KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Tanka Tale: 410 words

Upside Down

by Bob Lucky

In the 5th grade I joined a gang. We modeled ourselves on Robin Hood and his Merrie Men and went around the playground during recess whacking each other with staff-like sticks, shooting imaginary deer with imaginary bows and arrows, and trying to identify underdogs who needed rescuing. There were no girls in our gang. We had a Maid Marian in mind, but none of us was brave enough to ask her to join.

the fragrance
of a mimeographed test—
the girl
in the desk behind me
steals my pencil

One warm spring afternoon Little John, Friar Tuck, and I (Robin Hood because I had a hat with a feather in it) were at the soda fountain downtown enjoying a lime freeze. Two teenagers, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the rival town’s mascot, were at the other end of the counter smoking cigarettes. I decided they needed to be saved from themselves, so on the count of three, in unison, we warned them, “Smoking is bad for your health!” It got very quiet. The only sound was the slurping noise of Friar Tuck trying get the last of the lime freeze out of the bottom of his glass. “What did you say?” one of them asked. “Uh, smoking is uh bad for your health,” we stammered.

They both stood up and walked over to us. I was trying hard to suck the last of my lime freeze through the straw, but that’s hard to do when you’re not breathing. “Maybe,” the good-looking one said, and he looked like a French Bulldog on steroids, “we should stub these out on your nose.” And as if on cue, they waved their cigarettes in our faces and we made a dash for the door. “To the library,” Little John shouted.

They cornered us in the children’s section. Friar Tuck was reading a copy of Green Eggs and Ham upside down. Little John and I hadn’t picked out a book yet. “Don’t think for a minute the librarian is going to save you,” the not so good-looking one said. “No,” a voice cried out, “but the Sheriff of Nottingham will.” It was Maid Marian. That left us all speechless for a moment until she started shouting, “Police! Police!” There was a scramble for the door. To anyone watching, it would’ve looked as if we were running off the bad guys.

of the first puff—
stealing a kiss
behind the garage
in broad daylight

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