Tim had always liked the Robin Hood stories that Grandma Penny read to him. Robbing the rich, giving to the poor. Robin and his merry men, that’s what he liked to read about, not so much the romance between Robin and Maid Marian, but the camaraderie, the friendships that Robin had created. He wished he had friends like that.
When Grandma Penny mentioned the medieval fair coming to town, he smiled. “Does that mean we get to go and do fun things too?”
“Well, Timothy, we’ll see what I can do. Since your Mom and Sarah are out of town for an appointment, how about we make a day of it? Shall I pack us up a picnic?”
Tim’s whole day went from partly cloudy, to mostly sunny and he didn’t have to think twice about his reply, “Yes please. May I help you Grandma?”
“Would you like to make our sandwiches? I need to find us a thermos.”
His eyes, which always shined with such a bright green light, brightened even more when she mentioned letting him help and she sighed wondering when or if her son would ever acknowledge this young man of his. She ruffled Tim’s hair and sent him off to the kitchen.
Tony wandered into the living room, shuffling his feet along the carpeting. He was about to sit down and watch a movie when the newest maid came into the room.
“Master Tony? I was wondering if you had anything going on this afternoon?”
Tony smiled at her. He actually liked this maid; she tried so hard to include him in some of her outside activities. She didn’t baby him like so many of the other maids, butlers, tutors whatever did.
“I’m not doing anything. What’s up?”
Caroline smiled at him, “I need to get some shopping done and wondered if you’d like to accompany me? I promise, nothing too girly, just some basic grocery shopping for the week.”
Tony stopped for a few seconds then nodded slowly. He wasn’t really interested in going, but if it meant getting out of the house, even for a few moments he would do it. Caroline grabbed her purse and jacket while Tony went into his room. He pulled a sweater over his shirt, then reached into his closet for a lightweight jacket. He didn’t know exactly what Caroline had in mind, but as far as Tony was concerned, he would be avoiding a boring afternoon of tutoring and studies. He grinned at his image in the mirror and headed out to the car.
Tim tried to no avail to contain his excitement. He loved going out with his grandmother, she always made him feel like he was someone important. As they approached the fairgrounds he noticed that there was an archery contest going on and asked if they could attend. She nodded, knowing that he loved pretending he was one of Robin’s merry men. Tim waited for the car to stop, and turned to his grandmother. She sighed and smiled at him.
“Let’s get our bearings, first Timothy. We don’t want to lose sight of where the car is, and then we can come back here for our picnic later.”
Tim grinned up at her, waiting patiently by her car door. He opened it just like the little gentleman that he was, and Penny patted him on the head. They went to the archery grounds and found several people already there, ready to watch the professional archers start. Several archers were going around talking to the adults and one approached Penny.
“Pardon me ma’am, but later on we’re allowed to teach the kids how to use a bow and arrow. Would your little boy like to try?”
Penny didn’t have to think twice; she knew that if she didn’t at least give him a chance, he’d never forgive her. Well, he probably would, but she’d feel bad if she didn’t. She nodded and he asked her to sign some papers, allowing Tim to join him later on the field.
As Caroline drove down the street, she glanced at her young charge. He always seemed so distant and lonely. She had several brothers that were Tony’s age and she wished that she could take him home to meet them, but knew that she’d never be allowed to. There was however, something that she could do and she drove silently down the street, waiting for the time when Tony would realize that they weren’t really heading to a grocery store.
Her brothers had told her of the upcoming fair and the archery competition that was going to be there too. It was more of a medieval theme, something she wasn’t too sure that Tony would be interested in, but it would get him out of the house and he would be allowed to try and shoot a bow and arrow at the end of the show.
“Where are we going? I can tell that we’re not going to Wal-Mart, it’s in the opposite direction.”
Caroline smiled, “I thought you might like to go watch a medieval fair. There’s an archery competition and you can sign up to try and shoot a bow and arrow when the main event is over.”
“Really?” Tony mused that bit over. He was thinking he’d seen some movies recently and smiled as he recalled one with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
“So, I get to be Robin Hood?”
Caroline looked at the smile on Tony’s face. “More like Will Scarlett.”
She chuckled as Tony crossed his arms and pouted at her before he smiled again. As they got out of the car, Caroline made note of the military vehicles that were around them. She hid a smile at the station wagon parked in the midst of all the jeeps. She wanted to use something as a basis for finding their vehicle again and that one lone car, in the midst of all those military ones would be her landmark so to speak. She just hoped it would still be there when she and Tony came back out again.
Tim watched in awe as several men and women took to the field. Penny had given him permission to move closer to the fence so that he could see better. He knew that he might never be given an opportunity like this when his father got home, so he used the chance to imagine himself maybe not as Robin, but perhaps one of the others, one of the nameless ones who supported the bandit. He extended his arm, pretending to shoot his pretend enemy and was surprised when one of the archers came over and looked up at his grandmother who nodded at the man.
“Would you like to try, son?” Twinkling blue eyes smiled at him and he nodded in awe.
As he followed the archer onto the field, he noticed that several other children were also being escorted and he grinned at the one who was walking beside him.
“Hi, I’m Tim. What’s your name?”
“I’m Tony, but today, I’m gonna be Robin Hood.”
Tim nodded. In his mind’s eye, he could definitely see the taller boy as Robin, and looked at himself wondering just which part of the band he could be.
“You can be Little John,” Tony offered. “He was Robin’s right hand man, wasn’t he? Aside from Will Scarlett, and Friar Tuck.”
Tim thought for a moment and nodded, “Little John tended to use a staff more than a bow and arrow, but he still stood beside Robin til the end. Once they became friends that is.”
The two boys smiled at each other then followed their escorts into the arena. Penny and Caroline stood side by side as their charges listened to what they were being told. Both boys took the instruction seriously compared to several other boys who were nearby. Two archers walked over to where the miscreants were playing and waving the equipment around. As they approached, an arrow flew past them and screams were heard as well.
Tony stared as the little boy beside him pushed him down, and he wondered what he’d done wrong when the arrow whizzed by them, barely missing them both. A dull thud was heard and the arrow slammed into the ground beside them. The men that had been instructing the boys immediately checked them over for injuries as Caroline and Penny rushed out to where the boys were.
“I’m fine Grandma, how about you Tony?”
Tony nodded and accepted Tim’s hand up. “You can be my partner anytime Tim.” He said solemnly and Tim beamed at him.
“Tony! Are you okay?” Caroline was struggling not to panic and she was close to tears as well.
“I’m fine, thanks to Tim. Please don’t tell my dad though. He won’t let us do anything fun anymore if he hears about this.”
Caroline nodded her head and was about to pull Tony out of the arena when Penny put a hand on her arm.
“Let them follow through on this.”
“Are you sure?”
Two boys stared at her hope in their eyes. She slowly turned to face the instructors who were standing there with two strung bows and questions in their eyes. Then she stared down at the young man who was entrusted to her care. Her brothers faces came to mind and she knew that she had to give Tony a chance to try at least once.
She followed Penny out of the arena and the older woman escorted her back to where they had been standing prior to the incident. The assistant lead archer stepped over to where the women were standing and put out his hand.
“I’m sorry ladies, we don’t encourage that kind of behavior. If you would allow us, we’d like to give both of your boys a chance to have private instruction. We can accommodate any schedule you give us.”
Caroline took the business card that was handed to her, and stuck it in her wallet. She wasn’t sure if she’d even have a job after today, but she couldn’t deny Tony this one chance to pretend he was Robin Hood.
As for Penny, she accepted the business card as well and made note to put it into young Timothy’s wallet. “I don’t know when we’ll be in this area again, but if we do make it here, I’ll bring him in. In the meantime, how are the boys doing?”
The man turned around and smiled as both boys took up stances in front of their respective targets. He was about to reply when a young man in a Marine uniform stepped up and saluted him. He returned the salute and the young man whispered in his ear.
Two arrows simultaneously flew towards their intended targets. Surprisingly enough, both arrows hit and two boys cheered. Neither had hit the bullseye, but they’d both hit the target and that was enough for them.
“Good job, boys.” The man with blue eyes said and both boys beamed at him as they slapped hands and ran over to where the women were standing.
“Gunny, we have got to get going.” The Marine said and the man nodded.
“Ladies, I’d say you have a couple of winners.”
With that, he jogged off with a few others, and the boys looked at each other and grinned. One of the other archers came over to them and handed them each a small trophy. Then the lead archer stepped forward and asked Tim to follow him. The young boy did so and the archer smiled as he led Tim towards the center of the arena.
“We admire your spirit and your courage. We’d like you to accept this with our apologies. We never intentionally put anyone at risk, but you stepped forward like the real Robin Hood would have to save your friend. Ma’am, will you allow him to have this?”
Penny sighed as she stared at the young man who was extending a quiver. Tim looked up at her, not really sure what his grandmother would say.
“Timothy, I will allow you to have this on the condition that you will have more lessons in archery at some point in time. These are not a toy and we both know what your father would say.”
Tim nodded glumly, his father would see the quiver as yet another waste of resources. He stared at his grandmother as in idea formed in his mind.
“Grandma, could we keep it at your place?”
Penny smiled down at him and slowly nodded her approval. “Very well, but only on the condition that we arrange for lessons when you come and visit.”
They turn to leave when the assistant lead archer ran back into the arena.
“There is one more condition: he has to take this as well.” He held a long case in his hands and handed it to Penny who opened it revealing a handmade longbow.
He ran back out and rejoined his buddies. As the Marines left the area, they heard one of them exclaim, “Wasn’t that a present from your dad, Gibbs?”
“He earned it.” Gibbs replied and they drove out of sight.