When I was a child, my parents always told me I had too active of an imagination. Now, it’s usually my wife that tells me that. I’m often caught spacing out, daydreaming of all sorts of ridiculous ideas and scenarios.
Ever since I can remember I loved to draw. Any piece of paper I could get my hands on turned into little doodles of whatever was happening in my life. My family was one of my favorite subjects and my parents still have stacks of cartoons I drew of them.
One of the major influences to my imagination growing up was superhero comic books. I used to mow lawns all around my neighborhood and blow the money I earned on the latest adventures of Spider-man, Batman and Superman.
After school my brothers and I would go out into the back woods behind our house and play. I would imagine I was a Robin Hood sort of figure: friend of the forest and enemy to evil!
When I was 11 years old, I decided it was time I stepped it up a bit. I was tired of simply reading about these superheroes; I wanted to be one. The way I figured was if Bruce Wayne can be Batman without any super-powers, why couldn’t I?
I spent a good week preparing for my superhero debut. I didn’t have a fancy utility belt like Batman, but I managed to scrounge up some rope, a slingshot, a squirt gun and a bag of pepper I planned to throw in some criminal’s eyes if the situation presented itself.
The next step was acquiring a costume. I couldn’t ask my mom to sew me one for fear of exposing my secret identity. I cut some holes in a bandana for a mask, set my trusty one-piece pajamas to the side and a towel wrapped around like a cape.
And thus the Quincy Crusader was born.
The day before my debut I walked around the halls of Pioneer Elementary with a little smirk on my face. I was a superhero and everyone thought I was just James Wilson, mild-mannered fourth-grader. The day dragged on with anticipation of the upcoming night’s events.
Finally, 9 p.m. rolled around and I was sent to bed. I closed my door and waited until I was sure my parents were busy and couldn’t hear me. I slipped into my Crusader costume and crawled out my bedroom window.
I gathered my weapons and began cruising the neighborhood. The night was mine!
As I started my patrol around East Quincy, I tried to stick to the shadows. At times I just hid behind some bushes in my neighbors’ lawns as the occasional car passed by.
About an hour into my patrol I thought, “Man, East Quincy sure isn’t as lively as Gotham City.”
I had been out looking for thugs for an hour now and all I’d seen was a handful of cars and a couple dogs. Then I hit the mother lode.
Only four blocks from my house were some teenagers throwing a party. Out front were two boys and a girl drinking some beers and smoking cigarettes.
I recognized a couple of them from my oldest brother Joe’s class. I could immediately see that these guys were breaking the law: out past their curfew and obviously too young to drink or smoke.
I pumped myself up and gathered as much courage as I could to face these guys. Slowly I started sneaking up on them. As I got within about 30 feet of the delinquents out front, I slinked behind a bush.
My heart was racing; these guys were six years older than I and quite a bit bigger. I rethought my approach and decided on using the slingshot. I grabbed a stone from my pocket, pulled it back in the sling and let it go.
“What was that?” I remember one of them saying. “Did you hear something?”
I shot another stone, and another. I don’t think I hit anyone, but I could hear their voices getting a little higher. I could hear the fear in their voices.
Then, one of them noticed me. “There’s something in that bush next door,” said one of the boys.
That was my cue to make my grand debut as the Quincy Crusader. I tucked my slingshot into my onesie and jumped out into the light beaming from the streetlamp.
I tucked all the fear I had inside and bellowed out in my 11-year-old voice, “It is I, the Quincy Crusader! And you punks chose the wrong night to break the law!”
As I stood there in my pajamas and towel, the three teenagers looked around at each other with very puzzled looks on their faces. Then one of them asked another, “Hey, isn’t that Joe’s little brother?”
My heart skipped a beat. Somehow these devious criminals got to the bottom of my secret identity! I turned around and hightailed it home as fast as I could.
As I tried to climb up to my bedroom window I stubbed my tow. I stifled my yell so as to not wake up my parents, climbed inside and crawled into bed.
The next day over breakfast I recalled my previous night’s adventure and decided I might not be ready to take up the cowl. If a couple of teenagers could figure out my secret identity, than pretty much anyone could.
As I grew older I guess I grew out of my superhero phase. Every now and then, though, I’ll get an itch to go out and patrol the neighborhood. In fact, I still have my trusty slingshot and am sure I can always get more rope. Maybe the Quincy Crusader hasn’t had his last adventure after all …