Today Latigo Flint came upon a boy sitting on a curb, bawling his eyes out. When Latigo Flint inquired as to his torment the boy responded that he had no more heroes left in his life. His father, a devout family man who worked two jobs to provide a better life for his children than he'd had, died when he fell asleep and drove off an overpass. The boy's teacher, a patient and compassionate soul, spent 20 years educating children only to be recently forced into early retirement for refusing to implement standardized testing at the expense of her student's full comprehension. And Happy Phil, the volunteer basketball coach for the past 10 years at the community center had to quit last week to take care of his elderly mother.
"Oh young fella," Latigo Flint said consolingly once the boy's tale had come to its teary, snuffling conclusion. "Don't you worry one bit about all that. Those people weren't heroes."
"Gracious no! Lots and lots of people do what they did - so what? Are we going to devalue the word by slapping it on everyone? No no young fella that won't do at all. See a hero is someone who saves people from rabid animals with his bare hands. Heroes crawl up a flight of stairs with nine bullets lodged in them and with their last breath shoot the man in the ski mask before he can off any more hostages. Heroes are those who get captured on video saving children and old women from flood waters. Are you starting to understand now? Your teacher, volunteer basketball coach and father may have been good people, but they certainly weren't heroes."
The boy's brow furrowed as he attempted to process all this. At long last he lifted his tear streaked chin to gaze at Latigo Flint.
"Ha-ha-have you ever saved people from rabid animals with your bare hands?" He softly inquired.
"Young fella, you better fucking believe it. More than once."
The boy wiped his eyes, gave Latigo Flint a shy smile and extended his tiny hand. Latigo Flint wordlessly accepted it and the unlikely pair slowly made their way down the street.
(But Latigo Flint was on his way to the local bar so the kid had to sit in the alley for a while. I guess he got bored and walked home 'cause he wasn't there five hours later when Latigo Flint was done drinking.)