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Scalping Bobby the Kid

A true story from A Rocket for the Lodgers

Bobby spoke out of the side of his mouth in a permanent Western drawl, and he went armed to the teeth. Not for him, the flimsy plastic tat which was creeping into our lives via Japan and Hong Kong. His twin six guns were of die-cast steel and fired noisy percussion caps, his suede bandoliers held weighty bullets which looked exactly like the real thing, and for long-range work he carried a heavy replica Winchester repeater with a solid hardwood stock. It was this fine weapon which landed him in serious Injun trouble.

On the Brew, we had built a stockade out of discarded cartons. This fort was being defended by the cowboys against a circling horde of yelling Indians, armed with improvised spears, bows and arrows, tomahawks and deadly plastic scalping knives. Fancying myself as Crazy Horse, I hurled myself against the cardboard ramparts of the white-eyes. We had all seen movies in which the desperate defender, his ammunition exhausted, reverses his empty rifle, swings it by the barrel and brings the butt crashing down on the head of some hapless brave. In his excitement and thirst for realism, this was exactly what Bobby did to me. The bloody cut on the scalp and the subsequent bruising, were as nothing compared with my fury with this idiot who could not tell the difference between play and grievous bodily harm.

My expression must have said it all because Bobby took one look at my outraged face, abandoned the fort, and ran for his life, pursued by a savage hell-bent on revenge. We pelted down Millgate, panting heavily, with Bobby heading for the sanctuary of the Bath Hotel which was kept by his family. He stumbled on the short flight of stone steps up to the ornate Edwardian entrance, and had pushed open the heavy door with its engraved glass panels and polished brass fittings, before I managed with a last desperate effort to fling myself full length and grab him by a trailing heel.

He came down with a satisfying crash on the coloured tiles of the lobby, and I was comfortably seated on his chest and settling into the rhythm of pounding his skull into the tessellated pavement, when his father Wilf Sherrington fortunately arrived to declare the match a draw and haul his shocked offspring away to the bunkhouse.

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