There Used to be Heroes

I grew up in a time filled with heroes, and many of them left a lasting impression on me. Some were real, and some were fictional, but they all stood for what was right and good. I wanted to be like them.

There Used to be Heroes 


The old man stared into the dying embers of the fire

As one glowing coal hissed a fleeting spear of flame

The flame danced then fluttered and died

A wisp of smoke drifted into the starry night


The old man’s companion, equally ancient, spoke softly

“Reminds me of you and me, my friend”

The white man nodded solemnly, pushed long gray hair aside

With a trembling age-spotted hand and said “Dying?”


A long silence followed, then “Is that how you see it?”

Another silence “It is what it is”

He looked at his dark-skinned companion

“We’ve lived a good life… fought the good fight”


Coyotes yipped excitedly in the distance

The two men stared into the dark distance

The fading fire snapped, drawing their eyes back to it

The gray-haired one asked “Did we do any good?”


“We did our best” the Indian answered

“We did what was right for our God

For our country… and our fellow man”

A star streaked across the sky like a silver bullet


The Indian sensed his friend’s troubled heart

“What is it, Kemo Sabe?

What troubles you in these last hours?”

The old man closed his eyes… “The mask” he said


His friend nodded solemnly

Understanding the ache in his lifelong companion’s heart

The pain of living life behind a mask

The pain of doing good and no one knowing


The old man looked at the small black mask

Then tossed it onto the last remnants of the fire

Smoke curled ‘round it then it caught and flamed

In an instant it was gone


The night was silent

The stars stood still

The two shared a final curt nod

And then they slept


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn


Me in my Lone Ranger outfit

Sharing this on dVerse Poets Pub’s, Poetics: Self Portrait


  1. Mary said

    Indeed to do one’s best is a worthy goal, Kemo Sabe!

  2. Super charming and poignant. And what a pic! I posted from Nose Dive, so you’ve already done your part there. Ha. k.

    • Thank you, k! I loved Nose Dive! No sequel yet??

      • Ha! No. I have other manuscripts I feel I should do and have been too busy with day job and night job (blogging). Ha! But you know there is a nanowrimo coming up so maybe I’ll consider it. I think I’d have better luck selling an adult novel though = you know in terms of the circles in which I move – though a sequel would be fun.
        Thanks much.

  3. What a lovely story Charles ~ I like the tossing out of the mask to the fire, and fighting for the goodness of others till the end ~

  4. fantastic tale. Really an excellent job drawing us in and then keeping us itching to find out what came next. I love the uniqueness of your response, it’s one of those exceptional pieces you remember why you yourself chose to stick with storytelling, for pieces like this. Outstanding read Charles. Thanks for sharing this tonight.

  5. nice….love the lone ranger…and maybe in the finale we all get to burn those masks and just be in out final days…you really set the scene well in this…it was comfortable…been by that fire…

    • I think you caught my drift, Brian. We all seem to wear a mask of sorts; trying to fit in and get along, while attempting to rise above the fray and do a little good with our time on the rock. Thanks!

  6. Gay Cannon said

    Like all the allusions to that “masked man”. A hero to so many, especially in Texas I think. He made a mark on you from childhood on; I know you are one of those men a woman can always count on, to fix a flat, load a truck, climb a ladder, haul some water, fix a roof. We have come to count on our neighbors here in Texas and in the West; it has changed some, but there seems to me that God sent those special guys here – part good ol’ boy, part angel. I know you’re one of them.

    • Wow! Thanks, Gay. I don’t know if I measure up to your compliments, but I do try.

  7. Loved the Lone Ranger Pic! I think we all wear a mask of some sort throughout all the stages of life but all we can do is our best to make it through and hopefully leave it for the better. Great write Charles.

    • Yes, I think we all wear a mask, too. Hopefully, our actions override it.
      Thanks, Dianne!

  8. Aww…. sad.. poignant, Yes, it’s such a shame to have to live your whole life behind a mask and never be who you really are.
    Lovely story Charles.

  9. This made me smile big, I’m always trying to burn that mask but there seem to be people in my life wanting me to keep it on. I always wanted to be a do-gooder too and the kids unkindly called me goody two-shoes and teacher’s pet. Wonderful work!

    • I know what you mean, Anna. I’ve burned many a mask over the years, but then it seems someone always taps me on the shoulder nad says, “Here, put this on.”
      Thank you!

  10. kkkkaty said

    …how refreshing to put the Lone Ranger in the spotlight…but you are there expressing your need to be free of all masks in this life…

  11. Chaty Lorens said

    Great symbol as the mask is tossed into the fire—somehow letting the hero be himself, finally. That was quite uplifting and warming. Thanks.

  12. Thanks for the memories, Kemo Sabe! Wonderful poetry! May we all one day be able to shed our own masks of life and peacefully sleep. Love the picture:>)

    • Thank you very much, Sharla! I’m glad you enjoyed it and, yes, I hope so, too!

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