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The Apple War: Sibling Rivalry
There are places in this world that seem to hold you. Places that beckon you to return, no matter how far away you are. The memories that formed during your time there are carried with you like your shadow where ever you go. Leaving a mark on your soul and shaping your character. Like a dear friend you visit them often, allowing them to bring comfort, cheer, and guidance for your well being. For me Loyalton, California is such a place.
The following, is one of my more cherished memories from my time in Loyalton. I spent the majority of my childhood playing in her streets. I share this for my own enjoyment and because I wish my children to have these stories as well. For part of knowing who you are is knowing where you have been.
Kevin is a Jerk... at least that is what I thought back than. He's not now, but at the time, no qestion. Had you looked up the word Jerk in the dictionary you would have found his picture next to it. Another well known fact is that older brothers deserved whatever they got. He was 5 years older than I was ..... well, actually, 4.5 but whose counting? As the little brother, it was my job to show no mercy, and do whatever I could get away with. Because I am the youngest of 5 kids, that was pretty much everything.
For me, it was all about revenge. In the game of Tit for Tat, Kevin always seemed to be 10 tats ahead of me. So when Scott Fisher and I found ourselves in the perfect position to rain down terror in the form of apple bombs, we took full advantage of our tactically superior position.
It all started because we were bored. My next door neighbor, Cal Anderson, had two fair sized apple trees in his front yard next to the fence. which meant we were able to climb them without actually going into his yard. This was important because it allowed us to say, we hadn't actually gone into his yard. On this day, we decided to climb one since we had nothing better to do. I remember that the apples had already started to fall and the smell of apple delighted my senses. The leaves on the tree were still very full and created perfect cover . Unless you had seen us go up, or heard us talking, It was a perfect hiding place. We loved this tree. It was our favorite. It gave us perfect cover, yet it allowed us to see the road.
Now It was pretty well known that Cal didn't like kids. Especially when he found them up in his trees; He was in his 40's and slim. It seems like he had dark hair but I am not sure. Nor can I remember his face .... This is because I never had a chance to look at it! We were always running from him. You see, we knew that if he were to catch us, he would kill us dead, then feed us to his St. Bernard, Brutus. It was this fact alone that made climbing his trees fun.
He was not like most neighbors. I don't remember him ever waving as he drove by. He didn't seem very happy. Nor did he spend much time outside. When he did, it was always in his back yard where I couldn't see him. I suspect that he worked to much.
There were times he saw us up in his trees. He would begin yelling and hollering like an angry banshee. Then he would charge the tree in fits of anger. I can still remember him shouting "You BLANK kids! Get out of my BLANK Tree! If I catch you in my BLANK tree one more BLANK time, I am going to rip your BLANK heads off! Do you hear me BLANKETY BLANK BLANK?! " The funny thing was, he never ratted us out. I do not recall him ever saying anything to my parents about it.
Because of this, we had a system. We would look to see if his truck was in the driveway. Then once we were fairly sure he was gone, we would climb up. We knew about what time he would be home from work but just in case we would keep a watchful eye out. As you can imagine, this system was not without its failures, so as a precaution, once in position in the tree. We made sure we had a quick exit. Scott was older than me by a year, which made him braver evidenced, by the fact that he was able to jump from higher branches. Regardless, I was surprised at what heights I was willing to leap from when faced with the real possibility of becoming dog chow!
A Rotten Apple
For some unknown reason, Scott had a sudden flash of inspiration. He decided to brake off a switch like branch and shove an apple on the end of it. holding the bottom of the stick tightly, he then wound up like he was going to throw a baseball. Without letting go of the branch, he snapped the stick forward as fast as he could. The effect was the apple flying off the branch like a super powered catapult. To our amazement, we found that we were able to throw the apples farther and faster with incredible accuracy. I was sure this idea was a gift from God so naturally my thoughts tuned to my brother, Kevin.
Elated, I suggested we gather a stash of apples and lay in wait. Kevin spent as much time outside as I did, so I was sure it was just a matter of time before he would be within our grasp. So we started to work. The rotten apples made a very satisfying splat when they hit so naturally they were our first choice. The rest we would hit on the ground, making them softer. This would soften the impact of the apple after all we didn't want to kill, just get even.
We waited in the tree for what seemed like forever. After a while, we took turns going down the tree and acting like a lookout. Looking up and down the street to see if we could see him coming. After about an hour of waiting, our patience paid off. Sure enough Kevin and his friend were seen coming down the street toward home on their bicycles.
Now the problem was, he was coming from the wrong direction. He was going to get to the safety of our house without passing in front of the tree. Some quick thinking was required. So I waited for him to get within earshot, then I called out in a loud sing- songy, tormenting voice "Kevin - is- a- sissy!" After that I called him a jerk and what ever else came to mind. Being careful not to break the most holy of all rules in the Rushing home, no cussing! Breaking this rule would call lighting down upon me and deliver me straight into the hands of the devil.
I am not sure why Kevin fell for it. It was the oldest trick in the book and not even very clever. I think simply, curiosity got the better of him. It was like God had delivered him into our hands. I could tell by the look on his face he knew something was up. But because we were well hidden he could not tell what. From his perspective I was just a voice in the tree. I quivered with anticipation. As he and his friend slowly maneuvered their bikes into the targeted position on the street, I quietly lifted the apple of death. Just at the right moment, I shouted ATTACK! Both Scott and I let fly two of the grossest apples we could find. I don't know what happened to Scott's apple, but mine found its mark at the back of Kevin's head. The sight of the rotten apple splatting against his head, then sliding around to the side, leaving a trail of Apple sauce over to his ear, was so funny I nearly fall out of the tree. However, I had no time to celebrate my victory, Like a flash we had our sticks reloaded and the rain of terror began.
Like mad men they ran for cover and with military-like strategy they managed to get to tree number two. While under fire, they loaded up their own sticks and apples and thus began the war. After that it was apple sauce and worms. It didn't take long before we had every kid on the block involved in the apple war. I am sure we would have used up every apple on that tree had Cal not come home. Like a fire alarm someone shouted, "Cal's Coming!" In an instant we all disappeared. Leaving the evidence of the riot everywhere. But not one kid to pin it on. As Cal drove into his drive way, I could hear him shouting even though his window was up , "THOSE BLANKETY-BLANK KIDS...........!" Poor Cal.. He sure didn't like kids.
As I ran to my house the feeling of satisfaction filled my soul. I had managed to get the upper hand on Kevin. A very rare event worth remembering. Some brilliant poet somewhere once wrote that revenge is sweet. I believe this is true. For me, it tasted like apples.
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