Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Bad Boys

The Bad Boys? What provoked the enmity between the brood of my siblings and The Bad Boys? It just had always existed. The conflict was about who would dominate the acre of weedy field separating our houses.

A staked wood fence divided our grass back yard from the field. The fence guarded our house and served as a last line of defense.

Kids against the Bad Boys

We won and lost in this kid conflict of the middle 1950s.  We built a fort in No Man’s Land. We set fire to the field. They shot BB guns at us. Rocks and dirt clods flew at moving targets. Both sides had metal and wood sling shots. I preferred wood sling shots because they were hefty and solid.

In the heart of a fight a Bad Boy twirls as the rock I throw hits his chest. They press against us. We’re forced behind the fence and when they start to clamber over,  my older brother asks to let him use my slingshot. I refuse but soon consent. Into the back yard out strides our eldest sibling demanding an end to the fight. The Bad Boys immediately run. They must have mistaken her for our mother.

One hazy early morning I notice a truck size pile of smooth throwing rocks dumped in No Man’s Land. The threat is apparent. Without a share of those rocks we’ll be at a pronounced disadvantage. A sister and I huddle to counter the threat.

We arise at early dawn and sneak to the rock pile. We place them into a pail one at a time because we want it kept quiet. It’s frustrating because we’re in a hurry. I don’t know to this day how the Bad Boys discovered we were there. It was a complete surprise because we didn't see them coming. Four rushed at us throwing a shower of rocks. I took one in the temple and stunned, managed to stay on my feet.  I yelled to my sister to scram and covered her by throwing rocks at the ambushing team as fast as I could. I then slammed out of there myself, our mission failing.
Siblings against the Bad Boys
It’s a quiet afternoon. The Bad Boys loll in their trench in front of their house on the far side of the field.  I ritually eat grasshopper legs for courage. My brother pats me on the shoulder. I sprint toward them with a fist full of dirt. Not directly, but around the side. They're caught off guard when I throw dirt and run full tilt back to our side. It’s symbolic. It’s important however to let the Bad Boys know we will provoke. We’re going to unsettle them too.                          

I remember one battle is unusually pitched. We don’t fist fight, but we mix it up hurling rocks back and forth with unusual intensity. The Bad Boys suddenly break and run.  The unexpected event strikes joy into us. We repeatedly leap and shout exultant yells. We not only win that day, we prove the Bad Boys can be as afraid of us as we are of them.

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