Unmasking the Truth

As I left the house, I put on my N-95 mask.

The mask tightly clung to my head.

The tightness caused my brain to flash back to a conversation I had with my father almost 60 years ago.

It took place in our den, in front of our black and white Zenith, while we sat and watched an episode of the Lone Ranger.

You remember the show’s intro:

“In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”

You recall:

Rossini’s William Tell Overture

Silver bullets;

“Hi-yo, Silver! Away!”;

And the show’s usual last bit of dialogue, “Who was that masked man?”

Great memories often lead to fond memories.

“Dad, why does Lone Ranger wear that black mask?”

“He wanted to hide his identity from the gang that almost killed him but did manage to kill his brother and four other Texas Rangers. He figured it would be easier to get the bad guys if they didn’t know we was alive. So to honor his late brother, he fashioned a domino mask out of his late brother’s vest.”

“What’s a domino mask?”

Dad rimmed of his eyes with his thumbs and index fingers.

“It’s a small rounded mask covering the area around the eyes and the space between them. It was made popular at the Venetian Carnival and by the Lone Ranger.”

“But Dad, most of the cowboys we see on TV mask their identities with bandannas when they rob banks, trains or saloons.”

“Yup Kemo Sabe, while other cowboys wore masks on cattle drives to keep dust out of their mouths and lungs others wore them to mask their criminal identities. There’s a philosopher, Emanuel Kant, who said it best, ‘All things can be used for good or evil.’

Even masks.”

Dad then stood up, reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet.

In his wallet he fished for and found a yellowish piece of paper.

“Son, talking about philosophies, the Lone Ranger has one; I’m going to read it to you because it’s good  moral code. It may serve you well for the rest of your life.

I believe that to have a friend,
a man must be one.

That all men are created equal
and that everyone has within himself
the power to make this a better world.

That God put the firewood there
but that every man
must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared
physically, mentally, and morally
to fight when necessary
for what is right.

That a man should make the most
of what equipment he has.

That ‘this government,
of the people, by the people
and for the people’
shall live always.

That men should live by
the rule of what is best
for the greatest number.

That sooner or later…
somewhere…somehow…
we must settle with the world
and make payment for what we have taken.

That all things change but truth,
and that truth alone, lives on forever.

In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”

“Wow Dad! That’s some code.”

He handed me the yellowed piece of paper.

“Son, I’ve had this for quite a while, now it’s yours.”

I took it as if I was receiving a piece of holy scripture.

“Thanks Dad. I’ll do my best to follow the code.”

I have no idea whatever happened to that piece of paper.

But I remembered the conversation as if it were yesterday.

I recalled how my role model lived up to the Lone Ranger’s code.

Feeling the need for some fresh air, I pulled off the mask.

I inhaled, smiled and pondered, “During these trying and scary times that code seems to say it all.”

About the Author
South Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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