Monday, December 03, 2007

Childhood Games

My brother Neil was about seven years my senior. He was a good kid but he had a mean streak that came out now and then. My mother bought him a Benjamin Franklin pellet gun when he was about 16 and he immediately proclaimed himself god. Not the God but some kind of minor god and anyone that didn't like it could talk to Mr. Franklin.
If you pumped that thing up five or six times, it would shoot like a 22 rifle but when you only pumped it once, it would only leave a nasty whelp when he popped you on the leg or rear end.
I got out of hand one day and he popped me on my left thigh. I headed for the house to rat him out to mother. She was judge and jury in such matters and she'd make him pay dearly, I was thinking to myself. Neil headed me off at the pass and said that if I told mother she'd whip him. "You got that right bubba," I snapped. "Well if I get a whuppin, I'll catch you asleep one night and put a grub worm in your ear. He'll eat out your brains and all your wiring and you'll walk around like a zombie for the rest of your life," he said deviously. I was pretty sure he was bluffing, but that threat put a nasty picture in my head and caused bad dreams for a month. On second thought, I decided to give him one more chance.
A bunch of boys from the neighborhood decided to play Cowboys and Indians one warm summer day. I was among the crew that somehow wound up as a Cowboy with Neil. The rest of the boys were Indians. We gave them all a head start and then set out to round 'em up. After an hour or so, we caught all the Indians except for Larry who was extremely fleet of foot. We finally hemmed him up and Neil ordered him tied to a tree. Once restrained, Neil began to interrogate the prisoner. "Where's your camp and the rest of the tribe?" he demanded. "I ain't got no camp, or a tribe either Neil," Larry pleaded. You could hear the panic creeping into his voice. Neil said "tell us where the camp is or we'll burn you at the stake." "I think I hear your mama callin' you Neil," which was Larry's feeble attempt at subterfuge.
We menaced him for a while longer then Neil softened. "If he's gonna start whining we might as well turn him loose." So we cut him free and he ran like the wind back home.
Neil would never have burned Larry alive, but singeing the hair off his arms and legs probably crossed his mind.
If we had played that little game today, not only would we have been chided for being politically incorrect, but we'd probably all have been taken to reform school.

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