An excerpt from The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son
Dart Safety and the Purple Bikini
by W.Z Snyder
© 2008 William Snyder
Dart Safety and the Purple Bikini (1972)
When Cary Babinski showed up in my driveway I could barley see him for the onrush of late morning sunlight from behind. I had been hanging out in the garage, throwing darts. I spent a lot of time hanging out in that musty old garage that summer. Surfer Girl by Hawthorne’s own Beach Boys was playing on the baby blue transistor radio my father had sent me for Christmas.
“Hey Billy, can I play with you?”
Cary was nine and I was eleven.
“I don’t play, I hang out you little geek,” I unloaded on the goofy little kid.
Now I was plenty goofy myself and had experienced more than my share of derision from those my own age and even more from the older kids in the neighborhood so it was nice to have someone I could shove around once in a while. Cary sat on a sawhorse and watched me throw darts. I was showing off. I was picturing myself as Mingo from the Daniel Boone show throwing knives and hatchets. Mingo’s real name was Ed Ames and I'd seen him demonstrate his real life expertise with hatchet throwing on the Johnny Carson Show earlier that week.
“Let me throw the darts Billy.”
“You’re too young; darts are dangerous and you could get hurt. Then it would be my responsibility.”
“C’mon, I wanna’ play.”
“Shut up and watch the master you little dork.”
I let him retrieve the darts after I threw them. Feeling mighty confident after a few particularly good tosses, I was starting to picture myself in Mingo’s league. Mingo was without a doubt the coolest guy on the Daniel Boone show, cooler than Rosie Greer or Daniel Boone. He was a bad ass Indian dude who had been educated in England.
“Come on Billy, let me play.”
It was pathetic.
I had a bad idea. I picked up a flat yellow carpenter’s pencil and pulled Cary over to the dartboard.
“Now, put this pencil in your mouth.”
“Put the pencil in my mouth?”
“Yeah, like a cigarette.”
I was impatient.
“Ohhhh, your goanna’ knock the pencil outta’ my mouth like Mingo did on with the hatchets on Johnny Carson!”
The kid was excited.
I shoved the pencil into his mouth, backed up a few paces and picked out a dart.
“Yeah, that’s it Babinski, now hold still.”
The kid was shaking as I took careful aim.
“Are you sure you know how to do this Billy?”
“Sure I’m sure, now hold still.”
I was concentrating with everything I had. None too happy with what has going on, Kookie the Wonder Dog began to whimper at me feet.
“Shut up Kookie, I’m trying to concentrate.”
Beads of sweat began to form on Cary Babinski’s forehead as he attempted to stand still with his ear pressed against the dartboard. It was already hot. A prop plane buzzed low overhead. I took careful aim at the yellow pencil. The moist salty ocean air caused the metal and plastic dart feel slippery between my fingers. I squinted. I was one with Mingo. The smell of lawnmower gasoline, sawdust and spilled laundry detergent and the Pacific Ocean breeze filled my lungs as took a deep breath. In one motion, I released the air and the dart, hard and smooth. The dart sailed across the garage.
“ARGHHH!” Babinski bellowed in sheer terror.
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