite directions. A mimic of protest whimpered from his lips and Jason turned to scoot away.
“Stop leaving! I always show you my stuff!”
He moved in time to the rhythm of the solid form beating into his chest, his head a constant bob. He nervously pushed both palms flat on top of his head and smoothed down his side-parted greasy black hair. The wheels of the grocery cart were turning faster to expel the squeak it had been holding, increasing to the squeak, squeak, squeaksqueaksqueaksqueak that now pursued him.
“Let me have it!”
The hard plastic crashed into his back, the metal tray at the bottom dug into the backs of his ankles. Baseball cards, newspapers, wrinkled gum wrappers, empty soda cans, and toilet paper flew out from the impact and Jason flew forward, his face landing in hard dirt.
“Look it! Stop, that’s mine!”
Dumbfounded, Jason had begun to clean off his knee-high white socks from the debris and held a Baseball card in his hand. It was Gary Bennett.
A hand flew out and snatched the card, ripping it apart. Jason checked his hand, a white streak visible on his tanned skin. His jaw dropped to squeal, and his face contorted with rage. An eye twitched. His forehead wrinkled.
The offended hand reached down the neck hole of his shirt and he produced the treasure of his belly, a blue Power Ranger figurine. He tucked it in his elbow and launched himself at the person ripping to shreds the toilet paper, gum wrappers, newspapers, and baseball cards.
His limbs got tangled with someone else’s and he bit something that wasn’t his but tasted like vinegar. A moment later, Jason was planted on the ground, a hand pushed against his face, shoving it further into the dry dirt. Jason closed his eyes tight, reaching for the Power Ranger with his fingertips to rub its head.
“I’m keeping this!”
A foot weighed down Jason’s chest and he felt the bony figure of a mass settle on his stomach, pinning him to the ground. He coughed and sucked in a cloud of dirt.
His Power Ranger began to slide from beneath his arm and he instinctively tightened around it, kicking his legs wildly. The figure bounced on his chest and wrestled with both hands to steal his toy. Jason sat up, his head free from the force of the malicious hand and struggled anew for rightful possession of his bauble.
Jason saw his Power Ranger in thin hands that weren’t his and smacked to brush them away. He tried to put it back into his shirt, but saw that it was now a bulge in a yellow shirt, stained by grass, dirt, blood, and sweat.
His Power Ranger was gone, forever. His legs were splayed apart when the thief pushed Jason’s head in a derogatory gesture, submitting him to further humiliation. Something of a moan burst out of Jason and he swiped his runny nose and leaky eyes on his dirty arm. He watched his trinket dangle from the vagrant’s arm carelessly.
He stood up and tucked his shirt back in his shorts. He watched the Power Ranger sway in the wake of a swagger from the confident walk of a miscreant. Jason’s calloused fingertips pressed into his palms and he rushed toward the criminal, the same undecided and cadenced.
The solid form of the tormentor was bent over the shopping cart of trash, making room for the Power Ranger in the seat of honor next to the ripped shards of baseball cards. Jason reached out and pushed, a harrowing shriek burning through his nose. Tumbling, caught off-guard, the offender hurtled blindly into the metal pole.
A solid thud reverberated and pushed the body away, to its knees. Jason grabbed his Power Ranger from the shopping cart, pressing it against his bosom.
Jason crept to the figure crawling weakly to the metal table. The treacherous hands shook, groping for something to hang on to. Finally, the fiend collapsed, the head rested against the metal grooves of the table.
Jason struck his finger out and pressed it along the bumpy surface, hot from the sun, and slid it from one end to the other, where blood flowed, guided by the metal railings. He swiped his finger in it and pressed the warm, stickiness to his Power Ranger’s mouth.
He bobbed his head and smiled in triumph. He shoved his bloodied hand on the antagonist’s face, leaving an imprint of blood above the dull brown eye. He pushed the face into the edge of the seat. He bared his teeth and narrowed his eyes and snickered at the still form. He sucked the rest of the blood from his finger and put his Power Ranger back to rest, the treasure of his belly.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Power Ranger