Thatíll teach her


We hide in the narrow hall with our bicycles until the coast is clear.

This means until no one is coming either way up the street to see our charge.

Then we barge out, banging the door open and paddle as hard as we can looking to put as much distance between the house and where weíll be when the fire burns it down.

Dave asks if I smell gas.

I can smell only the aftermath of the match I ignited, sulfur and then the gunpowder-laden wick to the ashcan burning down even in my mind Ė as if for all the peddling we do, and as fast as we make our bikes go, we wonít escape n time and be in line of sight when the fireworks go off.

It takes too long.

In my mind the ashcan has exploded a dozen times and yet has not yet gone off in the house where we planted it.

Maybe we should go back and look to make certain the fuse didnít sputter out.


Our luck we would get to the door again and have it explode in our faces.

All out plans seem to turn bad on us.

Half the reason we need to get even with the old lady is because she called the police on our last scheme.

All we did was cut through her yard.

That was enough for the police to find out when she complained.

The next thing we knew we had a cop with his hands on our shoulders when we thought we were safe in the sweet shop.

I got work in the yard for a week, plotting out revenge as I plucked out weeds.

Dave argued against the ashcan, thinking the old lady might keel over from a heart attack on its account.

I saw she was tough as nailed, always bitching about something, about cars going passed too fast at night or how the telephone company screwed up her phone when she had the same phone since Alexander Graham Bell invented it.

She made so many calls to the police she might have worn the phone out, always mumbling about water dripping or gas leaking, I was shocked to think the cops bothered to pay attention to her when she called them on our cutting through her yard.

But they did.

So we wet the ashcan in her vestibule, knowing how she always keeps it open so that the paper boy wonít leave the paper on the stoop to get all wet.

Then we ran.

And we are still running, pumping our legs on the bike peddles to keep up with the pace of our hearts.

If anybodyís going to die of a heart attack over this, it will be us.

When the boom comes, it sounds big, as if we had peddled towards the explosion, not away from it.

Dave says itís too big for what we set off.

I agree.

So we turned back and get to the house just as the fire trucks around, flames shooting out every window, as one of the cops scratches his head and mumbles something about there really being a gas leak this time.


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