Danger at Sandy Hills
A DANGEROUS ADVENTURE
“Sandy Hills” was a place my brother’s, Tom, Mike and I used to play at in Gulfport, Mississippi. Our Dad was stationed at nearby Keesler, Air Force Base. It wasn’t our favorite place we had ever lived at, although it did have some redeeming social qualities. One of its’ better attractions was we lived practically on the beach. If the fancy ever hit us to go swimming we could be frolicking in the surf in five minutes.
We discovered “Sandy Hills” while exploring our new community on our bicycles. We didn’t know the locations’ real name but that’s what we called it. It was about two miles from our house. The name pretty much summed up its’ main features. There were many places for young kids to play at in the area. But, there’s something about a place your parent’s have placed off limits that appeals to a young boy. Apparently, they had heard from other local parents it wasn’t the safest place for kids to play.
They were correct, of course. There were steep sandy slopes one could easily slip and slide down to an awaiting stream strewn with sharp rocks. Actually, it resembled more of a large drainage ditch than anything else. But the hint of danger and adventure makes an irresistible combination to a couple of youthful teens.
KIDS MADE THEIR OWN FUN
“Back in the day”, kids made their own fun. A pair of old roller skates, a few wooden planks and rope made a “race car”. An old tire and a length of rope became a swing. We had made those things before, but the lure of “Sandy Hills” was sand. If you could find a large old cardboard box you had an excellent instant “sand sled”. All one had to do was grasp an end of the cardboard, pull up on it and push off. The cardboard sled would be sent literally flying down the sand, making for one exciting ride. It was also a great place to shoot off fire crackers. Thus, “Sandy Hills” became our free fun park.
However, other things also attracted us to “Sandy Hills”. On the other side of the stream were woods…glorious woods in which to hunt and camp or explore. We would usually bring our air rifles along to hunt small game. When we tired of sledding that’s what we did. Naturally, our parents had no knowledge we were in possession of the rifles. They would have been immediately confiscated. Our arsenal also included some hunting knives. Tom had become extremely adept at the fine art of knife throwing. We hid all this under our house in a large plastic garbage bag.
We set up a secluded permanent camp site further back in the woods. We were hidden from any prying eyes of the outside world. Or so we thought.
One bright Saturday morning Tom and I went to visit our camp site. To get there we had to cross over the stream. As we were standing atop a sand dune tossing fire crackers down toward the stream, something happened. We heard a pop like the sound of another fire cracker issue forth from the direction of our camp and a spurt of sand shot up inches from my older brothers’ foot. Another pop, another spurt of sand, this time close to my feet. Tom and I stood for a second, not comprehending what had just happened.
A few more pops along with their accompanying sand spurts struck dangerously close and a few more were heard whizzing through air around head level. Tom was first to realize we were being fired upon by somebody hidden in the vicinity of our camp. It sounded like a small caliber rifle. He hit the dirt and hollered for me to do the same. He didn’t have to tell me twice.
We quickly crawled to cover in a few fallen trees and ventured a peek to get a look at whoever was shooting at us. A bigger question was why they were shooting at us.
Tom spied movement in some bushes across the stream and pointed it out to me in a whisper. He slowly unslung his air rifle and motioned for me to do the same. We pumped our rifles as full of air as possible and waited for further movement. Both of us had become exceptional marksmen through countless hours of target practice.
We sighted down our barrels at the spot where we had seen movement before. We didn’t have long to wait. There it was again. Tom and I both fired simultaneously and our pellets found their mark. A yelp and a few curses came from the bushes. We furiously pumped air into our rifles and began firing at will. The unidentified attacker fired off two more quick rounds which missed us by a mile. All it brought him was a volley of pellets in return fire.
Tom and I unceasingly kept up a barrage of fire into the bushes where we had seen our target. By now the hapless shooter was screaming in pain. Apparently one of our shots had found a vulnerable soft spot. But we didn’t quit. An endless stream of our ammo time and time again struck home.
The wounded shooter tried once more to fire but was quickly beaten back down. Tom momentarily quit his assault and cried out to the unknown man. “Hey! We can keep this up all day. We got plenty of ammunition up here…how about you?” However, the fact was we were running short, but he didn’t know that. The man cursed in pain and shouted something about his eye. I guess one of us had hit him there.
Tom added, “By the way, you’re in our camp site”! He punctuated this remark with a few more shots which also were direct hits.
It was evident our assailant had had enough as he hurriedly scrambled to escape. We peppered him with a few more pellets as he fled. When we were certain he had made his getaway, we went to investigate.
At the spot the shots had come from we found some .22 caliber casings. And at the camp site we discovered the man had evidently been hiding out. There were some canned goods, eating utensils and bedding. We also found a few plastic bags containing a brownish tobacco looking stuff. (Later found to be pot which we disposed of.)
On the way home we discussed what we should do. Call the police? Tell our parents? Then we realized we couldn’t tell anybody. We would have been in hot water for sure. We never knew why the man was shooting at us.
So, "THE BATTLE OF "SANDY HILLS" was a secret never revealed to anyone, until now. I just hope Mom never sees this story!