Knights in Shining Armor

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Six year-old Douggie ran down the hall to his room to complete his costume, then dashed downstairs. He ran out the door by the building's telephone carrying the sword and papier-mâché helmet his grandfather had made, then cut across the courtyard and through the cellar and up the stairs into the back yard where all of the knights were assembled. As if by telepathy they were all wearing bath towels tied around their necks as capes and, as shields they had metal garbage can lids that they had lifted along the way.
The headgear was imaginative, to say the least. Johnny was sporting an aluminum colander as a face mask, it being tied around his head with a length of twine. Bobby had Scotch-taped a floor scrubbing brush to his dad's helmet liner, having used most of a roll of the stuff, Eddie was wearing his father's Airborne overseas cap sideways and had several feather duster feathers stuffed into it and fastened with a safety pin, and Mickey was wearing a stainless steel mixing bowl affixed to his head by his studded cowboy belt, the overflow of green and red plastic studs on leather dangling below his chin. His T-shirt "armor" was made of what appeared to be his entire bottle cap collection ―hundreds of Pepsi, Cream Soda, Blatz, Coca-Cola, Moxie, NeHi, Ballentine, and Hires, bottle caps stuck to it by their cork inserts. And Judy had made a conical hat of blue construction paper with two red ribbons streaming from its peak, and was wearing what looked like a strip of gauzy curtain material as a scarf, the ragged ends of which flowed behind her in the warm summer breeze. Her Toni doll was wearing a conical Dixie paper cup on its head attached by a rubber band around its chin.
The weapons were just as unique; Eddie's broomstick spear with a cardboard point taped to it, Bobby's short sword made from an orange crate slat, Mickey's homemade wooden bow with suction-cupped arrows, and Johnny's sword which was made from an old plunger, the wooden handle having been pushed through the black rubber cup so that he had a hand guard. His father was a plumber by trade, so he had access to some pretty neat stuff. Johnny's sword, however, had an unpleasant odor to it, so he didn't have many opponents in the upcoming battle.
They chose sides, and the "Defenders of the Faith" protected the castle by the tree and wall, laying down their valiant lives for an overacting Princess Judy who, with Princess Toni Doll, used every opportunity to swoon as the rebellious Barons stormed the ramparts as they hopped and skipped to give the illusion of being on horseback. Every so often Judy would come out of her swoon to reattach Toni Doll's conical hat, which had a tendency to pop off and launch itself like an errant rocket. With all of their armor, the blows rained down upon them more enthusiastically than ever before. Johnny's mother's colander caved in to the point that it couldn't hold a Brussels sprout, and rubber-tipped arrows bounced off their helmets and shields making them feel invincible. The rebels stormed the castle and captured princesses Judy and Toni and, as they saved them just as they were about to be boiled in oil, Harry's ice cream bell rang on Glenwood Road announcing the end to the games. With loud shouts of "God save King Arthur!" and "God save the King!" they left Camelot brandishing their swords, spears, garbage can lids and plungers, their soiled bath towels trailing behind them in a cloud of dust as Bobby's scrub brush dangled from his helmet liner at the end of a long, thick, length of Scotch Tape.
When they got to the street they noticed that Jerry the pharmacy delivery man’s little Renault had pulled up in front of Harry's ice cream truck. The tall black man unfolded himself from the car, stood up and stretched, smoothed his dark gray suit and placed his crumpled brown fedora on his head. "Well," he smiled when he saw the kids, "what's goin' on here?"
"We're knights in shining armor and we just saved princesses Judy and Toni from bein' cooked in boilin' oil," Douggie answered rather heroically, and Mickey raised his "armor" to show off the red scalloped welts of the bottle cap "scars" on his pale chest and stomach. "It didn't even hurt . . . much," he said as he lowered his shirt with a wince.
"Is that a fact now," said Jerry in his soft, rounded tones as he grinned at them. "Guess I'm just in time." He doubled over back into the little car and brought out a medium-size paper bag from the passenger seat. "This here's for Mickey, Douggie, and Johnny," he said, reading the label that was stapled to it. "And since you guys all saved the princesses there, I guess it's for all of you. It's from my boss, and he said to hand deliver it to you guys. Sorry I wasn't there when you came by to visit me at the drug store."
Mickey, Johnny, and Douggie stood before him, grinning and with their hands upturned. Jerry looked from one of them to the other and dropped the bag into Mickey's and Douggie’s upturned palms, avoiding Johnny's black, sewage-smelling, plunger-streaked hands, arms and face. Johnny looked like he was wearing war paint. "Okay, kids," said Jerry. "I gotta go and make some deliveries. You enjoy, now,” then he grabbed a cardboard box full of pharmacy bags from the car and loped into the building. They all ran over to Harry's truck, got their ice creams, and dashed around the corner to their stoop and opened the bag. It contained an Aladdin's cave of sweets: licorice whips, Fleers bubble gum, jaw breakers, sour balls, peppermints and Red-Hots.
It was a great cap to their day as knights in shining armor and, with multicolored, sticky streaks on their chins and cheeks, they went inside and delighted in their individual cozy homes for the rest of the day.