Thursday, April 13, 2006

Red Paint

It was a cool, fall, Saturday morning in Michigan. A few friends from work and I were crawling through the woods hunting strangers dressed in camouflage jackets, hats, pants and even face paint. In the large course I spent the first fifteen minutes wandering by myself. I was about to give up finding anything that moved so I started shooting trees and remarking on the pretty yellow splatter on the white birch. While I was examining the yellow I was suddenly felt a jolt in my shoulder and wetness splatter my ear and jaw. I looked and I was hit … red paint covered my left side and stuck like goop in my hair. A big smile crossed a camouflaged face that I never saw before that moment. I slowly walked to the corral for dead people to wait out the rest of the game. I joined my friends, all of us nice, clean cut, intelligent businessmen now splattered with red paint and sad faces. “I never even got a shot off,” one said. I answered: “I killed a birch tree.”

In the next game we hung together and decided that our friendship would protect us from the red splatter. We crawled through the underbrush, grubbing up our elbows and knees with dirt. We scanned the trees and woods for the enemy. We saw some movement and four of us unloaded on the bush where we saw the movement. A little bunny rabbit hopped away with a confused look on its face and little yellow paint spots all over it. We looked at each other and laughed. Then … “BAP … BAP … BAPBAP” all four of us felt the now familiar hit of a paintball on our backs. We turned to see three sets of grinning teeth surrounded by brown and green greasepaint. Another long walk to the dead man corral to sit out the rest of the game.

It seemed like everything we tried only got us killed. Nothing we could do could save us from the inevitable red spatter now completely covering us from head to toe. We tried solo and we tried together. We tried rushing in shooting all the while and we tried stealth. We tried random shooting and we tried shooting at planned targets. We tried everything with only one outcome … death.

The last game of the day was on the “short track.” A small basketball court sized course with hay bales, holes and a flag on a pole in the middle. My friends and I had a lot of ammunition left and we went for it. One by one we fell, as we got closer to the flag. We jumped bales, dodged bullets and got close but with only two of us left the end was coming. Death again to all … but my friend did something unexpected … he jumped in front of me and took all the red paint balls in the chest, head and legs. It gave me enough time to reach and grab the prize. We had WON! His sacrifice enabled me to get the prize! I looked at him with the flag in my hand as he laid on the ground covered with mud, grime and especially redness with his eyes closed and a smile on his red drenched face. He arose and wrapped his arm around me and we walked away in joyful victory.

Have a joyful Easter.

No comments: