The Shaggy Dog Story
Meet Joe Armott, an old man who likes to tell tall tales. What happens when he weaves a story of the ace archer, Green Arrow?
“And while Green Arrow was taking care of the Red Dart,” the old man said with a proud smile, “who do you think was handling Clock King?”
“You, Grandpa?” asked a wide-eyed little boy seated on the floor at the old man’s feet.
“With one hand,” the old man said, holding up his right fist.
His six-year-old grandson gasped in awe, as did the four other children seated on the floor listening intently to the old man’s story. Friends of Jimmy Armott, they liked to come to his grandfather’s store on Saturday afternoons and listen to the old man’s stories. The display window of the store was lettered Armott Antiques & Collectibles in gold, with much smaller letters reading Joseph Armott, Proprietor in the corner. The store was filled with old things, forgotten treasures of times past. Joe Armott was something of a forgotten treasure of times past, too. He felt the world was moving too rapidly for him these days, and his only joys were his store and his grandson.
“Mr. Armott,” a little boy of African-American descent asked respectfully, “did you ever help Green Arrow fight any monsters?”
“Monsters?” Armott asked. “Why, sure! I’ll never forget the time–“
“Joe,” Armott’s wife called from the back room of the store, “can I see you for a minute, please?”
“Can’t it wait, Mary?” Armott asked. “I’m telling the kids how–“
“Now, Joe,” Mary said sternly. Armott sighed and stiffly rose from his chair. “I’ll be right back, kids, I promise.”
“OK, Grandpa,” Jimmy said with a smile. As he slowly walked into the back room, Armott heard the kids talking and beamed with pride.
“Your granddad’s the coolest!“
“He’s Green Arrow’s friend! He must be the best old man in the city!”
“Joe,” Mary said in a hushed whisper as Armott came into the room, “why do you have to fill their heads with such nonsense?“
“Aw, Mary,” Armott said dismissively. “It’s just harmless fun! It’s like Santa Claus. It’s just stories; it doesn’t hurt anybody. And it makes my grandson proud of me.”
“You’ll regret telling shaggy dog stories one day, Joseph Armott,” Mary warned.
“Yeah, yeah,” Armott said, and shuffled back to his audience. “Now, where were we?” he asked, settling himself back into his chair.
“The monsters,” the African-American boy reminded.
“Oh, yeah, the monsters!” Armott said. “Well, it happened about two years ago. Green Arrow was helping me in the store, see, unloading some new acquisitions from the van…”
“This is quite a collection you picked up, Joe,” Green Arrow said, handing me a box. “Where’d you get all this stuff?”
“Estate sale,” I told my old friend. “A collector of military memorabilia. His kids didn’t want it, so I took it off their hands.”
“He sure had a lot of pieces,” Green Arrow said. “Is that a Purple Heart medal?”
“Sure is,” I told him. “And that one there–“
But suddenly, we were interrupted by a blinding flash of light and cloud of smoke. Always alert, Green Arrow already had an arrow drawn and nocked to his bowstring when it cleared, and a mean-looking man in dark blue robes stood there, leering at us.
“Felix Faust!” Green Arrow declared. “What are you doin’ here?”
“I’ve come to kill you, of course,” said the man, whose name was Felix Faust. “Since you Justice Leaguers always beat me together, I’ve decided to kill you one at a time! You get the honor of being first, Green Arrow!”
“Lucky me,” Green Arrow said, not afraid at all. “Come on, Feel, that angle never worked for Doctor Light. What makes you think it’ll work for you?”
Faust grinned like a wicked snake. “Because Light didn’t have him on his side,” Faust said, pointing behind us.
“Him?” Green Arrow said, slowly turning his head. “Him who–? Cripes!” Green Arrow ducked just in time to avoid a swipe from a razor-sharp claw. The claw sliced his hat in half, instead of his head. Green Arrow looked up at an eight-foot-tall monster, covered in brown shaggy fur, with big pointy ears and a long muzzle like a wolf’s, drooling saliva as it snarled at him.
“You owe me a new hat, Faust,” Green Arrow muttered defiantly.
Faust just threw his head back and laughed. “I’ll have one sent to your funeral,” he chuckled. “Meet Lupus Maximus, the ultimate wolf! I’ve conjured him from the nether depths, just to kill you!”
“Again, lucky me,” Green Arrow said. The wolf-thing lunged at him, but he leaped out of the way. He fired an arrow that struck the wolf-thing square in the head. It delivered a powerful electric shock, but the wolf-thing just shrugged it off and made another swipe. Green Arrow dived away like a football player diving for the ball, and the claws missed him by inches.
I knew I had to do something. My old friend couldn’t out-jump that werewolf thing forever. But what could I do? My eyes darted around the storeroom, looking for something, anything! Finally, they lit on a box of medals we had just unloaded. My mind was racing. Werewolves! Silver! Quickly I grabbed a medal, a silver star, from the box.
“Green Arrow!” I cried, tossing him the medal. He didn’t see what it was at first, but he caught it instinctively. When he looked at the glittering silver star in his green-gloved palm, he grinned with understanding. Quickly he lashed the silver medal around the head of an arrow, notched it, and fired it at the werewolf. The arrow struck the wolf-beast in the chest and exploded, driving the silver deep into its body. The wolf let out a big howl and collapsed forward onto the floor. Green Arrow drew another arrow, but the wolf lay still.
“Great work, Joe!” Green Arrow cried. “Now to take care of Fau — huh?” But when Green Arrow turned around, Faust was lying on the floor too, one side of his funny hat all caved in. I stood over him, holding the remains of a broken ceramic pitcher by the handle and grinning.
“Faust won’t be botherin’ you anymore, Green Arrow,” I said. “Not today, anyway.”
“I guess not,” Green Arrow said with a grin. “You’ve done it again, Joe!”
“Wow!” the little boy who’d asked for the monsters said in awe. “Mr. Armott, you’re the best!“
“Did that really happen?” asked a little blonde girl with her hair in pigtails.
“Why, sure it did!” Armott said proudly. “You’d better believe it. It happened back there in the storeroom, not ten feet from… here…”
Armott’s voice grew weak as he looked up and saw a powerful, green-clothed figure. Green Arrow stood in the open doorway of the shop, leaning against the doorjamb, arms folded across his chest. A bemused expression was on his face.
“Wow!” Jimmy said, looking up. “It’s Green Arrow! He’s really here!” The other children shrieked in delight at seeing their hero.
Armott flushed in embarrassment. How much had Green Arrow heard? He was in trouble. Green Arrow was a very important man, a member of the mighty Justice League; he surely wouldn’t allow his reputation to be tarnished by a silly old man. Would Jimmy ever speak to him again?
After a tense moment’s silent, Green Arrow smiled broadly and waved to Armott. “Hi, Joe,” he said warmly. “I was passing by and thought I’d say hello. How’s my old friend?”
Armott was stunned, but only momentarily. “Oh, fine, fine!” he said, grinning. “I was just telling my grandson and his friends about the time we fought Felix Faust and his werewolf!”
“Yeah, you sure saved my butt that time,” Green Arrow said. He then looked down at the kids. “You must be Jimmy, right?” he said, smiling at the six-year-old. “Your grandpa’s told me all about you! Didn’t mention what a big, strong guy you are, though!”
“Wow, this is so cool, Green Arrow!” Jimmy said in awe. “You’re my favorite hero of all!”
“Mine, too,” Armott whispered.