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(TFT) Eventually we start bruising each other.

Eventually we start bruising each other.

   Eventually combat gets to where we start bruising each other.  We start
making shields and armor.  Sawing a shield out of wood is an exercise unto
itself.  A skill saw can make a fair square shield, or one with an angle on
the bottom.  An arm strap and handle of canvas can be attached with roofing
tacks if the plywood is thicker than 2cm.  Otherwise screws with bolts, or
even nails bent back, protrude and damage the weapons that hit them.

   In a fight being able to handle a shield quickly is important.  The
opponent can hook your shield with theirs and push it out of the way stabbing
over and into your exposed chest.  Being stabbed in the chest hurts too, as
none of the swords flexibility comes into play.  So we make cardboard chest
pieces and glue foam padding to the back of them.  Crisscrossed straps over
the back and one has some protection against a hard stab.  Glossy black or
silver spray paint, looks more like metal than flat paint does.

   David Simmons comes over to join in.  A round of craft & construction,
followed by some fighting.  First is a trip to the bamboo forest to select and
cut his own pieces.  Bicycling back we use one hand to hold the cane.  It is
much longer than the bike of course and a hazard to other riders when we enter
the turn.   David looks kind of wobbly on his bike steering with one hand and
balancing his two lengths of cane with the other.

   After making his sword we ask him what kind of shield he has in mind.

   He tells us  ``Come on.  It`s down the road.``

  We look at each other and go for a walk with him.

   This new company is all over the neighborhood called Cablevision.  They
have been leaving these massive wooden spools everywhere.  Now David Simmons
is a huge guy but I think he has overestimated his size.  The spool is a meter
and a half in diameter at the wheels, one meter in the middle, and must weigh
over 50kg.  It takes all of us working as a team to roll this thing all the
way back to Darryl`s house.  I t keeps trying to veer off to the left or the
right.  Keeping it moving is tiring on the arms, but if the road has a nice
grade we can`t let it get away from us or it might flatten someone`s mail box,
or clip a car.  So down hill is even worse.

   We get it back and help David Simmons disassemble it.  And by that I mean
destroy every part that is not the wheels.  After knocking out the wooden
slats in the middle there are four long rusted screws keeping the wheels
together.  Without the slats to keep the wheels apart, we push them together
and the bolts on the outside of one wheel come away where we can get at them.
It is no use.  They are all locked or rusted into place, maybe both.  We get a
hacksaw, put in a fresh blade and cut the ends of the screws off.  David
Simmons cuts one of them, and once he gets a groove started he really starts
sawing fast.  Trying to burn as much as cut through the metal.  He has to
stop, pant, and catch his breath.  Then he starts another round of furious
cutting.   Only now he`s already tired and bending the hacksaw.  Finally it
jams.  He`s crimped the blade.  So we change the blade and Darryl finishes it
while he catches his breath.  We put the rusty sharp ended screws in the
trash.  Laying there are two massive wheels, they have got to weigh over 20kg

   David Simmons stands one up.  Places his arms against it to find a nice
spot for the strap.  Mark hands him the pencil and he marks it.  With canvas
straps and roofing tacks he affixes two straps.  He stands it up , slides his
arm under the first strap and uses the second as a handle.  He lifts and the
roofing tacks pop out.  We get him some roofing nails and he uses those.  This
holds.  He reaches to his sword laying on the ground.  Tied to the shield like
he is the sword is just out of reach.  Mark has to pick it up and hand it to
him.  I choose a spear about two meters and tipped with a tennis ball.

   We face off.  At first he is holding the wheel in the air.  It covers his
body from overhead to mid thigh.  David Simmons is taller than I am.  I circle
this giant watching what the weight is doing to his lumbering footwork.  He
rotates the shield down, now it covers from shoulder to knees.  After I
complete a full circle around him he makes a short run at me, and I just back

   He`s breathing heavy and sets the shield against the ground.  I sprint
around his shield arm to get at his side.  He twists the shield on the ground
to keep it facing me and seems to be in some pain.

   ``Ah, ah ah.``  He screws up his face.  ``Wait.``

   I walk to the side and toss down the spear with the other weapons.

   He leans his sword against himself, holds the top of the shied with his
right hand, and frees his left arm from the first strap.  Now he just holds
the shield by the handle strap.  He takes his sword, stands up and says

   Darryl moves to face with sword & plywood shield.  It`s a classic shield
shape.  Square on top, pointed at the bottom.  He has painted a gryphon on it.
Darryl circles.  David Simmons leaves the shield on the ground but turns it to
face him.  Darryl tries to come over the top, David just ducks behind his
wall.  Darryl moves to the sword arm, makes a flurry of attacks to cripple
that arm, but the wall is too much cover.  Darryl tries to come over the top.
Simmons ducks behind the wall.  In that moment where he can`t see; Darryl is
around the shield arm fixin to stab him in the left side.  David Simmons sees
at the last moment , lifts the shield, spins to face, but also staggers
backwards two steps.  He almost falls down.

   ``It`s too big.``  Darryl moves to the side and drops his arms.  ``I just
can`t get around it.``

   ``Yeah, but he can`t get you either.``  Mark steps forward with a flail.
Two segments of bamboo as a handle, 3 lengths of string fastened through a
single tennis ball.

   They face off.  Mark becomes one with the lawn, doing `Samurai who breaths
slowly,` and just waits.

   David Simmons adjusts his sword grip.  He adjusts his shield grip.  He
swishes his sword around a little.  He lifts his shield off the ground and . .

   Mark runs up to the shield, swings at the top, the string wraps over and
the tennis ball hits Simmons in the head.

   ``Wait.  I wasn`t ready.``  Simmons says.

   Darryl Laughs.

   Mark goes back where he was and just stands there.  Simmons lifts the
shield, and mark takes a step forward.  Simmons takes a stop forward, so does
Mark.  They close.  Mark swings over the top, Simmons raises his sword to
parry.  Then tennis ball wraps around the sword and Mark yanks.  The sword
comes out of Simmons hand.  Mark catches it with his free left hand, uncoils
the flail, steps forward and gently taps Simmons in the head with his own

   ``Ok.`` Says Simmons.  He lets go of the wall.  It takes a ponderously long
while to fall over.  Makes a `whomp` sound and ripples all the grass around it
with a blast of displaced air.

David Michael Grouchy II

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