Loren Leberman’s mother was right. She told him he’d poke his eye out if Santa brought him knitting needles. Loren begged and she relented. Why Loren wanted knitting needles was beyond her understanding. Loren was the kind of boy that preferred the rough and tumble to the sedative and dull.
On Christmas morning he raced down the stairs and waited patiently as Santa’s gifts were portioned out. His younger sister opened her last gift and everyone’s attention turned to Loren. He opened his gifts one by one. First came an ipod, then a few video games. Clothing followed. Loren's last gift was wrapped in silver with a red bow. The shape gave the contents away. Loren was the proud owner of a pair of knitting needles. His father looked at mother with confusion and worry. Mother shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the words, “That’s what he asked for.” Two hours later Loren was in the emergency room at Cloverdale’s small community hospital. His mother's prophecy was fulfilled.
After all the gifts were opened, the Leberman children disappeared into their rooms to play. Mrs. Leberman told Loren to bring the needles and yarn. She hoped to teach him something simple, like knitting a scarf. He declined. Apparently he and his younger brother Joshua had other plans. One hour later, a quiet Christmas morning was disrupted by a scream. Mother rushed into Loren's room and found him sobbing on his bed. One hand covered his right eye. The other held a knitting needle. Joshua stood at the end of the bed looking defiant. He was breathing heavily. He looked at mother, dropped his needle to the floor and proudly said, "Black Beard is dead! I'm the greatest pirate now!"
“What happened!" Mrs. Leberman shouted to Joshua as she inspected the bleeding wound.
“We were playing pirates. We were sword fighting on the bed. The bed was my ship. He attacked my ship and I fought back and won,” Joshua answered with pride, seemingly uninterested in the injury he inflicted on his brother.
"You two were jumping on the bed and fighting with those knitting needles?!" Mrs. Leberman questioned. "Are you stupid?" Her face turned a deep red. Joshua understood that look and went mute. "I knew you'd poke your eye out. Didn't I say you'd poke your eye out?" she repeated over and over as they grabbed their coats. Dad fetched the car for the trip to the emergency room.
Loren’s eye was saved. He felt bad about the money they spent at the emergency room and the distress he caused his mother. But being a young boy and rather stupid, his sense of pride overwhelmed his remorse. He couldn't forget the shame of loosing the sword fight to his younger brother. There was a burning need for revenge bubbling inside him. A week after the injury Loren invited his cousin Max over for a sleepover. Max and Loren were equally adventurous and stupid. Max listened intently as Loren described the dishonor suffered at the hands of his younger brother. He thought for a moment. Max's brain, not wired to consider consequences, formulated a surprise attach of rubber bands and thumb tacks. Loren thought for a moment, considered the possible pain, and agreed to the idea providing the attack was carried out the pirate way. Joshua had to be given the black mark first. The next morning Joshua woke to find a small piece of paper on his pillow. There was a black circle at its center. He was confused. Suddenly the door to his bedroom flew open...........
Screams brought Mr. and Mrs. Leberman out of a good night's sleep.