Cindy, Mindy, and Bob; The Slingshot
Cindy, Mindy, and Bob began as bedtime stories for my children many years ago. Over the years, Cindy, Mindy and Bob have grown, changed, died, been saved and revived. The three older kids personified Cindy, Mindy and Bob. Now they live in our three younger children, to continue teaching morals, values, and good old tradition.
Bob wanted to take a walk. He had a new slingshot, and he wanted to try it out. His birthday had been a month ago, but the weather was cold. Too cold to play outside. This morning, the sun shone warmly, and Bob excitedly finished his chores.
Cindy wanted to visit her friend. Mindy wanted to play at the park. Bob wanted to shoot his slingshot. All three children cheerfully cleaned their rooms, helped mommy with the dusting, then helped daddy take out the trash. At last it was lunch time, and after that, free time.
During lunch, Bob planned how he would ask about the slingshot. He didn’t want mommy and daddy to say no. He wanted to hunt. Bob imagined hunting with his slingshot, bringing home food for supper. He daydreamed so much, in fact, that he hardly ate his sandwich. As everyone finished, and began making afternoon plans, Bob grew nervous. It was now or never.
“I was wondering. Daddy, do you think I could take my slingshot down by the river, and try it out?” Bob tried not to seem too anxious.
“Well… I suppose you can do that, if your sisters will go. I don’t want you down by the river all alone.” Daddy looked at the girls, wondering if they would change their plans.
Cindy complained first, “I don’t want to go to the river. I have plans with my friend. We want to finish our homework and hang out. Pleeeaaaassssse. I never get to go to her house. It’s not fair. Bob always gets what he wants.”
Mindy interrupted, “No. I don’t want to go to the river either. It’s too cold. Come on Bob. Let’s ride bikes.”
Bob looked hopefully at daddy, “Could I ride bikes with Mindy, and bring my slingshot?” Bob loved riding bikes more than anything. He could go fast, pretending to be a fire truck, or a police car, or an airplane. If he could bring his slingshot too, he could pretend to be a cowboy, fighting Indians.
Daddy shook his head, “I’m sorry Bob, but the slingshot is not a toy. You can’t play with it where there will be other children around. You do remember the rules, don’t you?”
Bob shook his head, confused. Rules? He didn’t remember any rules. Mommy gently touched his arm, “Remember Bob, no shooting at people. Or pets. Or any animals for that matter. No property. No windows. No cars. No houses.” She looked at daddy, “Does that cover all the rules?”
He nodded in agreement, “I think so. No people, pets or property. I think that does cover it. And you must always have someone with you. Either one of your sisters, or one of us. If you can follow those rules, maybe you can walk up to the train tracks and shoot it up there.”
For a moment, Bob was disheartened. There was nothing to shoot by the tracks. Not even any trees. But, daddy did say he could use it. Now he just needed to convince his sister. He knew it was no use asking Cindy. She hardly liked to hang out with him anyway. If she had plans, she would never agree. He looked hopefully at Mindy.
“Maybe we could ride bikes for a while, then go up to the tracks. Would you like to do that?”
Mindy smiled. She knew her younger brother really wanted to try out his birthday present. “Sure Bob. After we ride bikes a while, I’ll take a walk with you.”
As the children got their jackets and shoes, daddy got the sling shot out of its hiding place. He kept it up, out of reach of the children, to help them avoid temptation.
As he handed it to Bob, he reiterated, “Remember son, no people, pets or property.”
“Yes daddy. I remember.” Bob excitedly slid the sling shot into his back pocket. He and Mindy raced to the garage, laughing excitedly about the game they wanted to play.
“Ok, you be the son, and I’ll be the mother. And let’s say the Indians are chasing us. After we zoom around the block, we can park our bikes and pretend we’re hiding by the train tracks.” Mindy immediately began directing their game, who would say what, how they would behave, what they would do next. Bob didn’t care. He was glad to be outside, and excited to try the new slingshot.
They rode their bikes around the neighborhood several times, until Mindy said, “Ok son, the Indians are right behind us. Lets hide the horses and see if we can get away with our lives. I hope you have lots of ammunition.”
Mindy and Bob hid their bikes behind some old trees, which lay at the end of a dirt road. Beyond the trees and stumps, the tracks snaked between two sage covered hills. The children crouched low and took cover behind a towering cottonwood tree. Bob scanned the ground for rocks.
“Mindy, help me find some rocks, and I’ll let you shoot my slingshot.”
“You should call me mommy. That’s my name in the game.” She whispered angrily, while searching the ground for the perfect rock. She picked up many, filling her jacket and jeans pockets.
Bob’s first attempt hit him on the foot. The rock he used was almost as large as his young hand, and pulling back the rubber of the slingshot, he let go with a might grunt. The rock dropped straight onto his foot, it’s weight too great for the small slingshot to overcome.
“This stupid thing doesn’t even work.” Bob’s temper and patience were both short. Exasperated, he unloaded all the rocks from his pocket. Each was a large as the one that had landed on him.
“Son, maybe you need smaller rocks. I’ll help you find some.” Mindy had picked rocks far too large as well, so she hurriedly emptied all her pockets of the useless ammo. Mindy insisted on staying ‘in character’, so bustled about with the authority she imagined a real mom would have. “Here, these are just the right size. Try them. Son, watch out. I see Indians.”
Mindy cowered behind a log while Bob once again attempted to shoot a rock. This time, it sprang forth, about two feet. “Great, you scared them off. We’re safe. Now let me have a turn.”
Mindy reached for the slingshot, but Bob stepped back. “No Mindy, I’m not through practicing yet. Let me try some more.”
“If you want me to play, you have to call me mommy. If you don’t let me have a turn, I’ll go home and tell, and you’ll get in trouble. Now give it to me.”
While she spoke, Bob busily loaded another rock into the sling. This time, it sailed up over the embankment and onto the train tracks.
“Awesome!” He shouted, quickly loading another rock. Pulling his arm back, he let the rock fly, and again it arced gracefully up and away.
“Let me try. It’s my turn. Come on Bob. Give it.” Mindy continued whining, until Bob finally handed over the slingshot. She loaded her first rock, pulled the tubing back and let go. The rock bounced near her feet. “This sucks. It doesn’t even work.”
Bob walked cockily over, “Let me show you. I have a good arm.” He reached for the slingshot, but Mindy had already loaded another rock. This time, it flew a little farther, but still landed disappointingly close.
They spent time, shooting two rocks, then switching turns. While one shot, the other looked for rocks. It continued peacefully, until an intruder appeared.
Ted glared menacingly at the children. The neighborhood bully struck fear into every child he encountered. He crept up the old road and through the trees, hand extended for Bob’s new toy. “Give me that.”
Mindy straightened up. She looked at Ted, then looked at Bob, then tried to guess the distance to their bikes. They were too far to be reached easily. “We aren’t allowed to share. Our dad said we couldn’t let anyone play with this. It’s too dangerous. Anyway, it’s time for us to go. Come on Bob. Let’s go before we get grounded.”
Mindy started toward the bikes, hoping Ted couldn’t smell the fear wafting off her on the cool breeze. Suddenly, she felt very hot. Beads of sweat gathered across her forehead and her stomach churned.
Bob stood his ground. You can’t play with my slingshot. My dad said. He said it’s too dangerous. We aren’t allowed to let anyone play with it.”
“I don’t care what your dad said. Give it to me, before I come over there and take it from you, you little jerk.” Ted towered over young Bob, but Bob met his gaze squarely. “Stop staring at me, and give me that slingshot. Don’t make me hurt you.”
“Well, I guess you can try it out. But then you have to give it back.” Before Bob could finish speaking, Ted had yanked the slingshot out of his hand. He loaded a rather large stone into the sling and pulled the tubing back fiercely. “That won’t shoot”, Bob informed, “the rock is too big. You need to find a smaller one.”
“You need to shut up, so I can aim. If I miss, I’ll kick your puny little butt.” As he spoke, Ted aimed at a car, parked near the last house on the lane.
“You aren’t allowed to aim at cars. No people, pets, or property. That’s the rule. Our dad said.” Mindy looked worriedly, as Ted let the rock fly. It soared perfectly through the air, and crashed through the rear window of the van, leaving an almost perfectly round hole.
“That rocks!” Ted turned and aimed up in the tree, to a squirrel, perched cautiously on a branch. Before the children could object, the dead squirrel landed near their feet. It’s tiny body twitched, head bleeding, for only a few seconds.
Mindy began crying, walking toward their bikes. “Umm. I need my slingshot back. It’s time for us to go.” Bob tried to sound brave. Inside, he feared Ted, and he worried what daddy would say when he heard about the broken window.
“You can go, I don’t care. But you can’t have the slingshot. This is mine. You little kids beat it, before I aim for you next.” As he spoke, Ted pulled the sling back, sending another rock toward the parked van. It missed the window, but hit the back panel with a loud clang. Dogs began barking at the racket. “I’d like to hit one of those noisy dogs. That’d shut ‘em up. Stupid dogs. They bark all the time.” Ted aimed another rock and let loose.
Mindy grabbed Bob by the arm, “Come on, let’s go get daddy. He’ll get your slingshot back.” They headed toward their bikes, and as they mounted to ride away, Mindy shouted back to Ted, “You’re gonna get in a lot of trouble Ted.” Then she pedaled furiously, to get out of range. Heart pounding, blood pumping, legs working faster than they ever had, her bike quickly wobbled down the gravel road.
Just as they reached the parked van, Mindy felt a sharp pain in the back of her head. Losing control of her bike, she crashed full speed into the vehicle, her body slamming into it before falling on the dirt. Bob, just behind her, saw her careen out of control. He thought she slid on the loose gravel. Throwing his bike to the ground, he rushed to his sister’s side.
Mindy lay on ground, unconscious. Her nose and mouth were covered in blood. Bob tried to wake her, to no avail. He shook her gently, calling her name. For a moment he forgot all about Ted and the slingshot. As he tried to wake his sister, he noticed the back of her head soaked with warm blood. Bob began crying as he realized that Ted hit her with a rock.
He stared toward the end of the road, looking for Ted. Either Ted had run away, or he was hiding. Either way, Bob couldn’t see him. He felt alone and scared. He was just a little kid. A big kid hurt his sister. He didn’t want to leave her, but he knew he needed help. Bob covered Mindy with his jacket, and ran to the nearest house, the one with the barking dogs. He could see two large shepherds jumping behind the fence, barking ferociously. Bob decided to turn back and get his bike. Then he could get daddy. Returning to Mindy, Bob noticed the ground beneath her head dark with blood. He knew he had to hurry.
Bob rode home as quickly as his young legs would carry him. Running in the house, he didn’t even take his shoes off.
“Daddy, come quick. Mindy is hurt.” Without asking any questions, dad ran to the car, followed closely by Bob. As the made the short trip to the end of the road, Bob told daddy exactly what had happened.
“I knew I should never have let you have a slingshot. This is all my fault.” Daddy shook his head sadly. When he saw Mindy laying on the ground, he jumped out of the car. “Bob, open the back door, so I can lay her on the seat.”
Daddy and Bob rushed Mindy to the hospital. By the time they got there, she was awake, and crying. Daddy explained to the doctor what happened, and he put stitches in her head. They made Mindy stay overnight, for observation.
In the hospital room the next day, daddy sat on the bed, with Cindy and Bob on his knees. Mommy sat near Mindy’s head, on a chair. “Well children, I hope you have learned a lesson. Slingshot’s are dangerous, and should never be used as a toy. We’re lucky Mindy wasn’t killed.”
“I learned another lesson too, “ said Bob sadly, “whenever I see Ted, I’m going to run away. He’s mean. Daddy, do you think you can get my slingshot back?”
“I’m sorry Bob, but I think our family is done with that for a while. Now, who wants ice cream on the way home?”