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A Game I Played with the Little Kids

Our game started out with the little kids playing a game where two “sides” (teams) were Animal or Human. The Human side had to build houses for its people, barns or zoos for the animals they captured, and they had to feed, milk, etc. animals they captured. (With most of our games like this we pretend boy cows can give milk too because nobody wants to be a girl.) The Human side goal was to capture and tame all the animals, while the Animal side goal was to untame all the animals and kill the humans. The Animal side tried to escape or kill Human capturers, destroy the Human side buildings, and generally make themselves nuisances. Both sides could have a leader ( a Animal or Human with more strength ) if all its members voted for the same person. The leader would also receive a leader stick (a long weed).

I invented this game but I was clearing the table while they started it. I decided to join the game, so I put up signs saying that an artist was going to be for hire. After I finished my job I put up a new sign saying that an artist was for hire, but for the first time only the Animal side leader with his leader stick could find him . Then, I ran upstairs and grabbed my cape that Titi had made for me on my birth-day, its sort of like a rich travelers cloak: red satin on the inside, black on the outside with a mysterious hood. The little kids tried to find me, but I evaded them.

Then, finally, Evan, being the Animal side leader and carrying the leader stick crawled up the path mooing! He’d chosen to be a cow, of all things! But he was still the Animal side leader so I jumped in front of him. “What do you want?” I said in my shady character voice. He just stuttered and mooed, so I said ” I will bring you a gift” and ran back to my hideout (where I had art supplies and a wooden sword), to make the “gift.” I couldn’t think of anything so I decided I would lead him to my hideout instead. Not a very good gift, since my hideout was easy to find, but I made it more fun by slipping him a paper that said: follow the signs. Then I put down a path of signs with arrows on them to point the way.

After he was there, he and the other little kids wanted to know why it was a gift, so I told them the only time you could talk to the Artist was if he was in his hideout. I told them all the things you could do with the Artist: hire him to kill enemies, pay him to write and draw, or to steal things and demoralize people. For example, he could sneak into people’s (or animals’, of course) homes and tack up signs with skulls and warnings drawn on them, make things placed in queer places, and (this last one’s my favorite) drop signs with arrows on them leading through prickers only to end up with a sign that says Ha, Ha.

Unfortunately, they asked me to do none of this. They just sat around looking gloomy till I finally showered them with ideas of what to do. Then I decided to make some rules: 1. No barging around in the Artist’s house. 2. No wearing capes or treasure in the Artist’s house or he will snatch and keep them, but it’s all right to carry them. Justin took rule 1. too seriously. He would inchy squinchy all the way to and through my house. (My house because I was always the Artist) .

Evan had me draw him two signs a little bit later. One said: The Butcher, and the other said: Warning: all animals should stay undercover. (In our games Butchers loved to kill any animal, especially baby chicks!) Then he put them and some other signs that were colored red all along part of the path. Evan, being the Butcher, patrolled all along his path until he was killed by Owen and Justin. Owen was being the Animal side leader and Justin was being a bounty hunter hired by Owen. (In our games bounty hunters were people who could be hired to kill or steal.)

After Evan had left to be a Butcher, I had put up Closed signs at my home and pretended the Artist was on vacation. The new character I chose to be was the bird that had carried the Artist to his vacation and had been rewarded with a sword. I came flying up just in time to see the Butcher die. As he died, he dropped an egg that hatched into the new Evan: a bird. I gave him to Owen to raise. Once he was big enough I taught him to fly, and he flew off to make a nest out of hay. (It was really big.) I got tired of being a bird, so I pretended to be the pack-up man and packed up the Artist’s place.

After that I decided to be a mysterious Ninja who you only saw if he was being hired to kill you. I was going to accomplish this by having Caleb be my messenger. But as soon as I picked my hideout–a great place on a woodpile where I could see everybody but they couldn’t see me–it was time for the little kids to go to bed! Ah, well. That was a really fun game.