Sentimental story

A Blast from the Past

Nov 08, 2021

Beep! Beep! Beep! 3:37 am. For the past 5 days, I‘ve been waking up at 3:37 am. As I looked at my wife, Christine, who’s still fast asleep by my side, I reached out and hugged her. She cooed ever so softly and adjusted her body to my side. As I tried to regain sleep, I couldn’t fathom why I kept thinking about the past events. About him. And the Bebop Boys. It was so long ago, and the events seemed to be as real as you and me. It’s as if it was 1984 all over again…

1984. A good year filled with memories with my gang, a group of boys with a streak of Neverland. There’s Danny, the bicycle marauding daredevil who’s utterly obsessed with Ghostbusters. And then there’s Stanley, the standup comic who can do a mean Michael Jackson moonwalk. Together we make a formidable team with me, Pete, as the ring leader on our following missions. We are unstoppable on our quest to make our childhood as memorable as it can be starting that school year.

“So, what are we going to be this Halloween?” Stanley asked as he opened his locker, preparing for the next period.

“Duh, isn’t it obvious?” answered Danny rolling his eyes in the process. Then he hummed a familiar tune that we heard in the movies that summer. “Who you gonna call? ” He chimed.

“Ghostbusters!” All three of us chimed.

“All hands on Deck!” I said. “Bebop Boys forever!”

“Forever!” all three of us chanted.

It was fascinating just to prepare for the stuff this Halloween. My mom was a seamstress. So the costumes were right back in her alley. She had fun measuring us and thinks that we’d be an excellent team in comparison to the ghosts, ghouls, and witches costumes that other kids usually don every Halloween. Ours would be completely different, and in Oregon, where everything was too traditional, we’re breaking free from the norms and would be completely busting out moves.

Stanley and Danny were making this spectacular slime out of flour and jellies for effects on our guns. It was all coming together, and we couldn’t believe that in 3 days, Halloween was fast approaching.

“My, don’t you all look handsome!” gushed my Mom as we tried on the costumes for the first time together with our goggles and ectoplasm guns.

“Man, we’d definitely win the best costume for this!” said Stanley. As he turned around, admiring himself from top to bottom.

We nod our heads in agreement and can’t wait for that special day. We never realized that dress rehearsal would be the first and last time we’d be together as a team.

It was Halloween, and it seemed like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Call it Murphy’s law, but everything seemed to have gone wrong that morning. I couldn’t find my favorite socks, breakfast toast was burned to a crisp, and my brother and I were late for school.

Stanley was in a bad mood as there was a tear in his costume. We admonished him for being careless, having danced on it the night before.

And for no reason at all, it was raining so hard.

It seemed Trick or Treat may be canceled!

I remembered the rain starting pouring like cats and dogs outside, and I wondered if the next event wouldn’t happen. Would things have changed? Could we have prevented it?

Then as suddenly as the rain poured, the sun rose. You can definitely hear a relieved sigh from every boy and girl in class who was anticipating the night’s main event.

Trick and Treat was back on schedule!

As the last school bell rang that fateful day, the boys and I rushed home to don our costumes and prepare the long trodden, tried-and-tested candy treasure route. But it was different that day. As the children ready for the long-awaited night masquerade, the roads were so slippery. It was challenging to walk on the pavement, let alone ride a bike. But you know, Danny! He wants to have a good opening this Halloween and thinks our bikes would be a magnificent addition. So we biked along carefully on the road looking at road signals and every passerby.

Now, on this fateful day, the sickly kid on the block chose today to be his Halloween. Gregory never meant any harm. He was just as happy as anyone that he could come out and play this season. He has asthma, so he had bouts of sneezing and wheezing. And today was no different except he does that in his Ghosts costume which he could hardly see a thing.

There was this car that was fast approaching. I never knew why the driver would drive that fast in this neighborhood. Isn’t it obvious that there are kids trick or treating? But it wouldn’t slow down, and poor Gregory was on its way.

Just as we were about to witness something tragic happening to poor Gregory that fate intervened. Danny wasted no second and turned on his wheels. He jumped E.T. style and pushed Gregory out of the way.

The moment was a blur as a bike bell was in midair.

And then there was an eerie silence. And then there was a heartbroken scream.

The Town Hero was nothing that you’ve expected. He loved playing Dungeons and Dragons, play stick sword fights with his crew, and had some mean moves with his bicycle. He was a kid just 10 years of age. He was a real-life hero, even if it was short-lived.

At his funeral, he was dressed in the same Ghostbuster suit that he wore, trick or treating. So were the rest of us, his crew. He had a serene look on his face looking as if he had accomplished something meaningful in his young life, which he did. His parents were inconsolable. Because being a Hero had its price.

When it was time to bury him, we walked alongside his coffin. Ectoplasm guns at hand. The priests said his final words, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust….” And before they lowered the coffin to its last resting place, we did a 21 slime salute from our guns. The mayor gave his parents a medal of honor for his bravery on that fateful day. As I’ve said, we’re a small town, and heroism like this was unheard of.

Danny will never be forgotten…

****

“But Dad, please! Trick or Treat will be this Saturday,” said Mila, my daughter, as she begged me to allow her to go Trick or Treating this time around.

“No, you’re not old enough to go Trick or Treating, and if you want to go, we should come too,” I answered, turning a page of my newspaper.

“Dad, I’m 12 years old. I can handle it. I’ll be careful, and I’ll be back at 9 pm sharp, and besides, it’s only here on our block!” pleaded Mila. “Mom’s okay with it,” she added, hoping it would change my mind.

The events that happened to Danny were still very fresh in my mind. As a middle-aged man with an only child, the need to be protective tripled. I was too traumatized by what I had witnessed as a child that I feared history might repeat itself.

As Mila looked at me, she knew I was bent on not letting her go. Well, not this Halloween anyway. It’s not because I did not trust her. I couldn’t trust people. They were the reason why Danny was dead in the first place.

“Dad, you were never fun!” and with that, she walked on her heels and slammed her bedroom door.

Fun? I invented fun when we were kids. It’s just that everything became different when Danny left. How could I show my daughter that all I wanted for her was to be safe?

I went to work that day, not myself. I wanted to make amends to my daughter and change what she thought of me. As I opened my email, the first on the list was from a company called Covatar. It says they make realistic portraits of just about everybody. So I opened their site and found it impressive. Then an idea ceased me! Maybe this is the reason why Danny keeps on appearing in my dreams every night. He wanted me to show Mila that there was a time long ago that things were different.

Unfortunately, we never had any pictures of that fateful Halloween night. So I called my old Beebop boys for their old photos and explained what I planned to do.

“Man, that’s impossible,” said Stanley. “I mean, what picture company would be able to recreate a portrait of us that night?”

“Just wait and see, Stan,” I said. I contacted someone who’s ever excited to show us what we’d look like if we had our pictures taken that night.


I called someone from Covatar, and a nice guy named Alex responded.

I shared with him what happened to Danny on that Halloween night and told him the purpose of recreating our Halloween portrait was for my daughter to know that Dad was alright.

“Don’t worry, Pete, “ said Alex confidently. “My team and I are on it. Just give me the pictures, and I’ll explain to my artists what they need to do.”

Alex was so reassuring, and the fact that he had a handle on this made me confident that the portrait project was possible and was a go.

I waited for 5 days until Alex himself messaged me and said that everything was ready.

I nervously opened my laptop and the mail, and to my surprise, the Bebop Boys were staring back at me.

It was as if nothing had changed. All 3 of us Ectoplasm guns at our back and beaming happily at the invisible camera. Danny with his glasses on could pass for Egon. It was as if nothing terrible happened that day and everything went according to plan--- that we would win the best costume and I could confess my feelings for Kristen, my childhood crush that night.

I burst into happy tears. I thanked Alex profusely for this unexpected blast from the past. I had 3 of them framed. One of which I sent to Danny’s mom, who was still very much alive.

“I can’t believe you did this! This is fantastic!” said Stanley, who himself was about to burst into tears. “I loved this year where all of us are together, and I hope Danny’s happy that the Bebop Boys are back again!”

I knocked on my daughter’s door and went inside her room. She was still very much apprehensive as we hadn’t made up from our fight the last time.

I showed her the Bebop boys portrait. And all I saw was her stunned face looking at me and the Ghostbuster costumes we don on that memorable Halloween day. Then I told her the story of how her Dad was fun before until what happened to Danny.

My daughter listened in apt silence, held my hands, and told me. “Dad, I know what your fears are. But you have to let go of the past. This is me now, and you should trust me with the decision. I’m not going on a bicycle, and I’ll be going on a single lane. Danica’s Mom agreed to come with us. So it’s’ all going to be safe!”

“You have to learn to trust me more!” was what she said as she held my hands.

We reconciled right there and then. And I couldn’t thank Covatar for the precious gift of the past that helped me make my peace.

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