We have a thread going on about getting illegal fireworks, and it reminded me of a simpler time in life. A time without jobs, without dates, being too young to drive (which for some reason contributed to the lack of dates) and, in the case of 4th of July summertime, without school.
Those were great times, those middle school summers. Good friends, few cares, and a whole lot of free time to get into mischief. Illegal fireworks have brought this memory to the forefront, and, statute of limitations being what they are, I figured it was now safe to recount this, approximately 16 years later.
My best friend (we'll use the letter H) had a mother who, in retrospect, may have been slightly enabling and not safe, but at the time, we thought she was the coolest. She would make frequent business trips to Tennessee, and always managed to procure a stash of M-80's, Roman Candles, and other goodies for us kids. One of these goodies you might be familiar with was what we called "scribs" though I'm aware they have many names. They look like this.
By themselves, relatively harmless. Sure, we played the game of "hold the firework while someone else lights it and then throw it before it explodes" and somehow none of us lost fingers. By themselves, they sounded like a low caliber gunshot, but that's small potatos. Because on one trip back, H's mother presented us with this son of a *****.....
5,000 of them strung together in a big roll. Now in her defense, I'm sure she expected us to do with it like we did all the others, take is apart and shoot them off in singles or batches. But our young teenage minds had bigger plans for its future.
We decided we were going to go on a firework run. We called it a run probably because we had heard the phrase "food run" or "beer run" and somehow got mixed up, since we were planning on dispensing fireworks rather than buying more of them, legally not allowed in this state. But it will be referred to as a run from now on for the remainder of this story.
The weekend before our planned date of execution, we met in H's basement. M was there, as he was our partner in crime. We had already decided we were going to light this bad boy off in full, the question was when, where, and how? We came to a consensus on when...sometime in the early morning, 2:00 a.m. or so, when it would cause maximum surprise and panic. Where....we decided on a neighborhood near mine, separated by a dense forest, a perfect escape route. But how would we get away? Anyone who has shot these things off knows the fuses don't last but a second. We needed a timer. H found the answer. Incense cones.
This was perfect because his parents already had a bunch. We grabbed a stash of them and began testing them. We drilled holes in them to make sure we could thread the fuse properly. We burned them and used stopwatches to test how much getaway time we would have...about 10 minutes. Finally we drilled two perfect holes in one cone (one from the bottom, one from the side, and threaded the monster. We were ready.
On the planned date of execution, H and M slept over at my place, under the auspices of played SNES all night, a frequent occurance. M decided we needed to make this a full on operation, he has gather a bunch of wine corks from his parents house, and we proceeded to light them and blacken our faces, even though we didn't have ski masks. I guess we didn't care, we were determined not to let our pale skin flash in the moonlight.
The corking done, we waited for my mother to go to sleep, played a few hours of Super Nintendo, waited till about 1:45 a.m., and then snuck out the back door and through the yard. It is now that I must introduce you to the neighborhood layout. I have even drawn a map in Paint just for this post, to assist you in following our adventure.
Important Landmarks. I lived in a townhouse in the lower left portion. There was a giant hill right next to our section. Woods ran behind our house and separated us from the rest of my neighborhood. The woods behind my house joined to a much larger forest which we had used extensively in our youth. In fact, our elementary and middle schools were on the other side, and the woods were our cut through to get there. Add to that hide and seek, biking, paintball...we could have walked every path in the dark with our eyes closed.
Maybe 1/4 of a mile away was our target neighborhood. In truth, as you can see by the crude road I drew, it was another section of my own development, but they were prime targets because we knew all the getaway paths. The black dotted line I have drawn was our path out, the blue line was our return. This is obviously not to scale...in truth our path in and out were much longer and more roundabout, we were being very careful and doing recon **** to make ourselves feel more awesome.
Eventually, we approached the target neighborhood from the north (at least on this map). Carefully, we unloaded the monster out of H's backpack and unrolled it down the street. We made sure it was straight, not twisted, and that the cone and fuses were dry. The only light was from porch lights and far off street lamps. We lit the cone and stole away into the darkness.
Once we were back in the woods, we ran, even though it was pitch dark. We didn't want to take any chances at this point that the cone would last a full ten minutes. We still took a roundabout way home, but by the time we got out of the main forest, we were in the area designated "rest of my neighboorhood" and were following the "fence line" back to my section of woods.
Right when we got to the fence line, the fuse lit. It sounded like we were in the middle of a war, it was a damn machine gun going off, with occasional explosions where more than 1 was going off at once. I had no idea how long it would take for 5,000 of those explosive bastards to go off, but it felt like 10 minutes, was probably closer to 2 or 3. Nothing but a stream of explosions...to our 13/14 year old minds, it was glorious, except for one problem. We weren't home yet, and all hell was breaking loose.
Dogs were barking...people were yelling, lights were going on everywhere. We threw ourselves against the fence line and commando crawled our way back to the small woods entrance, then made a quick dash in and got through the back door and into my basement. We were covered in burnt cork, our clothes and shoes were covered in dirt and leaves, and we felt great. The worst any of us had suffered was a thorn pull. Exhausted, we played more Street Fighter II and eventually passed out.
Over the next few years, we went on a few more "firework runs" but we were never able to recapture the magic of the first one. For one, we never got ahold of another big monster, so we used those fountains that are supposed to be the last thing you set off in backyards. They aren't nearly as cool, but they can be loud. Or we'd set off a batch of those whistling dixie bastards, but they weren't as good either. Sometimes the incense cone fuses would fizzle out or break, and we'd come back to find that the firework we had left was still intact, having never lit, or that it was gone, taken by someone else. Eventually, we got our drivers licenses and moved on to other pursuits, though we would still occasionally get into firework related mischief. But it was just never the same as that first time. Sometimes, I really miss those days.
Anyway, that was my reminiscing for today. Feel free to comment or share your own tale of teenage hijinks, but please make sure it's something (relatively) harmless. I don't want to hear stories of how you beat a guy with a bike chain or crap like that. Bonus points for well thought out, elaborate plans. If this thread gains any traction, I'll tell a few more stories.