Author’s Note: I wrote this short story nearly four years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it is really a modern take on “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by Walter Thurber and comes from a female perspective. Some of the themes may be a little dark for the G rating. It is truly fiction bordering on science fiction ala Spider Man or the Flash.
He passed me on the highway. I was doing, well, let’s just call it 65, and he was doing much more. I didn’t catch more than a glimpse, but he intrigued me. He was dressed in the stereotypical black riding leathers with no helmet and just a dirty red bandana. But what really caught my eye was the emblem on the back of his jacket. I don’t remember the pictures, but the words, oh the words. As a writer, words sing to me in ways that pictures never do. Guardian Knights.
I spent the rest of my commute, work day, and reverse commute lost in thought. Not your typical administrivia flavored with a hint of politics…but my favorite type of thought…people stories. I’m sure psychologists have some fancy name for it other than imagination.
As an introvert, I walk into a crowded room, find the least crowded spot, and start watching people. I begin writing these stories about their lives in my head. Some are exciting—that man with raven hair and electric blue eyes is a high power lawyer working on a top secret case and he jets around the globe. Others are just dull—that woman with the straight grey hair in a pony tail is weary…you can tell by the creases around her eyes that she has been babysitting for her daughter, a single mom working two jobs to scrape by, and the older woman is lost in thought about the logistics of getting everyone where they need to go.
Sometimes I do the same thing on the road or in a grocery store. But today that man stuck in my head. I imagined about the types of people who would wear the emblem of the Guardian Knights. They were old soldiers and fathers who learned to fight because their children had been hurt. There were a few legal eagles who gave up the good life to help the poor and needy. There were convicts who had paid their debt to society, gone on the straight and narrow, but still had a deep need to practice old skills. All in all, this ragamuffin band kept contact with a variety of means ranging from the archaic typewritten letter to quick alphabet soup texts.
They worked together to bring justice. Not your typical courtroom justice where the violent ex gets off on a technicality or kids are returned to their abusers because there are no marks that the patriarchal system can find or the old lady gets evicted because she can only pay the rent that the town used to have before it became a bedroom community to the capital city.
Down home, punishment fits the crime, vigilante justice – a man is found with his underwear so tight about his bottom end that he sings soprano for the rest of his life (his tastes ran to girls…little girls who should have been playing dolls not doctor); kids mysteriously disappear only to be found well educated and physically fit and emotionally sound after they turn 18 (the divorced mothers look but not too hard, and the fathers don’t care anymore because the bedroom trophies and control pawns are gone); the little old lady comes into an unexpected inheritance and moves into a gated retirement community only days before a “gas leak” turns her tenement to ashes.
Not really the kind of thing a good Christian woman would support, but only a hypocrite can’t admit a part of their heart cheers when these kind of stories are told and the cops can’t find a perpetrator.
Eventually, I bring myself back to my reality, life as a single parent. I hide my aches and pains from the rest of the world—the ex who won’t go away and keeps finding ways to bring misery and lost funds; the beautiful, loving kids with the different brains who can’t answer the boxes on tests right; the never ending bills with a limit on the funds to pay them. The people stories are just a game, something to challenge my mind. There are any number of hobbies I’d like to take up—counted cross-stitch, hiking, ballroom dancing, scuba diving, spelunking—but Chastity and Charity can’t organize information any better than their bedrooms and Hope is in her own little world again. So, you give up on the dreams, put them away, and pull out the skillet to start turkey burger to use in Hamburger Helper, your minor contribution to your children’s health today.
The door bell rings. Without thinking, forgetting all the safety rules because chaos and exhaustion reign, I open the door. It’s that same guy. His motorcycle is cooling, parked across the back of my decade-old Chevy. He takes off his bandana and wipes his forehead. I’m speechless.
“Ma’am, we hear you have some issues that you’ve been trying to resolve. If you’ll give me a drink of some of that fresh well water—city stuff is so polluted with chemicals that are supposed to help—I’ll tell you about my friends and our big plans for your little family.” A southern drawl no less…how quaint…and downright intriguing…
Life has never been the same.