I am an avid reader of Paulo Coelho
, live under a flight path next to a train station, and sleep with a noise machine that utilizes the sounds of water and wind. Therefore, I am not surprised to have had the following vision:
In a small fishing village, a young boy bit his nails as he watched the village’s toughest warrior, Warrior, practice archery along the railroad that hugged the shoreline. Warrior was the boy’s idol, and the boy spent most nights dreaming of going into battle with him. The boy’s brow bent as he watched Warrior’s minion, Minion, use his good leg to wobble up the steep grade to the elevated train tracks. Minion labored to set-up a dozen empty Guinness bottles on twelve different timber ties. It took him a considerable amount of time to maneuver between each rail tie that jetted out from beneath the metal rails like the branches used to support a thatch roof.
Warrior watched Minion place the last bottle and tumble like a cannon ball down the steep grade into a small tide pool below.
“Get out of the way, Minion,” he said.
That’s no way to treat Minion, thought the boy. Minion waited until the tide pulled most of the water out from beneath him to try and stand on his good leg. He pulled his lame leg from underneath his bottom, but was not quick enough and the tide pushed his lame leg right back to where it was. He looked at Warrior, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Minion kick own ass.”
“Boy, help Minion to his foot so that I can finish my training. Now, little boy!”
Well I was going to help him anyway, thought the boy. He helped Minion to dry ground, opposite the raised rail tracks.
Warrior held the most exquisite bow in the world and had at least fifty perfectly crafted arrows in his harness. The bow was made from the arm rests of King Lear’s thrown, while the arrows were actually made from King Lear’s femur bones. Warrior took aim, and exhaled so as to say “finally,” and let his first arrow fly. It sailed over the bottles and disappeared into the brush on the other side of the tracks.
The little boy held his breath as Warrior pulled another arrow, and then another, and another. The little boy suddenly feared the safety of his Village, as Warrior hit only one bottle (and to be honest, the little boy had to admit that the strong breeze likely had more to do with that particular bottle falling down).
Warrior’s face turned bright red when he noticed the little boy’s chagrin. He turned to the heavens and asked, “God, why have I missed so many bottles?”
“Because you have bad aim, numb-nuts,” God replied.
The little boy giggled, and Warrior did not take kindly to it.
“Little boy, why don’t you try it if you think it is so easy?”
The little boy waded through the tide pool, climbed up the steep pebble grade, and set up the same twelve bottles along the rail ties (the bottle that Warrior “hit” was still intact). He hurried back to Warrior, “okay, I will try.”
“Here, don’t hurt yourself,” said Warrior. He handed the little boy his bow and arrows.
“Thank you, Warrior, but I do not need your fancy bow and perfectly crafted arrows. I picked up these on my way back,” said the boy. And from his pocket, the boy showed Warrior eleven pebbles.
|AP: Minion, shot again.
Warrior laughed, “If I can’t knock them down with an endless amount of arrows, what makes you think you can do it with eleven pebbles?”
“Because I believe I can,” said the boy, “and I have good aim.”
As he sized up the targets, the boy felt a strong wind coming off the coast in predictable ten second increments. And between lulls, both he and Warrior heard a train coming. Warrior grinned at the little boy and the bottles shook on the steel rail. A plane that streaked overhead roared so loud that it was almost impossible for the boy to concentrate. Waves crashed and the tide pool filled to its highest level yet.
“Well if you want to have a go, you better do it now. And if you do knock down all the bottles, little boy, it shall be you and not me that will be the Village Warrior.”
The Little Boy nodded, blocked out the bloody noise, and took aim. Warrior’s jaw dropped from his coy smile in installments as he watched the little boy hit one bottle after the next. He smashed the first 10 bottles with direct shots.
“Ah, but there are two bottles left and you have but one rock. How do you suspect you will achieve what you say you can now?” asked Warrior. “Not to mention, the train has grown louder. It will be here any second and it, and not you, will knock the bottles down before you even throw your lousy pebble.”
“I told you, I believe, and I have good aim,” said the boy. He shot Warrior a wink for good measure.
The boy ran ten feet to his right, just past Warrior, and with all of his weight on his back foot, threw the pebble towards the closest bottle. The pebble hit the bottle right where it rested on its timber perch. The bottle flipped backwards under its weight through the air like the wheel of the oncoming train, and when it landed on the wooden tie behind it, it knocked the second bottle into the tide pool below. By the time the bottle rolled into the tide pool, the train passed and a new airplane approached. Oh yea, the wind was back too.
Later that night, Warrior asked God, “I had all the tools, yet the boy only had eleven rocks, what gives?”
“Forget the kid. I told you, you have bad aim,” replied God.
“No shit,” thought Warrior.
“You may have had all the tools that you needed to hit the bottles, yet you lacked the skill and desire to hit those particular targets. The little boy carried only pebbles, but he wanted nothing else in the world but to hit those bottles since his only dream in life is to become the Village Warrior,” said God.
Warrior was confused.
“Perhaps you are missing your target because you are aiming for the wrong thing, Warrior,” said God.
“I’m sorry if I’m being dense, God. It’s impossible to sleep with all the noise from the trains and airplanes, but I just don’t get it. You are right, perhaps, that I really didn’t care about hitting the bottles. But if I shouldn’t have aimed for them, then what should I have aimed for?”
“I’ll tell you, but only if you apologize and promise to be nicer to your minion.”
“I promise,” said Warrior.
“Minion, I’m sorry. I’m just cranky from the lack of sleep…all the bloody noise from the trains, planes, water and wind.” Minion flipped his soggy hood off his head and smiled in acceptance.
God imparted his final message before moving on to other heavenly business. “Warrior, you have the finest bow and arrows in the entire world. You spent years crafting your bow, and each day you spend hours fabricating your arrows. Yet by nightfall you curse your bow and disrespect your arrows with your embarrassing aim.
“It’s true,” interrupted Minion.
God continued. “I gave you all the tools you needed to be successful; you possess the skills to make the most beautiful bows and graceful arrows. Son, the target you shall aim for is making bows and arrows, not shooting them.”
Warrior understood, and from that day forward he became known around the world as the finest craftsman of bows and arrows.
The little boy was completely confused by the entire exchange. He had seen Warrior shoot perfectly in combat a number of times. He figured that if Warrior didn’t drink twelve bottles of Guinness, he would have no problem hitting the empty bottles. Nonetheless, he was thrilled to become the town’s Warrior, and even happier to inherit Minion.
Categories: Fiction, Short Story