Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Never Never Again

Category: Issue 20

“Hook, Hook, where’s the Hook?  Hook, Hook, where’s the Hook?”  The chant of the dirty-bearded pirates with their swords held high waiting for their renowned captain to address them.  It seems like only yesterday since I saw the film debut of Hook in the local movie theater with my dad and older brother.  The butter of the popcorn seems to drip off the tip of my tongue, and the coolness of Coca-cola seems to quench my present-day thirst.  The funny game-playing of the Lost Boys and the high-flying heroic theatrics of the great Peter Pan created a world for me that was just as real as the world I had been living in when I was a five year old boy.  Never NeverLand- a place with the most exciting adventures.  From Peter Pan getting his happy thought to the epic duel of Pan vs. Captain James Hook and his pirates, Never NeverLand became a place I believed in completely.  And no man frightened me more than Captain Hook.  He smashed every clock that made a ticking sound.  He killed Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys, with one quick thrust of his blade.  He even put one of his own pirates in a boo-box filed with scorpions and the most horrible stench imagined.
“Peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks.”  Peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks,” the vendor walked up and down each and every row of steps.  Restless as a little dog being held onto by a leash, I finally got my older brother and my dad to take me to buy tickets and play games in the Reading Phillies baseball stadium’s fun land.  Jumping up and down on the moon bounce, throwing speed pitch, playing miniature golf, and stuffing down fluffy pink cotton candy, I was one boy on a clear mission for pure enjoyment with nothing standing in my way.  Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a tall man with long black hair and a mustache.  My eyelids refused to blink as if they had a mind of their own knowing all too well one split second of darkness could have signified my impendable doom.  How could this be? 
Quickly I snuck under the back of my dad’s t-shirt grasping him as if a tornado was about to sweep through the whole stadium.
“What’s wrong, Spence?”  my dad asked me.
Not a word came out of my mouth.  A lump the size of a grape became lodged in my esophagus.  To just utter one word would be a heroic deed by itself.  My body’s vibrations carried their way onto my dad’s chest. 
“Spence, why are you shaking?”
My dad just didn’t get it.  How could I go from one second wanting to break away from him just to play more games to hiding under his shirt as if my very life was being threatened?  Finally, my nine year old brother, Tyler, grasped me from the hidden comfort of the fluffy cotton interior.
“What do you see that is scaring you?” asked Tyler.
With tears cascading down my cheeks, I pointed to that same tall man with long black hair and a mustache.  Still gasping for breath while all the other kids were jumping around, I finally broke my lengthy silence.  Two words were it all took for my brother to understand the fear that forced my eyes open.  The fear that made my arms resemble a miniature version of the Rocky Mountains.
Leaning closely to my brother’s left ear as if I was revealing to him my greatest secret, I kept pointing and said, “Captain Hook.”
“Captain Hook?  That’s not Captain Hook.  He’s just a man with long black hair and a mustache”
“No!” I said.  “That man is Captain Hook!  And he’s out to get us!  We have to leave the game now… right now!”
Overhearing our conversation, my dad with a slight smile on his face said, “Spence.  That man is not Captain Hook.  If he were Captain Hook, don’t you think everyone here would be afraid and wanting to leave the game as well?”
Those words were almost enough to drive me to the brink of insanity.  Who was he to tell me that was man was not Captain Hook?
“Dad, that is Captain Hook.  Look at his long black hair and mustache.  Dad, please why don’t you just look… why? 
My voice at this point echoed more across the stadium than the voice of the actual announcer over the loudspeakers introducing the batting lineup of the Reading Phillies…all because I knew what Hook would do.  Hook would make us walk the plank and feed us to the fishes.  He just would.
“That’s Captain Hook!”  “We need to go, Dad.  We have to!”
“How ‘bout we just go up to him and ask him if he is Captain Hook.  I bet you he will say no and then you will feel perfectly fine.”
“No,” I insisted.  Dad,  you are crazy.”
What was my dad even thinking?  Did he not know what Hook was capable of?  He would have us trapped in a net casted high above starboard for all his pirates to gawk at us at if we were some human treasure. 
Now I was looking right at Hook and watching his every movement.  Suddenly, he stared right into my eyes.  I knew who Hook was, and Hook knew who I was.  Oh man, Spencer.  Not enough time to drool and growl. Not even enough time to put on a hat and a fake pair of silver teeth…
“Dad, please we need to go.  Please!!!”
“Ok, Spence.  The game is not over yet, but we can leave.  Let’s go, Tyler, it’s getting late anyways.”
At that moment all I saw was the cobblestone pavement as I rushed out of that stadium with my dad and older brother.  I quickly leapt into the backseat of the car. The seatbelt locked in place so tight I felt like I could have been one of the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 embracing for lift-off.  I finally got the motivation to brush away the foggy residue from the window.  Hook wasn’t there… Thank God!  I somehow managed to fall asleep that night… don’t ask me how.  All I remember is closing my eyes and burying myself within a fortress of covers protected by the only one I knew I could most trust in such times of epic confusion… Scooby Doo.