As young boys we didn’t care about the how or the why. He was different, and that was all it took for us to gang up on him. Looking back, we were rather cruel towards him, as boys are wont to be.
We invented a game. I do not know who exactly started it, but it was one of the more popular boys. The rest of us joined in without hesitation.
The game was played every day without fail. One boy, the previous day’s “keeper”, would hide Baldy’s wig somewhere on the campsite. All the other boys would search for it. It wasn’t that much different from a normal game of hide-and-seek, to begin with. What differed was the twist of the game after the wig was found.
The boy who found the wig would have full power over Baldy for the rest of the day. A simple threat to flush his wig down the toilet would have Baldy begging on his knees and willing to follow any command.
Wigs were expensive, and the poor boy could well imagine the wrath of his mother were he to inform her that he had lost or ruined his. He was therefore at the mercy of whoever happened to be holding his wig.
The “finder” of the wig would be Baldy’s “keeper” for the rest of the day, or to put it more bluntly, Baldy was as good as his slave.
The next day, he would hide the wig again, and the game would continue.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A stirring nearby roused me from my thoughts. I looked at my son, lying on the hospital bed. Sessions of chemotherapy had left him weak, and his hair, once so thick and beautiful, had almost all fallen out.
I silently vowed that I would never allow him to experience the emotional torture that we had put Baldy through. No, he will never be a pawn in such a cruel game as “finders keepers”.
Random phrase: Finders keepers (thanks to William)