The Playground Ranger

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The school blacktop was a wonderful sight to behold. Tall, green handball boards; long, captivating basketball courts; a vivid, everlasting view of the soccer field; and one small, prone, child, suffering from lack of lunch money and an atomic wedgie.

Jerry Hoover was the typical nerd: straight A’s, big glasses, messy hair, braces, and 3 feet 2 inches tall. Being a small, geeky 1st grader, he was never taken seriously, and could never do as he pleased without getting picked on. All Jerry ever wanted was to be left alone, but he was never able to solve this problem. Every day it got worse and worse, and Jerry’s deep desire to rise against the bullies grew constantly. But because of Jerry’s fear, he was never able to stand up for himself and do what was right. After today, though, the severity of his pain trumped his fear. He knew he was ready: This would be the last atomic wedgie.

By overhearing school gossip, Jerry had learned of a secret, underground dojo located in the outer corners of the baseball fields, an area where no 1st grader had ever treaded. This exclusive dojo was dedicated to training children in the ways of the 5th grader: the most elite methods and practices existent in any elementary school. The 5th graders were the coolest, toughest kids in school, and to be like one of them would be the greatest honor a child could ever dream of. But Jerry was still scared, and he knew the 5th graders would be much more frightening and far more humongous than the everyday bullies that he faced during lunch. He knew he had to go, though, and no matter what he did he would not let his fear overtake him.

The very next day, after a long, grueling hike across the school, Jerry finally arrived at the 5th grade dojo. The dojo, a circle of carefully ordered pebbles and intricately designed twigs, was unlike anything Jerry had ever seen before. Jerry was positive that no 1st grader could have come up with the ingenious design of this innovative architectural achievement.
“Who goes there, puny 1st grader?!” boomed the loud voice of the dojo guru. “It is I, Jerry Hoover,” Jerry said. “I have hiked across the punishing desert of the blacktop, navigated through the dense jungles of posses in the 800 hall, and survived the verbal onslaught of the loudmouths on the play structure. I have come to seek guidance and to attempt to achieve the power of being left alone.”
The 5th grade guru came out from behind a tree trunk, his deep eyes focused straight on Jerry, as if testing his potential. The guru was dressed in an oversized sweatshirt, jean shorts, and a necklace around his neck containing the rarest Pokémon card, Charizard. Jerry had never seen anyone anywhere near his level of rank and expertise.
“Heed my words, 1st grader, as you will need them in your quest for power,” the guru expressed. “If you truly want to discover the meaning of being left alone, you must only focus on the absence of what is bothering you until it has disappeared entirely. If you continue focusing on this goal, you will always achieve it. Never lose focus, and continue even in the worst of times.”

As Jerry heard these inspiring words of the 5th grader, he developed a newfound sense of self-assurance and was enlightened by this ground-breaking principle. “Thank you, kind guru,” Jerry said. “I am truly inspired by your words and will remember this meeting in my future struggles for vengeance.” As Jerry left, the guru sensed over-confidence in Jerry’s voice. Although Jerry had a completely new perspective on himself and life, the guru sensed that he still had some fear left and was not completely reborn.
*

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*

The next day during lunch, Jerry witnessed a shady character with a box of lunches devising a plan that would wreak havoc on the taste buds of Mrs. Martin’s 1st grade class. “Hahahaha… just watch what happens when this kid finds his milk unappetizingly warm…” The thug muttered to himself.
As Jerry heard this cataclysmic plan, he knew he had to do something. The previous day, Jerry had decided that he would do anything it takes to overcome his fear. And as he saw this unforgivable act, he knew he had to stand up for what was right.
“Leave that kid alone!” Jerry said, jumping in from behind the dumpster. The 2nd grader laughed. “Who do you think you are, shrimp?” Jerry knew he needed a codename, and hadn’t bothered to think of one before.
“I’m the… umm… Playground Ranger!” he announced, beaming in joy. “Very creative…” the stranger said sarcastically. “I’m Luke. Luke Warm, the toughest kid in the 2nd grade. If you think you’re so tough, I challenge you to playground roshambo, best 2 out of 3!”
Jerry gasped in astonishment. Jerry had never been challenged to playground roshambo, and he did not know if he would be able to survive even one round of this brutal variation, or the no rules version. Jerry tried as hard as he could to not let his fear suppress him, and mustered every last bit of courage he had. Then he remembered all the heartbroken children that would come out of his decline, plagued with soggy lunches and disgusting milk. He could not refuse. “I accept,” he remarked heroically.
In the blink of an eye, Luke lunged at him with scissor-shaped hands with the speed of a 5th grader on pizza day. Jerry, barely reacting to the impending blow, quickly countered with a fist of rock, gaining the lead. Luke was down by one point, and was going to need to start playing dirty. “Look! Ash Ketchum!” Luke shouted.
Jerry, thinking his favorite Saturday morning cartoon character was behind him, turned around completely, searching for the Pokémon Trainer. Immediately Luke struck with a palm of paper, knocking Jerry back the length of 2 kindergarteners. Jerry, devastated by the blow, was on the edge of the play structure, helpless and cornered.
Luke slowly took out his hand, shaped it as paper, and unsheathed his mighty fingers, making a “Shiiing” sound with his tongue. “Any last words?” Luke said, which a sinister smile.
Jerry, panicking in fear, thought he was hopeless. He thought he would never be left alone, and be a helpless nerd for the rest of his life. Then, like a 4th grader being bribed candy for an answer, he quickly remembered what was said to him. He knew that he had to focus on his dreams of being left alone, no matter what comes between him and the accomplishment. With enough willpower of being left alone, he thought, he may be able to change the objects that are in his way. Jerry thought about what was in his way, and put all of his focus on his obstacles.
“Leave that paper alone!” Jerry shouted. Luke Warm laughed. “Haha, like that’ll-”
Suddenly, Luke’s hand began to shake. The shaking got faster and faster, and then his fingers began to move apart. Luke, unable to control the change in his hand formation, was stunned in shock. The shaking got more and more violent, and immediately the fingers stuck in one position, resembling a pair of scissors. “Rock beats scissors. I win.” Jerry announced.

And from there the Playground Ranger was born. Because of his immense willpower for being left alone, he gained the power to make anything disappear by muttering only a few words. The Playground Ranger was never bullied again, and had truly achieved vengeance on his enemies. He returned to his school as a savior and inspiration, as he had defeated the lunch-contaminating Luke Warm, purging the school of his corruption. The Playground Ranger is still cleansing the world of bullies today, saving playgrounds one monkey bar at a time.





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