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Who was that masked man? Episode 1

Last week, when interviewed by Fox Business News, President Trump was asked about his resistance to wearing a mask, that now defiant denial of the virus made manifest. Trump said, “I’m all for masks. I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked. It was a dark, black mask and I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger. If people feel good about it, they should do it.”

Hearing Trump compare his mask wearing to that of the Lone Ranger made me smile. And shake my head. If he was wearing his mask like the Ranger, well, he would be bumping into the furniture in the Oval Office. Plus, the Ranger’s mask was all about concealing his identity. For Trump not wearing a mask in public is all about maintaining his vanity-saturated identity as commander in chief, and he has made it clear that this CIC has no intention of wearing a mask, regardless of its established efficacy in preventing this virus that is stalking our nation. It is, after all, worn for the common good.

Pundits have opined that Americans don’t like to be told what to do. What are we? In middle school? I mean, we’re told to do a bunch of stuff, like don’t drink and drive. Protect others and yourself. And so on.

But on the subject of masks, if you will bear with me, I’d like to share a story with you, not about our maskless president but about that iconic masked man.

I’ll begin at the beginning: There we were, like most Saturdays, seated in the balcony of the Laurel Theatre, mitts and bats at our feet, watching a Republic serial titled “G-Men.” Of course, we remembered the last installment when a nefarious gang kidnapped an heiress and had her hidden in an abandoned warehouse near the docks, tied to a chair, a gag covering her mouth, her frantic eyes moist with panicky tears. A ransom note had been sent to her family, demanding a suitcase of cash along with a warning not to contact the police if they wanted to see their daughter again. Just wait for a call as to where and when the exchange would take place.

Of course, the family did call the government guys who were now in the hunt, most focused on the waterfront. And that’s when the indelible moment occurred. A group of agents was studying a map, spread out on the hood of a black sedan, when one of them leaned forward and pointed to one corner of the map and said something like, “There’s this old abandoned warehouse down by the waterfront.” He pointed to the map. “Right here. Place hasn’t been used in years. Might be worth checking out.”

That’s all he said. But it was enough. The guy, fedora pushed back on his head, looked across the hood of the car, and just for a moment his face was revealed, and his sonorous voice, instantly familiar, lingered. And that’s when a kid in my row, one of our infielders, stood bolt upright and, pointing his chewed Sugar Daddy at the screen, yelled, “It’s him! It’s him! It’s the Lone Ranger!”

You could tell that the other kids, the ones in the balcony, and all those sitting down below, had heard the same thing and suddenly they were on their feet, pointing at the screen, at the guy now carrying the rolled up map walking back to his car. Of course, some kids were looking around, yelling, “Who? Which guy? Where?” You can only imagine how upset they were.

— To be continued ...

Chris Honoré is an Ashland Tidings columnist.