I will be the first to testify and, despite my obvious bias, I still believe that I am completely accurate when I say that my parents are the best that any kid has or will ever have. My mother, though, regardless of her efforts, repeatedly made a fatal error my upbringing; she never learned that, despite her trust in me, any adolescent boy left idle and unsupervised for any length of time will eventually turn to no good. Such was the case on a particular August afternoon.
August, for any grade-schooler, is without a doubt the most despicable of months. Even
May, when pre-adolescents are being driven mad by the promise of summer lying so close but unattainable before them cannot compare to the sultry anticlimax of August. Indignant with both the boredom of the summer’s general inactivity and the prospect of having to go back to school, most boys seem to focus the bulk of their energies, subconsciously or with purpose, into getting in trouble. I was no different.
It was a miserably hot day, two weeks before the start of the seventh grade. Having been
literally forced out of the house by my mother (who was, no doubt, a little weary of the constant company of her sons), my neighbor Mike Jones and I were restlessly loitering about the back yard. Now mom considered Mike a class A bad influence on her me (she told me so often and with fervor), but despite her disapproval, half-hearted though it was, I made it a point to spend nearly every day with him. No doubt, we were growing a little weary of each others’ company as well.
The day had been spent frivolously; endeavoring to keep cool in the stifling Midwestern
humidity, we mostly stuck to squirting each other with water guns and hoses. It was close to three o’clock in the afternoon, though, and the waterguns just failed to hold our interest as they had four hours previously. We were sitting around doing absolutely nothing when I suddenly touched upon an idea which I considered to be divinely inspired; we would commandeer a water weapon, the greatness of which neither of our meager minds could ever hope to comprehend; a device so powerful it could launch spheres of dihydrogen monoxide distances that would spin your head. We were going to break out the water-balloon slingshot!
Our experiments with this strangely mysterious implement of destruction were at first
occupied by shooting water-balloons over the house. Like a skillful mortar crew, we first scouted out a suitable target. Then, after careful calculations and tedious positioning, we proceeded to send a projectile lofting over the roof toward the street, where it would subsequently crash down onto the roof of my neighbor’s Pontiac Bonneville, the hollow, metallic thud letting us know we had hit our mark. However, after about twenty minutes of this, when we had perfected the technique to our satisfaction, we struck upon another brilliant idea. You see, my backyard culminates in a massive hill that was formed when Interstate...