It seemed to be glowing in the dark and Alexander Ethan Murray pulled the blanket over his head and trembled. He knew the toy Uncle Myles had brought from his travels in New York was trouble from the moment he unwrapped it.
“It’s a GI Joe.” Uncle Myles had declared. “They’re all the rage in New York.”
“It’s a doll.” Alexander Ethan Murray had said.
“It’s a soldier doll for boys.” His mother said. Her voice had that unspoken ‘don’t be ungrateful’ edge to it and Alexander Ethan Murray looked up at his uncle.
“Thank you Uncle Myles.” He said picking up the doll and holding it far away from his body. He put it down on the table in his bedroom. It didn’t seem fair to foist it onto his toys safely tucked up in the toy box. Who knows what they will make of the grimacing soldier with his Khaki outfit and combat rifle.
Alexander Ethan Murray ran down the stairs forgetting about the doll and played with Uncle Myles and Dad all afternoon. They teased him by holding a ball high above their heads and making him jump for it. He scampered about in circles and Mother said he was getting overexcited and to settle down. He was climbing into bed before he remembered Uncle Myles’s present. Mother came into his bedroom.
“Sleep tight darling.” She said kissing him on the cheek and drawing the blanket up to his chin. He felt silly asking her to take GI Joe out of the room. He couldn’t always put his feelings into words so Mother switched off the light and closed the door before he said anything. The moonlight thrust its way into the room flooding the table and illuminating GI Joe. Alexander Ethan Murray stared in horror as the soldier’s eyes glowed like embers. He was sure the rustling he heard was the toy struggling to climb out of the box that held him prisoner. Alexander Ethan Murray flung the blanket over his head with a squeak.
“Alexander Ethan Murray, get up boy! Hiding under the blankets won’t help us.” An unfamiliar voice said with a drawl. “We have an important mission to do.” Alexander Ethan Murray peeped over the blanket. GI Joe leapt off the table and marched to his bed. “We have no time to waste. Come with me.” He strode over to the door, stopped and waited for Alexander Ethan Murray who then followed him down the stairs.
“Where are we going? What do we need to do?” He said.
“Questions, questions! A soldier must follow commands my boy.” GI Joe said but his voice was kindly now. “The mission is to save the wooden train engine that fell from your window onto the grass below.” Alexander Ethan Murray gasped.
“When? How? My train engine?”
“Too many questions.” GI Joe sighed and the boy swallowed the others welling up in his throat. They tiptoed past Uncle Myles snoring softly on the sofa, his feet hanging over the side. The blanket had slipped onto the floor and Alexander Ethan Murray resisted the temptation to drape it back over his sleeping uncle. He scuttled after GI Joe who was tapping his foot in impatience at the closed front door. Alexander Ethan Murray stood on tiptoe and unlatched the door. It swung open and GI Joe strode out to the side of the house. The train engine was lying crumpled and forlorn on the grass. The soldier knelt down and patted the engine gently.
“Are you in one piece or do we have to find the bits of you?” He said.
“I think I’m altogether, sir.” The engine said shakily.
Alexander Ethan Murray bent to pick up his engine and cradled it in his arms as they walked back inside. He had to place it on the floor to close and latch the door. When they were back in his bedroom he examined the engine carefully. There did not seem to be any lasting damage but just in case Alexander Ethan Murray put it under the blanket. He climbed into bed next to the engine and yawned.
“Mission well done boy. You will make a fine soldier one day.”
“Thank you GI Joe,” Said Alexander Ethan Murray “But I want to be a Doctor just like my Dad.” GI Joe shrugged and went to stand next to the toy box.
“To each his own.” He said. “I will stand guard while you sleep. Good night Alexander Ethan Murray.”