Bobby the Brave
by Ben Alirez
“And so this verse in Ephesians tells us to put on the full armor of God,” Grandpa explained, “and to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.”
As the older gentleman looked over at his precious grandson, he noticed the undeniable anxiety and fear on his face. “What’s the matter, Bobby? You didn’t like the message I read?”
The young child shrugged in sadness.
“What is it, little guy?”
“I’m scared, Grandpa,” he admitted. “I saw the news when I was eating my cereal.”
The elderly man grinned in understanding, scratching his head some. “Can I let you in on a little secret?”
The boy’s eyes were wide as saucers. “Uh-huh.”
The grandfather leaned in close. “Now don’t you go tellin’ Grammy,” he whispered, “but I’m a little scared, too.”
“Well sure. You wanna know why?”
The boy nodded.
“Cause it’s natural to be scared about something we don’t understand.”
“But you know what else?”
The boy shook his head this time.
“There are very smart people working in Los Angeles to fix this whole thing. And I have a good feeling they’re gonna figure it out pretty soon.”
“So what do we do then?” asked Bobby.
“What we’re doing now,” Grandpa confirmed. “Spend time together. Practice this thing they call physical distancing.”
“I don’t know what that means, Grandpa. I just feel like I’m on the biggerest timeout ever.”
The grandfather laughed at the notion. “Yup, that’s pretty much what it is, Bobby.”
Bobby’s eyebrows furrowed as another thought crossed his mind. “And Jasmine and Lizzy said there’s cooties everywhere.”
Grandpa crossed his arms out front. “That’s about right too. Some people are getting sick. Some real, real sick.”
“You mean, like cooties are fer real? Like at my school when a girl touches me?”
The grandfather suppressed a laugh. Instead, a wistful smile stretched across his face. He couldn’t help but rejoice at the innocence of youth and days when life was so much simpler. “I got a feeling you might feel differently in a few years, but you got the general idea. No, what we’re talking about here are super cooties, and near as they can tell, they mostly affect grammies and grandpas and people who are not as strong as they used to be. Not so much kiddos like you or strong people like your mommy and daddy.”
The boy’s head tilted to one side. “So why does everybody have to stay home from school then? Well, not Joey. He lives next door and he’s home schooled.”
“Well … because the super cooties are real sneaky like, you see, and they can hide on people and they might not even know it. Then, when the cooties see a person with white or grey hair—or no hair like me—they jump out and cause lots of problems. But … if we don’t go out unless we absolutely have to, we might not ever get the cooties.”
“Oh.” Suddenly the grandchild looked all about him in confusion. Not satisfied, he pulled on the collar of his shirt and looked down at his chest and stomach.
Grandpa shook his head, himself confused. “What’s happening here?”
“I’m making sure they’re not hiding on me,” the boy said sternly. “I don’t want them jumping on you, Grandpa.”
“I appreciate that, Bobby,” he chuckled.
“Say, I’ll be r-i-g-h-t back.” The boy raced out of the room and bounded back in seconds—this time adorned in a plastic helmet, sword, and shield. A look of conviction was on his face.
Grandpa raised an eyebrow. “Whoa, whatcha got there?”
“It’s my armor!”
“I can see that. What’s it for?”
“For fighting super cooties. I’m gonna be brave and strong for you, Grandpa, just like the verse in, uh, seasons says.”
The grandfather was moved deeply by his grandson. He extended his arms out and the child fell into them.
“I love you, Bobby Boy.”
“I love you too, Grandpa. Say, how would you like to be my horsey?”
Ben Alirez, who retired from the DWP in July 2018 with 33 years of City service, has focused on developing his creative writing. “I’ve always loved to write,” he tells Alive! He’s been working on a two-part young-adult novel about a young boxer struggling with the loss of his brother, and co-authored a young adult novel, “Brothers in Arms,” in 2004. He also contributes to a writing club in the Inland Empire. “I write what’s on my heart at the time they occur,” he tells us. “With this crazy pandemic, I was moved to bring some levity to the circumstances.”