“A Successful Collection of Failures”
Passing the Time
One summer when Steve and I were still in elementary school, we became bored and looked for something to do. We were old enough to play unsupervised and would have been allowed to walk to the nearby park on our own had we suggested this to either of our parents. Both my mom and dad were home on this particular day, but they were busy and could not attend to our entertainment.
On this morning, Steve and I were discussing different games we could play. We agreed that the best activity to engage in would be one that would last all day long. Otherwise, we would be back struggling to find a cure for our boredom in short order.
I dont remember which one of us first suggested the new game, but I do remember agreeing with Steve and commenting, “Well play spear all day.” Spear was a game not yet invented. In fact, we were just making it up at the time. We decided it would be great fun to throw spears at each other, all day long.
Not once did either of us think about the dangers involved. We had seen many battles fought on TV with spears and all the important people made it to the end without any major casualty. Besides, the girls loved it if you were slightly scarred.
We found two broom handles made of hardwood that were similar to a spear but not nearly sharp enough for our liking. We dared not ask for the use of a knife, since our parents would not have approved. We werent even allowed to use steak knives at the dinner table. Now…how could we sharpen our spears?
We tried various techniques to whittle them down. Eventually we began to file them in a primitive sanding sort of action on the square patio stones in front of our house. This graduated to pushing the wooden sticks up and down the concrete driveway until our backs began to hurt from the strain of maintaining pressure on the lower half of the broom handle. Later, we found a more efficient manner with which to craft our homemade weapons. We held them waist high and scraped them along the bricks in the breezeway between our house and the garage. It was here Steve and I manufactured our first lethal armaments.
Together we walked up and down the breezeway shaping our wooden poles. We had been able to coordinate Steve scraping his along the bricks on the outside of the house while I did the same using the garage bricks on the other side of the breezeway. Together, we continued walking up and down the pathway, first in the opposite direction, and then later in the same direction with a patterned step. This was done to facilitate friendly conversations between us while we sharpened our wooden spears, preparing them for the all day battle.
The rhythm we maintained as we marched up and down the corridor allowed us to exit the ends of the breezeway simultaneously and turn around together with such coordinated precision it felt as though we had a true militaristic flare. It is also possible we looked more like a couple idiots practicing for an audition to act as soldiers who would announce time in cuckoo-clock fashion for a local stage production.
In either case, our plan to throw sharp objects at each other— all day long—in a friendly game of spear, was creating a great bond between us. By mid morning, we had created two weapons sharp enough to pierce straight through the abdomen of any living thing. Of course, they would have to be thrust by someone foolish enough to engage in such an act. Steve and I anxiously made the preparations for precisely such an event.
We set out the rules of the game. There were no rules—this was war. Eager to bring our efforts of the morning into fruition, we decided on a battlefield: the front lawn. Fortunately, there were no neighbours outside to observe the two boneheads in action and embarrass our parents more than we had on prior occasions.
We had prepared ourselves for action like no previous sibling rivalry. But how were we to begin? Then it came to me. I could make it appear as if I was giving Steve the upper hand by letting him start us off. I asked that he count to three then say “Go.” While he was busy counting, he wouldnt be ready for the first throw until a moment or so after actually saying the word “go” and I would gain the advantage. He counted slowly and I readied myself for the precise moment my arsenal could be legally released.
The instant my unsuspecting brother said, “go” I released my spear with all the strength I could muster. He barely had time to turn away from the oncoming missile before he was struck in the back. He screamed. Our all day battle was over in less than a second. Steve lay moaning on the front lawn in a pathetic state as neighbours began to come out of their houses to see what all the commotion was about.
It didnt look good for Steve. The weapon was no longer in my hand and I appeared innocent. To approaching onlookers, it appeared as if a careless child had somehow injured himself with one of the two spears that lay beside him. If not for my presence, it may have constituted one of those brainteasers in which one has only twenty questions to figure out what happened.
The look my dad gave me when he arrived at the crime scene suggested he needed less than twenty questions to figure out “who dun it.” Fortunately for Steve, I had no more javelin throwing experience than any other eight year old. Poor technique on my part resulted in the spear pivoting in the air before striking Steve in the back with the blunt end as he made a desperate but noble attempt to avoid my oncoming missile. No significant injuries were sustained.
After my dad had finally pieced together what had precipitated our one-second war, he promptly sent me to my room for the rest of the day. Both Steve and I ended this day just as bored as we were at the start—but at least I passed the time uninjured.
Just because your sibling lets you call the shots doesn't mean you won't get stabbed in the back.
Home|Book Launch Review|Order Books|Publications|Testimonials|Book Stores Listing|Comments|About the Authors|Offer a Story|Links|Contact Us
Sample Stories|Preface|Table of Contents|Home Improvements|The Algonquin|Easter Celebrations|Passing the Time|A Tale of Two Ties|Bumping Heads