“I’m bad, and that’s good. I’ll never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me” declares Wreck-It Ralph on his way to sacrifice himself to save his friends as he has a revelation that the qualities that make him a video game villain are the same qualities that will make him a hero. The parent watching this along side his or her child probably gets a little misty eyed seeing the nobility in Ralph’s sacrifice and recognizing that Ralph’s desire to be a hero becomes realized once he accepts his role as the antagonist to Fix-It Felix.
Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan The Executioner no. 61 Tiger War, in my life, made the same sacrifice that Ralph made. Through the first few pages, Tiger War became a villain in my life. I hated it. It was cheesy and generic. “This book I’m reading is the Mission Possible II of literature,” I told my wife one evening. But sometimes bad books can become the hero. This book will never be good, and that’s not bad.
My wife became pregnant in late July last year, and we were excited to have no. 2 on the way. We knew that pregnancy with a two year old in the house could be a little chaotic, but millions of families have done it. Things were running fairly smoothly until the week after Thanksgiving. My wife was sentenced to bed rest under threat of a very early preterm labor (about 23 weeks).
Thankfully, I was out of school at the time, so I could help our visiting parents around the house, take care of Stephany, and attend to my son as well. Even though I had no homework to bring home, things were busy, but like Mack Bolan starting his story with a night time parachute drop into the heart of the Tiger Enterprises (a branch of the Nationalist Chinese Army in Thailand and the head of the global heroine industry), a soldier has to do his duty.
As time progressed, things became more complicated. Stephany spent a week in the hospital, and at the same time I had to finish writing a course for Belhaven’s online program. She came home only to return to the hospital a week and a half later. I spent the days half at home and half at the hospital like a nomad, and I always felt like I was never where I was supposed to be. At home, I should have been with her, and at the hospital I should have been home with our son. The weeks went by and counted to a total of ten in between bed rest and the hospital before our son David was born to us about ten weeks early. He is home with us now after spending another five weeks in NICU, and we are so thankful for his health and the health of his mother.
Please do not take this summary of events as a complaint, because we are all very aware of how blessed we are. As my pastor says, “every season has a struggle, and every season has a blessing.” Though this season was full of obvious struggles, we were beyond blessed by the sacrifices of our family members, our friends, and our church community who made sure we were taken cared for. I am not writing this as a sort of venting process, just merely to help set the scene of how upside down our lives had been through that period of time.
At the end of the day, I would get into bed alone with a tired body and a taxed mind emotionally drained next to a cold, unoccupied pillow. I would pray and read some sort of devotional, and then I would pick up Mack Bolan.
Maybe it was the ridiculousness of it all… In a span of about five days, Bolan recruits a native army to over throw a portion of the China’s aggressive heroine business, gets abducted three times… and escapes three times, rides a bull elephant through an ambush, takes over a hostile locomotive, defeats a world class swordsman drug dealer (by being an even greater world class swordsman), and frees a beautiful, Thai princess being forced to marry into the drug world, and he does it all in the name of that little girl… the little girl who took her life, because she had been forced into the heroine rings and saw no other way out.
As ridiculous as it was, it was medicine. I did not need T. S. Elliott or William Faulkner to digest after long, emotional days. I needed cartoons. I needed something to unpack the thoughts and feelings through means of shallow plot lines and unending action. I needed Mack Bolan.
I picked up this book in a closing bookstore a few months ago. There was a whole stack of these books that apparently were pretty popular during the 1980’s. They were 12.5 cents a piece, and I wish I had gotten a few more now. They are… well, not as fine literature as you would see elsewhere on Friends of Atticus, but I will always be very appreciative of at least the 61st chapter in the Mack Bolan saga.
Pages: 185 Total FoA Pages: 39,516