I shouted at Wronwright, signaling to him to start recording. He swept the camera to his eye and began shooting.
Mrs. Doherty was holding a sign with a purple SEIU t-shirt nailed to it, and emblazoned with the words, “Purple is the New Red”. It was festooned with little hammers and sickles. The union guys seemed to take extreme umbrage at the sentiment.
“Well, well, well!” the one named Kowalski said. “My, grandma, what a great big sign you got! That sign looks a little too big for you, don’t it boys?”
Mrs. Doherty stood her ground. “Back off, plum belly!”
Kowalski grabbed the sign, ripped the shirt off of it, and broke the pole over his knee. That’s when he noticed Wronwright capturing the whole thing with his camera. An evil smile crossed his face, and he made a come-hither waggle with his index finger. “C’mere, Ichabod.” Wronwright backed up slowly, but he waited just a second too long, and Kowalski clopped him one on the side on the head, knocking him down. Wron quickly rolled over and jumped up.
As Kowalski and his pals closed in on Wron, I shouted, “Wronwright. Lateral!”
Wronwright tossed the camera to me. Although all three of the union boys may well have played first-string defensive linemen in high school (or college, if they made it that far and didn’t get expelled for cheating or setting the cafeteria on fire), they’d never have made it as running backs. As soon as they managed to trot over to me, I sprang out of their reach and tossed the camera to Sheila. Back and forth it went, the people around us cheering us on in our game of keep-away.
The SEIU goons quickly lost steam, and were soon panting like overweight bulldogs after a long walk on a hot day. Unfortunately, the last toss was short, and it landed in the arms of Junior. Kowalski, finally finding someone he thought he could push around with impunity, roared, “Gimme that!” and grabbed the camera out of Junior’s hands, knocking his snow-cone on the ground.
This turned out to be what is frequently referred to as a fatal mistake – almost literally in this case. Although the sun was shining brightly, we were abruptly enveloped in deep shadow, as if we’d experienced a sudden solar eclipse. It was not, of course, a regular eclipse, but another awesome natural phenomenon . Tiny had returned to our little group, and the momentary alignment of the sun and his massive bulk had cast a cooling shade over us.
On seeing Kowalski lay hands on his pride and joy, Tiny roared like some gigantic and angry carnivore from the late Cretaceous period. Kowalski, as previously indicated, was a man of above-average heft, but he became mere putty in Tiny’s hands, and after a minute or so that’s pretty much what he looked like.
Tiny pounded him, stretched him, and molded him into a succession of different fanciful figures, finally dropping him on the ground, in the manner of an artist who has ultimately turned out to be dissatisfied with the quality of his modeling material. Kowalski’s colleagues, apparently having convinced themselves that their friend would have wanted them to escape the deadly encounter in order to cherish his memory, and perhaps lay flowers on his grave every Labor Day, had vanished.
Tiny rushed to take his son into his arms; however, Junior, far from having been hurt, had been delighted by the antics of the grownups, although he took a moment to reproach his father.
“Looks like yer slippin’, Pop. That chump’s still breathin’.”
Kowalski groaned and rolled over on his back. The color of his face now perfectly matched the color of his shirt (what was left of it). He eased his way – one might almost say he staggered – to a sitting position, spit out a few teeth, and blinked several times, trying to assure himself that he was, indeed, still among the living. When he glimpsed Tiny looming in the offing, he began skittering backwards along the sidewalk on his hands and feet like a crab on hot sand.
“Keep away from me!” he screamed.
I sauntered over and helped him to his feet. “Had enough mister?”
He nodded furiously.
I laid it out for him. “We’ve got a movie of you assaulting that little old lady, so if you and your pals ever show up at one of these rallies again, I’m turning it over to the police. Oh, and just so you’ll know, I expect that big fellah over there to be in regular attendance at these Tea Party demonstrations for the foreseeable future.”
The only kind of future Kowalski wanted to experience was one completely devoid of Tiny Weismans. He meekly agreed to keep himself and his companions out of mischief, and slouched off.
I bid farewell to Tiny, and thanked him for his help, and I slipped Junior a buck to buy himself another snow cone. Turning to Mrs. Doherty, I asked if she had been hurt. She scowled.
“You know, if that human utility shed hadn’t thrust himself forward, I would have had a clear shot at that Kowalski weasel with my can of mace.” I assured her that there were plenty of other evil doers in the world worthy of her attention, so she should stay tuned.
Then I went over to Wronwright to see how he was doing.
“You ok, partner? That looked like a pretty nasty wallop the guy gave you.”
Wronwright pulled off his hat and smiled. “This thing’s so big I stuffed it with newspapers so it’d fit better. I didn’t feel a thing.”
“Well, good work, buddy. That video makes all the difference. I told that union goon he’d better never show his mug around these parts again, or I’d turn your movie over to the authorities.”
Wronwright stared at the ground and shuffled his feet. “I, uh, hope we won’t need the video, Paco.”
“What do you mean.”
“The battery in the camera died about 30 seconds after I started shooting.”
“What?!? Didn’t you get any of that?”
“Well, I guess the battery was low, anyway, and I was using the camera a little earlier to, uh, sort of warm up and get it properly focused and, er, so forth. So, when the action started, I just faked filming it. I figured the SEIU guys wouldn’t know the difference. And they didn’t, obviously, because that one thug tried to take my head off.”
“Didn’t you have another battery?”
“Yeah, but by the time the camera had run out of juice, the union boys were already tearing up the old lady’s sign and were coming after me. I didn’t have time to change it.”
Sheila was standing nearby, with a smirk on her pretty map. “Why don’t you tell him what you were wasting your battery on, Wron?”
“No, no! It’s not important.”
Sheila held her hand out. “Wron, give me that camera.”
Wronwright turned it over. For some reason, his ears had turned the color of a glass of cranberry juice.
Sheila rummaged around in the pack until she found the spare battery. She installed it, set the camera for replay and handed the camera to me. “Have a look.”
I switched it on and watched the replay. There, on the viewer, was Sheila, in full-body profile, dressed in her low-cut yellow tank-top and cut-off jeans, her matchless convexity, fore and aft, showing to perfection. Now she was reaching her hands behind her head and gathering up her abundant golden air, twisting it into a temporary pony tail and fanning her neck. The lens began a slow zoom until the viewer was filled with the image of two firm, bronzed breasts, from which the heat had brought forth a shimmering glow. Suddenly, the breasts were facing the camera squarely, and the lens zoomed out a lot faster than it had zoomed in, and there was Sheila, once again in full-body display, shaking her fist at the camera and voicing sentiments not unlike those frequently expressed by her mother. Then, as they say in the movie business, the image faded to black. I confess that I was so shocked that I felt compelled to watch the video again, just to make sure I wasn’t mistaking what I had seen.
I looked directly at Wronwright. “Man, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
Sheila piped up, sarcastically. “Paco, do you always grin like a hyena when you tell somebody that?”
“What? Oh. No, no, I wasn’t grinning. The sun was in my eyes and I was simply, you know, squinting and scrunching up my face.”
Sheila rolled her eyes and walked away, uttering that timeless imprecation that has been delivered by women through the ages - “Men!”