It hadn't seemed all that long ago that Ralph and I were children playing in our bedrooms with our favorite toys, those from the hit TV show, Gradnal The Lancer, a TV show about a noble knight who traveled the world in search of those who threaten humanity.
While it may have been quite cheesy, the action was still great to watch and Gradnal, no matter how violent he was, still entertained us through the years. While it may seem quite silly, our most prized possessions back then were out, Gradnal action figures, the ones with the sword slicing action and many catch phrases that he always said on the show. We loved them, and from then on we made a promise that we would never give them up. We used to bring them everywhere, the park, school, and even funerals and weddings
As the years passed we slowly grew out of the old cartoon and so our figures of our once great hero had been stored in our toy chests for what seemed like ages. Now that we were two thirty year old men it had been decided that we should throw out our old toys. In Ralph's mind he knew that kids nowadays wouldn’t know who Gradnal was, so without a second thought he threw his figure in with the rest of the trash.
“Are you sure about this? This might be worth a fortune some day you know.” I said as I watched him tie up the bag.
“We aren’t children anymore Tony, and you know as well as I do that no child would want this old piece of plastic.”
“You don’t know that and besides what about the promise we made? We would never get rid of them remember.” I said as I folded my arms.
“You can keep yours if you like, but as for me, I have other things to entertain me than some old toy. It was fun when we were kids, but now it’s time to move on.” He said as he threw the bag over his shoulder.
Ralph had always been a great friend, but he lacked common sense. If he didn’t want it he could have easily sold it to a collector or sold it to a pawn shop. I didn’t pay any attention to his decision though, it was his toy and he could do with it whatever he wanted to.
That night I had decided to pull out my old Gradnal figure just to see what condition it was in. It was a little dusty and had a few smudges on it, but nothing a little buffing out wouldn’t fix. The sun had begun to set when I sat down to fix up my old figure. Just looking at it brought back memories of playing with it in my room, and seeing it now just warmed my heart a bit. Just remembering the times when me and Ralph would dress up as the mighty hero and do battle, it really brought back memories.
After I had finished dusting off the noble hero and after I had buffed out all the smudges and scratches I sat him down on the table to look at him. He looked just as he had twenty three years ago, brand new and straight out of the box. Just to test it out I flipped the switch on its back, but the green light on his chest refused to light up. Oh well, at least he looked nice right?
“Heh, so what time is it Gradnal?” I asked.
I knew the batteries must have corroded over time, but then something very strange happened.
“It’s hero time!” he yelled as he moved his arms to grab the small plastic sword holstered on his side.
There was no way the batteries could have been good after all those years of being in his toy chest, although it did seem fairly normal and that was one of his most famous catch phrases.
"So what’s the mission for today?” I asked.
To my surprise he yet again spoke.
"Trouble is afoot. Time to get moving.”
Trouble, what had he meant by trouble? I watched as his waist turned until his sword was pointing towards the window. I didn’t want to ask any more questions, but I had a strange feeling about what was happening.
"Who is in trouble?” I struggled to ask.
"Friends are in trouble, let’s move out!”
At this point I didn’t know what to say. They were all his catch phrases, but it was as if he was trying to tell me something. I looked out the window to find that Ralph, from across the street had put his garbage out.
"Must get there quickly, time is running out.” It said again.
I must have been going crazy, but just to see what was really going on I decided to take a look. Before leaving I grabbed my old friend and walked out the door towards the lit house. As I drew closer, I saw the lights dim slightly as I approached the white picket fence. Night seemed very quiet, but that had been interrupted by the sound of gunshots that echoed from my friend’s house.
"Ralph!” I exclaimed as I ran through the gate of the picket fence.
Wait, I thought to myself, what if the shooter was still in there, but Ralph, what if he had been hurt? I had to be brave, he was my friend and I wasn’t going to let him get hurt.
"I am Gradnal.” I said to myself as I opened the door to his house.
Down the hall I could see the lights of the living room were still on, but that was it. I walked as slow and as quietly as I could down the hall with Gradnal still in my hand. I could feel his plastic hand squeeze my finger as I drew closer to the living room. I tried not to breathe too heavily as I walked through the entrance to the living room. Laying there on the floor covered in blood was my best friends, still alive but in pain.
"Ralph. Come on, stay with me buddy!”
I quickly ran over to him and leaned him up. I could see that he was struggling to say something, but all he did was groan before I heard the sound of a cocked gun from behind me.
"Get up.” I heard.
I couldn’t just leave Ralph on the floor or else he would bleed to death. I tried my best not to look at the shooter, but when my eyes rose to his face I saw a pair of bright blue eyes and a head covered in shaggy black hair that almost covered his eyes.
"Alright, now get down unless you want to be just like your friend there.” He said.
What was I to do? If I did as he said, my friend would bleed to death but if I didn’t, I would be covered in holes as well. A cold sweat ran down my face, arms, and legs as my arms and legs shook.
"Well, are you going to get down?!” he yelled.
Just as I had begun to submit, I heard an all too familiar sound.
"Feel my wrath, evil scum!”
This was my chance, now that he was distracted by my toy, I decided to not submit and instead grab the barrel of the gun. I pointed it up to the ceiling just as he fired off a shot, and with all my strength I pulled it from his hands.
"Get the fuck down!” I yelled as I pointed his own weapon at him.
Just as I had said that, police sirens began to ring down the street.
"Shit.” He said as he ran towards a window.
I quickly shot his knee to send him falling to the ground. As he yelled out in pain, I rushed over to my friend who was lucky to still be breathing, but he was losing consciousness just when the police kicked open the door. As soon as they ran into the room it was as if everything was going to be alright. When they questioned me, I explained what had happened inside the house, but not what happened before. Apparently Ralph’s neighbor had heard the gunshots and had called the police. Just after they made the arrest, one of the officers called an ambulance to pick up my friend.
"You're one lucky man, this guy has been going from house to house stealing anything valuable he can get his hands on, and kills anyone in the house. He always left before we could arrive, but it looked like this time we finally got him.” The deputy officer said as he watched Ralph being wheeled off to the ambulance.
After the killer had been arrested and Ralph had been driven to the hospital, I heard something coming from the trash can right behind me. It sounded like gears. When I opened it up I found a large bag had been put inside, so I tore it open, and lo and behold, inside I found my friend's old Gradnal figure with its hands raised in the air.
"This day belongs to Gradnal!” it cheered.
Something was still bugging me though, how were they talking? I took each of them and opened up the lid on their backs, and to my amazement I found not batteries, but instead nothing. Nothing but a piece of tape that had, “Best Friends Forever,” written on the inside of both battery covers.
It’s been over a year since that day, and since then and after numerous surgeries, Ralph seems to be doing just fine, although he has decided to get a burglar alarm just in case. Both myself and Ralph have decided to hold onto our old toys. We still don’t know what happened that night, me among everyone else, but whatever it was we were very thankful. Next time you throw out an old toy that you treasured, ask yourself, is it worth it?