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Little Red Devil

My Dad held up this red cloth, all worn and frayed.

“Every man needs a good handkerchief,” his cracked lips said.

I looked at it with pride, recalling him heading off to work with it hanging from his pocket or draped about his neck. 

And I couldn’t help wondering if he’d ever known how that bandana’d hid my face as I rustled them cattle, held up those trains or shot my way from some banks.

Of course that was years ago, and I’d been just a kid, but those backyard antics prove hard to forget.

The neighbors sure didn’t, telling my mom all about how I’d trampled my boots right through their precious gardens, or jumped my bike right over their entry wall.

“That little red devil!” they’d told her with scorn, though they probably would have known it was me even without my Dad’s red mask.

I had it on when I plunged my purple Stingray down that awesome gravel alley behind our park, squealing that bike right in front of that screeching Ford Fairlane.

“Littl’ red devil!” the driver’d yelled as I thundered by.

And then there was that time when my brother Batman let me get captured by Penguin’s fiendish hoods, so in a fit of rage I threw down Robin’s red wrap and transformed into the incredible Sub-Mariner and tossed them aside like breadsticks, which of course irritated my brother to no end and so he got his Aquaman swimsuit on and off we ran dow to the city pool to prove once and for all how no DC has-been could ever take down a true Marvel star. 

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Or that’s how I saw it anyway. And I stick to that this very day.

Of course we splashed water all over that gorgeous life guard who really wasn’t too happy about getting her precious hair damp.

“You little devil!” she called me, since I’d taken off Dad’s red bandana to not get it wet.

After all, I wasn’t a complete idiot back then.

I don’t know how much of that nonsense Dad ever figured out.

Mom was so sweet, I doubt she ever said a word.

But I couldn’t help wondering from that amused gleam in his eye before he said, “Yes, every man needs a good handkerchief, and so do you, you little devil.”

Guess my old man was just as smart as I’d always thought he was.

I hugged him then, like I had so many times before, and yet, when he hugged me back, it seemed like the very first time.

Oh, I love my parents! Just special people!

- Words and music by Kirby Lee Davis, copyright March 2012

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