I was always the one to avoid trouble, but sometimes the heat rises too slowly for you to perceive danger. That’s what happened when I was with Tommy. Tommy was the cool, older kid in our neighborhood group. Our group was always hanging out, whether we were playing football or laying on our driveways. I was the youngest out of all of us and the most timid. My friends usually came up with ideas which could get us in trouble and I usually went along with it so I could fit in (insert Simple Plan lyrics: I’m just a kid and life is a nightmare!).
Tommy was in middle school which made him the Alpha, and he became a true dream-maker when he bought an airsoft gun. I was still in elementary school; this was too much power for my innocence.
I went to Tommy’s house after school one day, the usual. He was always in the garage and it was always open and I always felt welcome. Always always always, especially when he had ice-pops in the in the garage freezer. Those were the bee’s knees.
“Look what I just got, dude.” He was brandishing his new plastic weapon in my face.
“Woah,” I said. I didn’t really know what else to say. It was cool but I didn’t know what his plans were.
“Let’s go shoot it,” He said.
Now I must have been naïve because not only did I agree to go shoot stuff, not something I’d normally do, but I agreed with Tommy to let him shoot it at my leg if he’d let me return the favor. Grand idea, especially when my dad was not only over-protective but extremely reactive: he would hang Tommy by his big toe if I came home with a mark on me (after hanging me for being stupid). This wasn’t a concern at the time. Out of sight, out of mind.
Tommy stood in the middle of the street as I walked to the top of our neighbors’ driveway and faced the garage. We must have known this could get us in trouble because we did it while the neighbors’ weren’t home; we didn’t have the audacity to try this in front of our own homes.Tommy tried to aim for the back of my legs. The keyword here is tried. I cupped my hands over my private parts (safety first), lowered my head and shut my eyes.
Tommy cocked the gun and said, “Ready?”
“Yea.” I said, I was as ready as I could have been. PAH! Tommy missed my legs. If it wasn’t onomatopoeia-overkill I might display the subsequent sound effects: The high-velocity bead hitting the inclined driveway in between my feet and shooting up at my face. It hit me above my right eye, below my eyebrow. Talk about a close call. I went into a little bit of shock, it was more of a “Wow” moment than an “Ouch” moment as I realized how dangerous it was. It’s funny how little situational awareness children have, or maybe it’s just me. (Hopefully you can relate.)
Anyway, a welt formed above my right eye as Tommy expressed concern.
“I guess we’re done,” he said and we went to put the gun away. I knew I couldn’t go home yet, I risked Tommy and I being hung by my own father. I waited outside awkwardly for other neighbors to come out and play as the battle wound slowly dissipated.
“David, how was your day?” My father asked, when I finally returned home.
“It was good,” I said.
Edited by Sabrina Loftus