This year was a new town, a new school and new friends for all three of us. Mom had even before the move began, prompted us on how to treat all the new people we’d be meeting and how to become friends with them. I was the oldest at 10 and my sister Laurie she was 8 and our smaller brother Vince, 7.
We’d barely settled into our new house as mom rushed to the store to buy school clothes, all of us in tow. As this new day of school began with each of us giddy about how our new clothes fit, tearing off all the store tags and stickers, slicking back our hair, making sure we had all our book bags filled properly, we headed down the road following mom to the new elementary school three blocks away.
Smiling and trying to seem friendly, mom had us sit, as the lady behind the counter checked as to which room we each belonged. Mom walked Vince to his classroom, as Laurie and I were old enough to find our own way. I could tell my younger brother was embarrassed as she led him off. Both my sister and I looked around trying to get over the newness of this place. Then I realized they had separated us! They were sending us off to different classrooms! I’d hoped they’d keep Laurie and me together. As I opened the door to my classroom, I plastered on my ‘Hi, I’m friendly’ smile as I handed the slip of paper to the teacher announcing me as a new arrival. Looking over the classroom, it dropped off my face before the door clicked closed behind me. I suddenly realized by the looks I got from around the room that I was ‘fresh ground meat’.
My new teacher, Mrs. Rodgers had already began the ritual of introducing me to the rest of the class, and a scan, I realized I was in serious trouble. The teachers voice came back to my ear as she was pointing out the spot I was suppose to sit. Not a seat I wanted to sit in. I looked over my surrounding classmates, there was evil in there eyes!
I tried to ‘casually’ walk too my seat. The teacher had been writing my name on the board, as I walked down the row to my seat. Two different legs tried to trip me. Smart as I was, both missed there shot. Though the teacher had caught some type of disruption, I sat down quickly as if to ignore the leg sweeps and pretended nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
My slick movements had caught the room’s attention, as evil sneers showed I looked about. It was only three or four of my classmates, but they sure looked like bullies to me. ‘Oh, this is great’ I thought to myself, as the others realized, I was being marked as a the new target. As the school day wore on, it quickly became clear that I was not going to like this school.
It was lunch time before it sank in, having made not a single friend the whole morning. I was going to get ‘beat-up’! I followed the rest of the class into the lunchroom with about four other classes. The inside of the lunchroom was loud. I realized a few of the teachers were at least monitoring all us kids. I realized that things were starting getting worse when the same three bullies sat down beside me. Kicking my shins, wondering when I would crack and holler out to a teacher. They snickered to each other, telling me how ‘rough’ my life was about to get. Then, it was recess and I realized the teacher ratio had dropped down to about zero. A hundred plus kids and a large field to play in,
I wasn’t out there thirty foot from the building as some classmate kicked both my feet out from under me. I landed hard, but made the mistake of jumping up and turning to confront him. In a quick move, he punched me square in the eye. Somewhere I heard laughter. I had enough! In an angry fit, I raised up to my feet trying to push down anyone that came within arms reach.
Somewhere I was supposed to get respect for standing my ground, NOT! Many fists, now balled up, struck from all directions. Unable to dodge the barrage of them, in slow motion I watched another fist sailed straight at my face, BLAM! I got it straight in the nose. Seeing the blood, everyone scattered. I stood there, crying now and holding my nose. In panic of my own blood, I turned to run for the lunchroom door.
No one seemed to care as I opened the door to the lunchroom and staggering through it sobbing. A teacher suddenly appeared, quickly grabbing napkins and escorted me to the nurse’s office. As I spotted the blood on my brand new shirt, I couldn’t seem to get a hold of my sobs. This day was turning out to be the worst ever!
Hurried to the nurse’s office, a delightful turn of events took place, Mrs. Riccio, the school nurse, was about the prettiest woman I had ever seen in my life. She had compassion towards my plight as I explained what had happened out on the school yard. My nose finally stopped bleeding about the time mom came and picked me up. Explaining my first day, my story seemed to fall on deaf ears as this had ruined her chance at a job interview.
I stayed in my room as she continued to rearrange the house, told to unpack our toys and help empty boxes that still littered new house. Dad wasn’t due home for about two weeks.
We walked back up to the school, to pickup Laurie and Vince. Finding that their day was filled with horror stories as well, mom quickly got tired of hearing the stories, and sent us all out of the house shortly after we got home.
The three of us had wandered to a spot that had become a long silent construction area, noticing the mounds of clay filled dirt stacked over a football field sized area. Each pile was a full dump truck load, each almost eight foot into the air. As we walk through the piles of dirt/clay mixture, we talked about how the school was such a war-zone.
Vince, the smallest of us had seen them first. It was set of trees on all four corners of these sixty plus mounds of dirt. We began to check each wooded area one by one. They were perfect for a fort. Climbing up one he’d noticed a landfill twenty yards past the mounds.
As we talked about the potential of these wooded areas, we checked out the landfill. It had all the raw materials we required as we began dragging all kinds of wood and carpet to each of them. It was getting late… there was nothing more we could do today, realizing that we needed nails and a hammer to do any more. Returning home to dinner, conversation at the table was almost non-existent. Mom told us that tomorrow was a new day and that it would get better. The statement seemed to make the bites of food seem harder to swallow.
The next day we went out thinking things would get better. As it turned out, none of the three of us had made any type of a friend, but at least none of us got pummeled. The second day was finally over, as we noticed a few kids had following us home. They wanted to check out exactly where we lived. I realized it was a bad omen as they hung a half block back, trying not to let on they were following us. Safely climbing the steps, they seemed to vanish. None of us liked it, something was up. We all felt it.
Our homework quickly done, we all decided to head for the forts. I gathered about all the nails I could find in our new garage. Vince found a hammer on the wall inside. He said it was just ‘there’. Laurie had packed a snack for us, as we again headed out. We spent the rest of the day banging wood together as four forts slowly grew within there separate set of tree’s.
The rest of the week seemed to get worse as Vince got mugged for his lunch money and Laurie got her lunch slapped to the floor of the lunchroom. Still between all of us, we’d made no friends. Seemed it was only at our forts we could freely let off the steam, and talk about our rival schoolmates.
Vince discovered the clay cod’s that actually stayed together in a long lob. As Laurie had began to experiment with a ‘clay mixture’ that a held a ball style no matter how hard you whipped it. We joked about how these things could use in a war type situation. Then I’d remembered a rubber band gun that was triggered by a clothespin, as Vince recalled a huge pile of rubber bands over at the dump site.
Collecting up all these he could find, he dropped them in the middle of our fort. I found twenty wood slats that we’d need for the barrels. With a half of roll of found tape, Vince and I built over twenty before we realized we only needed three of them.
Vince had decided to build a crow nest up in his set of trees. Then Laurie wanted on too. After building hers, I decided to build one for my fort, with Vince we build one in the unoccupied fort. We didn’t know ‘why’, we just did.
The first week over with, we had only seemed to make more enemies at school. We decided not to make any friends, just happy we had each other and our forts. Then, the weekend had given us a whole day to play among the mounds of dirt. We played hard! Most of the time it was ‘duck and cover’, as an incoming dirt clod landed too close to one of us. We’d use the ‘zip sticks’ at each other, in close quarters and found that the clay ball’s ‘really stung’ if it struck you. Laurie’s mixture worked great as they’d disintegrate on contact... leaving you mainly covered in small balls of dirt. Laurie was more so in making the clay balls and decorating the forts.
It was Sunday at our new church. It frightened us too suddenly realize we were sharing it with the same mean kids that were at school. Outside, as mom was thanking the pastor, as we had our first run in with them. There were four of them. They all were a team! Frank was the school bully, who had three cronies that frowned as they walked up.
“Well! If it ain’t the new kids,” Frank surprised me, as I realized he was the one who had bloodied my nose that first day.
“You don’t scare me!” I stood straight up to him. Vince and Laurie stood there ground too as they surrounded us. We all turned outward, guarding each others back, our fists up and were ready too finish this up here and now. We hadn’t noticed it, but our actions had attracted attention.
“Children… What are you up too,” Mom’s voice called towards us… seeing that we were surrounded. She left the Pastor, heading our way.
“Got mommy to save you this time... This ain’t over.” Frank said to me dropping his own fists, and backing away.
“We got the place. If you got the time.” Vince said ready to rumble. I couldn’t even believe the words fell out of his mouth. Mom was still walking our way.
“See if you can smile about it tomorrow, punk.” Frank snickered at Vince as they all walked away.
Mom was upset at us for wanting to fight on church property. We were lectured the rest of the way home. After changing out of our good clothes, things seem to lighten up and soon we we’re sent out to play. As normal, we decided to head for the fort. Before we could go, mom needed us to go into town to buy dinner meat from George’s meat market. Giving us explicit instructions, we headed out the door.
Dad had sent us our weeks allowance, as we all decided to take our money into town. In a humored happy walk, we chatted about the fight we’d almost got into at the church. Nobody but us realized this looming threat at school. I was now considered a real disappointment to my mom, as the school had somehow placed blame on me for the disruptions at school. Though mom knew better, it had left the whole family in concern.
We walked to the meat market. On the way was a toy store and in the window, as if by magic, we all three saw it at the same time. Pretty as day, in the stores window, was walky-talkies!
“Look!” My sister stated, her finger jabbing at the glass.
“I see.” I said, my nose pressed against the glass trying to read the packages small print.
“Do we have enough?” Vince asked outside the store.
“Hold on, how much do we have... all together?” I asked, realizing we’d each spent a quarter on a soda, getting up here.
Digging out all our money, we added it all up and realized that we’d have to forget the afternoon movie. However, this would be worth it! In a unanimous decision, we entered the store.
Though we had often walked past the store of toy’s, that seemed to stretch from floor to ceiling, we waited to talk to the cashier about what was in the window, as she walked us to were we could find the item. In a helping hand, she got it off one of the higher shelves. Handing it to us, she made us understand that they would require two batteries, these weren’t included. We looked over the clear plastic container. This was exactly what they needed. The batteries would almost break us, but hey, whatever! We all smiled loudly as we left with our package. The meat market had been waiting for our arrival. Happy relief showed on the smile of the old man who had probably just been on the phone with mom.
We all talked about the four-set of walky-talkies we’d just bought on the way home. Vince wanted to stop and open it, put in the batteries and try them out. Both Laurie and I talked him out of it, in case mom made us return them. However, he had made that impossible. In a sudden rip of the plastic covering. We couldn’t stop him quickly enough,
“Oh crap!” Laurie said seeing his sudden action.
“Vince!” I said, wishing I’d never let him look at them. I snatched them from his grip.
“We need those!” He stated, still trying to dig it back out of my hands.
“Not if we’re DEAD!” I said, tearing the package from his grip. He got frustrated, frowning and following behind us the rest of the way home.
Entering the house, dinner meat in hand, we had left the package of walky-talkies out on the front porch. Mom realized we were up to something and finally cornered us on it. Laurie went out and brought back in the partly open package of walkie-talkies and bag of batteries that accompanied it. She seemed disappointed, until we told her that we all agreed to ‘fore go’ the movie, because we needed these, with promises that we would never pull another stunt like this again. She agreed to drop the whole thing, and shortly after that, we were slapping in the batteries and checking out the range of them. They’d work perfectly! In a couple of nag’s at mom, we got permission to go to our fort and test them out.
Mom ‘knew’ where we were just playing at the dirt mounds, as she had checked out the area almost two days ago, as we almost had to drag her to it. She didn’t even see the potential of the long range idea’s we had. However, she realized that it wasn’t any danger for us and agreed to let us play there.
Agreeing that we could go ahead with the forts, she’d set-up for us to be able to run to a local gas station attendant next to the site, if anything ‘bad’ were to happen. Should if anything happened to us, he’d call mom... which was cool.
It wasn’t twenty minutes later we were playing ‘tag’ among the hill’s as each of us had a walky-talky that were coming in good use. The weekend almost over, we headed back home for dinner and bathes. Tomorrow, it was back to Hades.
The threat at the church had made it hard to sleep. Twice I had bad dreams that night. But the second one, I became in control somehow, as Frank, the bully, was on the other end of the flying mounds of dirt. In my walky-talky, I was giving orders to fire another volley of dirt bombs at him! In my dreams, it was a great life.
The alarm of our mother’s voice pierced the dream. I didn’t want to wake. I was finally winning! Dragging my sleepy head to the breakfast table, my brother and sister stared at me. It was their look of doom, that bothered me.
They too knew that today, I’d probably get smeared all across the playground. There eyes reflected that I was a dead man. Mom, busy with kitchen things, never caught on. I tried to play sick, not wanting to get my butt kicked at school again. I easily made it seem real, picturing the bullies face in my mind. Mom almost fell for it, that was until Vince squealed about the fight at school I was about to get into.
“I told you… If I catch you fighting, or I get another call from the school. You’ll wished I’d never found out!” Mother warned.
Now, I was a dead man either way, as Vince decided to walk behind Laurie and me, knowing if he’d got within arms reach, I’d have rung his neck.
“So, you can’t fight at school. You going to just let him pound on you?” Laurie asked.
“I don’t know,” I said back somberly.
“I promise... I’ll get a teacher as soon as I see him heading for you.” Laurie said. I wanted my last memories of this life to be happy ones.
Somewhere again, the boy’s face set into the background of the flying dirt clods. The large dirt mounds overlooking our fort... and it struck me! I suddenly knew what to do, as a large smile crossed my face.
“Willie? What are you smiling about?” Laurie asked, seeing my sudden smile.
I had to stop walking, using the energy to formulate the idea. Laurie kept questioning me. She thought I’d finally ‘snapped’. I began to explain her my dream, walking again. Laurie thought for sure, I had snapped as I babbled out my dream. Vince, still hanging just out of arms reach, listened to my fantasy dream. I just wanted to end all this ‘bullying garbage’, once and for all.
I knew we needed a place where there were no adults! A place that I could move around, duck, dodge and hide. A place that weapons could be had at an arm’s reach... and someplace I felt safe and in control.
“The HILLS” I stated to them.
“The hills! Our hills? You want to bring him to our fort, are you nut’s?” Laurie asked, not even believing that I would dare give up our only safe place up to a bully no less’!
“It’s perfect! It’s the perfect battle ground... Think about it!” I exclaimed.
“Your nuts!” Laurie stated.
“Hey, wait a minute... he might have something there.” Vince said, coming into arm’s reach for the first time. “I’d love to get Markey there... I’d pound with about a million dirt bombs!”
“Yeah, I like to throw Lucinda down a few dirt mounds myself... but we’d never be able to pull it off,” Laurie pondered. Our mortal enemies, pummeled by dirt clods.
“And... I’d finally be able to punch-out that loudmouth bully Frank!” I smiled seeing the action in my own mind.
Looking at each other, we all realized we had found a common ground and somehow, that we’d already built the place for it. Suddenly, we were all on the same page.
“Let do this!” I said, feeling the strength of my own decision.
“Our fort’s already fully equipped!” Vince agreed.
“I’ve been waiting to pound on Lucinda after knocking my lunch onto the floor. I’m in,” Laurie agreed.
The last block to school, we agreed on the location to meet them. It would be after school ‘today’. We couldn’t seem to wait to get to school. The looks of the kid’s around me as we entered the school told me that Frank was already seeking me out. However, I wasn’t scared anymore, and some of the kid’s sensed it. They went running to inform Frank of this fact, I smiled watching them leave so fast they almost tripped over themselves trying to find Frank.
It wasn’t two minutes before the late bell before Frank had confronted me. He didn’t seem happy about what I had to say,
“You want to fight, alright. I just promised my mom and the principle I wouldn’t fight,”
“So you’re backing out! Chicken. I’m going to pound you anyway at recess.”
“No, I just promised I wouldn’t fight ‘on school property’.” I told him with a smile.
“After school’s just fine with me. That way, I won’t get suspended again. I’ll be glad to pound on you then. I’ll be waiting out front.” Frank said as a crowd had gathered around our conversation.
“I have a better place,” I said about the time the first ‘late bell’ rang.
“What? Okay, we’ll talk about this at recess. Meet me out at the swing set.” Frank browbeat me before allowing me to enter my classroom.
Even though I was in one class and Frank was in another, his cronies sign language foretold of my pending doom. Mrs. Rodgers, my teacher, who seemed as old as dirt, couldn’t even conceive something like this going on behind her back.
The lunch bell rang as I had made copies of the place where he could meet me. Tucking the papers into my back pocket, I headed for the lunchroom. Vince, who had ate before us, waited for me before going out to his own recess. He asked me for a copy of the meeting point. Smiling, he left to go out and confront Markey. Taking my tray, to my table, I dropped off a copy to Laurie. As I left, I watched Lucinda get up and approach her.
I sat down, a cold shiver ran down my back, as the kid’s around me slid away. It was Frank, directly behind me. I pulled one of the last two copies of our ‘meeting spot’ for this. I held it up, not even looking back at him.
“Um, you got some big ones, putz! But, if I show up here,” He said snapping the paper, “and there are any adult’s… I’ll hunt you down and turn you into a girl!”
“There won’t be, unless you bring them.” I said, trying to ignoring his intimidations.
“We’ll talk more out at the swing set,” He said, leaving the table.
The whole lunchroom was a buzz with what was taking place. Lucinda’s table was frowning at my sisters table. Frank’s table was starting conversations over the paper he had taken from me. With my nerves on edge, I tried to stay as cool as a cucumber till the bell for recess rang. Then my stomach suddenly knotted up.
As I headed outside, I saw Vince give me a thumb’s up, as he re-entered the school building. I walked slowly out to the swing set as Laurie somehow had come to walk step to step with me.
“Willie, the words flying all over school.” Laurie said, scared silly.
“Yep, I’m going to talk to Frank about it right now... Oh, and I’m asking Miss Riccio for three early passes, one for each of us,” I told her.
“What, we’re going to run for home?” She asked, thinking I was backing out.
“No. I’m just asking for thirty minutes, to get things ready at the forts. You know, to build clay bombs, build traps, things like that,”
“OH! And you think she’s just going to give them to you?” She asked, nervously.
“I’m positive she will. Just get ready to be called to the nurse’s office. I’ve already told Vince,” I said as she noticed Frank twenty yards ahead.
“Okay, good luck. I’ve got to face Lucinda,” She said, peeling off to head for the ball court.
“It’s okay, we’re ready for this,” I said to her, as she left to go face Lucinda on her own terms.
I walked straight up to Frank. As a bully, he fit the description. He’d probably failed at least two grades, and his size showed it. He was about the largest fifth grader in the whole school. Some rumors suggested that he’d been in a reform school before this.
I was never afraid of him, or his buddies. I think that’s half the reason he chose to pick on me. This fact, had given me my first ‘black-eye’.
“Now then, punk! I’ve studied your little map. It’s about six block’s down that road.”
He said, pointing.
“Yeah, it’s on the other side of the highway. Can’t you cross the highway?” I said, making him ball up his fists. I knew I’d crossed the line, but like I said before, I wasn’t afraid of him.
“Oh, I’ll be there... You can bet on it.” Frank said, landing a hard fist deep into my stomach.
I doubled over, refusing to go down. Trying to catch my breath, as the knot in my stomach finally began to withdrawal. Frank and ‘friends’ walked over to the see-saws as those playing on them seen the trouble coming and walked away, they knew better. As I looked for Laurie, she already talked with Lucinda. At least she was still standing. Catching each other’s eye, we met in the middle of the playground,
“Well, it’s definitely on now! Lucinda asked if she could bring her friends... to watch. And I told her, that ‘she’d better’, probably going to need there help before it’s over.” Laurie said.
“Oh great. Lucinda had five or six. I know Frank’s got five or six.. Markey probably is going to bring at least five. Eighteen against three, not good odds.” I said, suddenly Laurie saw what I meant.
“Hey, at least we’ll have the home advantage,” Laurie tried to look on the positive side.
It was at that moment that we both spotted something across the playground. Frank and Lucinda where each holding a copy of my directions and they were talking, and agreeing with each other like, friends! They were teaming up!
“Oh poop, Willie... What did you get me in too? They ‘know’ each other!” Laurie said.
“I see... Just follow the plan, okay?” I said.
“Are you sure about this?” She asked.
“No, but it’s the only plan we got. Think about hard about ‘Burly holes’...” I said,
“Burly holes? Oh, we’re so dead.” Laurie stated, walking back to the school.
“I hope not,” I said, as she walked out of ear shot!
The day turned out as well as I expected, and I somehow ‘knew’ I’d get punched at least once. Telling a lunch teacher my stomach ‘hurt’ (Which wasn’t a lie,) she’d sent me to see the nurse. As I walked to Miss Riccio’s office, I realized this had better work.
Miss Riccio, the school nurse, had taken a liking to me. There was a mini chess set on her desk and she asked that first day if I knew how to play. We played a game while waiting for mom to pick me up after Frank had bloodied my nose. We began to have lengthy talks about Frank and his many ‘problems’.
She openly admitted she had treated about nine or ten of his victims, and told me some ‘secret’s’ about him. She thought it would ‘help me’ to side track him. Somehow, it just allowed him to target me all the more quicker.
I entered the nurses station, Mrs. Riccio smiled at me,
“Hi William?” She stated.
“I need three early passes... to leave the school grounds.”
“Why?” She asked, not saying no just yet,
“Frank, Lucinda and Markey...” I stated.
“Oh, THIS again. I could have the principle step in,”
“No, it’s gone way past that! I’ve decided to face him. I just don’t want to be suspended over it, so I’m going to do it ‘off school property’. After the last bell rings and school let’s out... That why I need the early passes.” I told her.
“You’re taking a stand? Where’s this going to take place?” She asked.
“Take a guess,” I said pulling out the last map.
“The hills? You’re going to your fort?” She asked, pulling out the pad of papers.
“It’s ‘us’ against ‘them’. My brother, Vince. My sister Laurie and I invited them to a war! We’re done bleeding all over this school,” I told her.
“Laurie, she’s is in Miss Clark’s class?” She questioned.
“Yes. Vince is in Miss Robertson’s…” I said, as she wrote them out one by one.
“You sure you know what your doing?” She asked, treating me like a grown up.
“Yeah. I’m ‘pretty sure’... Just before school, were going there.” I told her, showing the map I’d made. “You’ve seen the Hill’s and what we have set-up there… Look, you know that we’ve only made enemies here… it’s got to stop.”
“I should tell the principle,” Mrs. Riccio stated.
“That would be like signing all our death warrants… No. We have to do it this way.” I said, looking her square in the eye. Giving me a look, she began to write out the ‘early dismissal’ slips and handed them to me.
“Hand these to each of the teachers... then come back here,” She smiled.
I took the slip’s to each of our teachers, and handing Mrs. Rodgers mine, she said in front of the class that an ‘eye test’ might help my grades. The class giggled. Dismissing me, as the end of recess bell rang, I gathered my thing’s and head out. I waited for Frank before heading back to Miss Riccio.
Frank seen my ‘early dismissal’ slip and tried to say I was trying to get out of the fight. I told him I wasn’t, and just to meet him at the spot on the map at 4:00 o’clock.
At first, I though he was going punch me and was surprised when he didn’t. He just growled, ‘I’d better be there’, as he wanted this chance to freely pound on me.
As I sat in the nurses office, awaiting my brother and sister, I went over all the inventory at ‘the hill’. Though we had set ‘each’ of the four forts equally. Mine and Laurie’s fort was the best equipped. The ‘walky-talkies’ were in plastic, covered well in a dug out spot in our fort’s.
Vince was the first to appear at the nurses door, he looked confused when he seen me. Miss Riccio never said a word he came over and sat down beside me. He seemed afraid to speak,
“She knows everything,” I said openly, which seemed to frighten him even more.
“Mom coming to pick us up?” He almost whispered.
“No, We’re going to the fort early... too set-up for this WAR,”
“We’re still going to do ‘it’?” He asked, giving the nurse a nervous glance.
“Yes. Just waiting for Laurie...” I told him.
“Markey going to be there,” He said, not knowing if he should tell me in front of the nurse.
“Good. You’re tired of getting your butt kicked?” I asked him as Laurie opened the door, with the same look of concern on her face.
“What happened,” Laurie asked me.
“We’re getting the fort’s ready, a little early… Miss Riccio giving us ‘early passes’ so we can do this. I’m tried of threats from Frank. Laurie, I’m sure Lucinda’s not to come alone either… And Vince...”
“Yeah... I’m tired of Markey too.” Vince said, realizing Miss Riccio was listening to his words, But unlike most ‘adult’s’ she let us talk, still not butting in.
“Yeah, I think we really need to do this. Remember, ‘we’ know those hill’s. We know where to hide. Where the clay bomb’s are hidden. I say, let’s at least give them what they all seem to want. We’ve got the perfect place to end this,” I told them both.
“What about Miss Riccio?”
“I’ve been to ‘The hill’s’. William gave me a map awhile back. I got a good look around this past ‘Saturday’. If you guys need a war zone, I think you built one.” Miss Riccio stated out of the blue. Laurie and Vince just stared at her.
“Miss Riccio and me has been friends since the first day we got here. She hasn’t ever squealed.
“Frank has seriously hurt two students, somebody need’s to put him in his place.”
“She has watched everything that’s happened to us.”
“She’s not going to tell?” Vince spoke up.
“You guy’s realize my boyfriend is a paramedic? He drives one of the two ambulances in our small town. He’ll be at the ‘gas station’ if ANY of you get seriously hurt.” Miss Riccio stated to my brother and sister.
“Your going to help us?” Laurie said, shocked ‘mother’ wasn’t walking through the door.
“All’s I know is, I would do this… if I were in your shoes, but that’s just my opinion.” Miss Riccio stated.
They both looked at me as I smiled at them back. It gave them the courage to believe ‘they too’ could stand up for themselves, and we had each other.
“Okay... those passes will clear you. You guy’s got about two hours to get ready.” Miss Riccio stated.
“Okay. Anyone want to back out, now’s the time?” I asked each of them.
Vince wasn’t. He was ready to head for the door. Laurie, her hair half way down her back, began tying it up with rubber bands.
“Oh. I’m in,” Laurie stated, quickly adding another one.
“Then, let’s go...” I said heading for the door.
Like free birds, we walked out the front door. This had been the first time things felt ‘right’. We all walked out bold and with our chest’s puffed up. Yet, outside the sight of the school, we all broke into a trot. We weren’t heading ‘home’. We were heading straight to ‘the hills’! Laurie herself, started talking about adding ‘secret compartment’s within the thirty plus piles of ‘clay dirt’. It was like a maze, and ‘We’ knew every one of them, our domain, we’d built it!
“I’ve got to take the rubber band gun’s out of their reach,” Vince stated.
“Why afraid of Markey snapping you with a rubber band?” I stated.
“Yeah, Right!” Vince said,
“Burnt!” Laurie stated to Vince.
We were all huffing as we finally approached the set of hill’s. Laurie cut off ‘knowing’ exactly what she had to do. Vince wanted to check the Walky-talkies. I though I was the only one that wanted an ‘even’ field. Come to find out ‘Laurie was of the same mind.
“I set the field evenly. The only advantage I see we have is, ‘we’re family’.” Laurie came into my fort stating.
“Good,” I said.
“Where’s the advantage there?” Vince pointed out.
“Maybe we should keep all the weapons to ourselves?” I asked him.
“Now your thinking!” Vince said, pointing out ‘his’ point of view.
“That would not be fair, they’re going need something to throw at us. Unless you want to get beat with any ‘boards’ they find.” I told him.
“Clay bomb’s sound better,” Laurie agreed with me.
“It least we have a chance to duck those!” I said, as we crossed the three lane highway at the light.
“So how are we going to do this? We know there coming. But ‘who’ gets what?” Laurie asked.
“I think ‘we’ get one. Frank and his crew get the second. Lucinda and her crew get the third.” I stated, as Vince broke in,
“And ‘Markey’ and his thug’s get the last one.”
Finally at the hills, it didn’t take much to choose ‘who got what’ as we filled each of the forts with the bare requirements. Laurie had to make up two hundred clay bombs, down to the last minute as me and Vince hauled scrap ply wood pieces for shields.
Vince had made twenty rubber band guns, putting five ‘rubber band’ guns in each fort with a small box of the oversized rubber bands for ammo.
Within the hill’s of clay dirt hill’s I dug out small alcoves, hiding spot’s for extra dirt bombs, putting five to ten in each. I tried to make it even for everybody,
Then I saw them.
“Their here,” I said. As I looked, they had ‘all’ came. Turning to look behind us, out of the corner of my eye I spotted something else, Miss’s Riccio! She was carrying... a big wicker basket! I ran to her before the other’s coming would spot her.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Thought I’d bring a few refreshments, soda and some sandwiches… Good luck.” She said handing me the basket.
“Their here, go!” I said, turning and running it back to our fort. She ‘snuck’ back out of the war zone, having never been spotted.
In about two minutes, about twenty people were going to be in the middle of a war. It was up to me to set this up, Laurie and Vince split up the case of soda’s and sandwiches, I told them to set six or seven of each into the other fort’s. While I welcomed our foes,
I ran to the closest hill and climbed on top, Laurie and Vince hid about ten hill’s back, a surplus of clay bombs ready to lob at the first sign of trouble.
“FRANK! LUCINDA! MARKEY! We’re right here,” I called over to the whole crowd.
They walked, as a group to the foot of the hill as Frank spoke up.
“Ready to be beaten to a pulp?” Frank asked me, as everybody snickered.
“Lucinda! Laurie’s here too,” I said, as she was looking around at all the hill’s behind me, trying to spot Laurie.
“Where? She’s mine.”
“Oh... And Markey, ‘Vince’ is also here,” I informed him.
“I’m going to kick his butt, send him out!
“I see you three bought your friend’s?” I said, being way to bold.
“Just here to watch us slice and dice,” Frank insisted.
“Okay, if you say so...this is how it’s going to go down. See those ‘white flags’? I asked, pointing them out.
“Yeah?” Frank said, just wanting to fight.
“Each of you three has a fort, for you and your friends. Frank. That one’s yours.” I pointed to each, “Lucinda... That one over there.. Is yours. And Markey, That one over there is yours.” I told them all. Frank almost wanted to climb up the hill after me.
“I wouldn’t do that,” I told him as he stopped.
“Why not?” He asked, holding on the first step up.
“Where’s my brother and sister?” I asked.
“I don’t care about them,” Frank said, again, he continued to advance up the hill.
“I would… You’re right in their sights,” I stated.
“So, I ain’t afraid.” He stated, was almost five foot from the top.
“Okay. Anyway... In your forts, you’ll find weapons.” I told them all.
“What weapons?” One of Lucinda’s friends asked.
“Can’t have a war without weapons. There are clay bombs and Rubber band guns.” I said, picking both up from the ground, right in front of me.
“Oh, you want a War… works for me!” Frank said, almost to the top.
“One more step, and the war begins,” I said, as he wasn’t stopping. I dipped down the other side of the hill. The sight of Frank’s angry face gave me a perfect target. I ‘whipped’ the clay bomb, striking him dead in his face. It almost knocked him straight out, sent him falling back down the other side. Even if I got ‘killed’ today, that shot was worth it all. Climbing back to the top, they all acted shocked that I had actually done that.
“War has begun!” I stated to them as clay bombs hailed from two different locations. Laurie was aiming for Lucinda and Vince was targeting Markey. Frank got up realizing that the clay bombs were raining down at all of them.
Everybody scattered, as Vince and Laurie stopped throwing. I ran back though the Valleys to our fort, Vince and Laurie were soon to following me in.
“It’s on... You guys ready?” I asked slightly out of breath.
“I’m going up.” Vince said, heading to the crow’s nest.
“Tell me what you see,” Laurie said to him, automatically making clay bomb’s as fast as she could.
“Okay… Markey’s group is heading to there fort. Ha, Frank’s still shaking off that last shot. His buddies are holding him up! You nailed him… hard!” Vince yelled down to us.
“Where’s Lucinda?” Laurie asked.
“She’s… Her and two of her friends are almost at their fort.” Vince sited. “Frank’s on the move... He’s heading straight for us, and he looks even madder, if that’s possible.”
“Where’s Markey?” I asked collecting up as many clay bombs s I could carry.
“Uh, everybody’s in their fort, except Frank and his crew. There making a bee line for us...Vince said.
“Laurie, take Vince’s place. Vince grabbed a couple of clay bombs, we’ll meet them half way,” I said, almost knowing where he would be within the maze of hills.
We headed out as I told Vince what I wanted ‘him’ to do. He listened, and looking at Laurie, who was pointing out where they were, Vince split off, dipping around a hill and out of sight. I had a handful of clay bomb’s as I jumped up onto the top of a hill.
“You guy’s ‘might’ want to get armed first,” I said as they spotted me less than a hill away. I had hit Frank hard. Half of his face was bruised. He was demon angry now. I readied another clay bomb. Vince suddenly popped up behind his two buddies Zip gun’s ready, as I watched him sneak up on them.
“I’m going to rip your arms off!” Frank growled, climbing the hill towards me.
“You’ve met my brother?” I said pointing behind the other two of Franks cohorts.
It was ‘perfect’ timing, they’d turned to look. Vince let fly with both rubber band guns. Oh, he was good… He was less then three foot away, aiming straight at there faces. The heavy rubber met the mark! One got it straight in the mouth, the other, in the eye. Then, like a ghost, he flew around the hill, disappearing.
Frank, seeing my brother take on his two friends, turned back at me. I had to say it,
“I would have got some weapon’s first.” I snickered at him. It made him even angrier as he tore up the hill after me. Vince was right in front of me, as I jumped down beside him, giving him two clay bombs.
As Frank’s face came up over the top, we let loose. Both of our shot’s connected! Vince’s broke up in his open mouth mine hit him in the knee. In a twisted roll, again, he fell off the hill down the far side. In a dart away, I swore I heard one of his friends crying.
We flew back to the fort, as Laurie pointed out that Markey’s group was starting to enter the hill’s and they were armed. Lucinda group hasn’t moved out of there fort, yet.
I grabbed up another handful of clay bombs, as did Vince. I handed him a Walky-talky, taking one myself one. One the way out, Laurie stated that Frank’s group was making there way to ‘their’ fort. We had to worry about Markey’s group now.
“Okay, cross-fire! You that side, I’ll take this side. ON go.” I told him.
We broke away from each other and found hill’s that would keep us hid until we could bush-whack them. Laurie said ‘go’ and we scrambled to the top of the hill.
We caught them all off guard. They were like sitting ducks! In a constant bombardment of clay balls, they scattered in all directions trying to throw clay ball’s at us. A clay bomb in each hand, we carefully stalked them among the hills.
Laurie warned us if they had spotted us and suddenly they realized we had been using our crows nest to over-see the battle grounds. One of them headed back to their fort, and soon was shouting where we were among them,
Lucinda was ‘sneaky’, taking there time to eat and drink what we’d left for each of them, they had watched everything from their own crows nest…
Lucinda’s group had picked a back route to our fort, outside of the hill’s. Laurie was alone when they attacked. Laurie had built a few extra defenses, she set up a spill bucket, if they tried to enter through the back way. Then dug a deep hole, placing ‘burleys’ in it and covered it with cardboard and dirt. In the sneak attack, she took a clod of clay in the arm, as she dumped the spill bucket, it splattered all down the front of one of the attacking girls new shirt! Backing away from the girl, Lucinda stepped into the burly pit, all the way up to her crotch. Lucinda began screaming as Laurie was whipping down clay bomb after clay bomb at them,
“Willie. Lucinda team’s at our fort!” She screamed as we ran straight back. We got there in time to catch the three girl’s limping out of the area. Laurie had them on the run.
“You alright?” I asked her, as she came down from the crows nest.
“Took a shot in the arm. I’ll be alright, Lucinda fell into one of my traps!” Laurie said, a large smile coming over her face.
Vince took the crows nest, as thing’s seem to clam down, then in a surprise turn, a white flag rose over by Frank’s fort.
“I think there surrendering,” Vince yelled down.
“What? Who?” I asked.
“I think it’s Frank’s team… I think they want to surrender!” Vince said.
I got scared, I would never expect Frank to give up, it had to be a trap!
“Vince. Laurie. Grab a few clay bombs each, let’s go see what he’s trying to pull.” I said.
“You think their going to give up?” Laurie asked.
“I doubt it,” I said, sure this was a trick.
We made our way over to them. Popping up on the top of a hill, I was aiming at the two of them,
“Hold your fire… We surrender!” Frank’s team mate said, the other held a soft drink to his eye with the other hand raised.
“Frank’s hurt bad... we’re going home.” He told me, pointing to Frank heading away from the hill’s,
“You had enough?” I asked.
“We surrender, you win,” He said. The one boy that had the ‘soft drink’ held over his eye, pulled it away for a second, it showed his eye ‘blood red’ and almost swollen shut.
“Ben here need’s to go home too…” He pointed to the guy with the red eye.
It seemed weird, coming up behind us, Laurie noticed a small white flag rise up over by Lucinda’s fort,
“Is that what I think it is?” Laurie pointed.
“I think they’re giving up too,” Vince said, shocked.
“Your kidding,” I said, as Frank’s team walked away.
We walked over to Lucinda’s fort. It was true, they were giving up! Lucinda hobbled as she walked. Her leg was bleeding through her pant’s. Laurie asked,
“Now, you going to leave me alone?” Laurie asked a clay ball ready to fire.
“My leg, you win...” Lucinda said in real pain.
“You won’t pick on me any more?” Laurie asked her.
“As long as I don’t ‘ever’ have to come back here,” She admitted. The girl beside her was covered in a red clay liquid.
“This is weird.” Vince said, under his breath.
“Now, all’s we have left is Markey,” I said, noticing that he and his cohort’s had slid up behind us and had taken aim on Vince.
“Oh crap…” Laurie said, realizing they were about to start throwing.
In a brave move, Lucinda stepped in between Vince and Markey’s clan.
“We called ‘a truce’. Throw one of those clay balls and I’ll make your life hell at school,” Lucinda said at Markey with such anger and pain, it frightened even me. Unmoving, they thought twice about firing.
“This ain’t over,” Markey told Vince directly.
“Come back, any time... Remember, ‘this’ is where we fight.” Vince said, not moving himself.
“Let’s go, we’re done here.” Markey said to his two friends.
Within second’s they backed down and disappeared back into the hill’s. Everyone going to pick up there book bags, it was over! Somehow... WE had won! Lucinda and her crew began walking home, with there school back pack’s in tow. I was stunned! Laurie was smiling so loudly she didn’t seem like my sister... Vince too was smiling, happy with himself… We could go home! We’d won. We brought the war, and kicked butt!
Walking out of the Hill’s, I spotted Miss Riccio at the gas station. She was smiling, as I handed her basket back to her,
“That was over quick,” She said. As Vince and Laurie were shocked to see her.
“So that’s where those sodas came from,” Laurie said.
“Anyone hurt?” Miss Riccio asked.
“Laurie got hit in the arm,” I told her, as Laurie offered up her bruised arm. She asked a few questions, checking the area. Laurie would be fine,
As we walked up to the house. We all got slightly scared when Mrs. Ricco pulled into our driveway, Laurie suddenly recognized the basket.
“Willie... That’s mom’s basket,” She stated, grabbing my arm. Miss Riccio was heading up the step’s to the front door. Then, we saw mom at the doorway. We were dead!
Somehow, Miss’s Riccio ‘smile’ softened mom’s face, as she handed her the basket. Had Miss Riccio sold us out?
“Get in the house and start on your homework.” Mom told all of us, as her and Miss Riccio sat on the front porch and began talking.
“We’re dead!” Vince said, wanting to ‘run away’.
“I’m not so sure about that,” Laurie said.
“Hun?” Vince said.
“If she was ‘angry’, she would of clipped us, coming in...” Laurie noted.
Thinking about it, she was right! Mom wasn’t in an angry mood. Concerned, I couldn’t tell. We sat at the dining room, quietly talked among ourselves. Sliding away from the table, Laurie was trying to listen to the conversation between them. She came back to the table.
“They knew about this! Her and Miss’s Riccio are talking about the whole thing!” Laurie stated straight to me. Miss Riccio had sold me out, from the go.
“Oh man!” I said, burying my head under my arms.
“‘…any punishment’ is worth what we did today,” Vince smiled at the both of us.
“We did ‘kick butt’,” Laurie said, the smile returned to her face. Then we froze,
“Willie! Laurie! Vincent!” Mom’s voice rang out. It was time to face the music,
We slowly walked out the front door, onto the front porch. From the look on Miss’s Riccio’s face, we must have looked pathetic!
“You three ‘know’ I don’t approve of fighting... But, I guess this was coming,” She began, “Laurie? Is your arm alright?” Laurie showed off her war wound to mom. Funny, she was proud of it!
“don’t hurt as much as Lucinda’s leg,” Laurie said with a smile, remembering how the girl limped away from the hill. Those ‘burleys’ were nasty things.
I don’t remember much of the rest of our lecture, but I remember falling asleep and waking ‘refreshed’, as mom’s voice rang the morning alarm. At the breakfast table, I realized that ‘we actually did it’. We all smiled at the table, this was the best feeling in the whole world!
Looking at Vince and Laurie. They had the same feeling, as there smile’s showed how eager they were to go to school. It would be the first day we wouldn’t feel fear walking into the school. We ‘vowed’ we’d never show fear again. If ‘anyone’ tried to bully us, we had the hill’s.
Everybody at the school knew it. It had gone through the school like wild fire. They saw what had happened to Frank and Lucinda. Over time, ‘The hill’s’ had became a game and every weekend, those we brought here, were here to play!
Laurie became ‘the nurse’. Vince enforced the rules, banning anyone that wouldn’t follow the rules of fair play. Markey became a referee as well. Now, they we’re both enforcer’s and friends. Missing two teeth, Frank quickly moved away. No one knew why…
By William F. Polden Sr.
This year was a new town, a new school and new friends for all three of us. Mom had even before the move began, prompted us on how to treat all the new people we’d be meeting and how to become friends with them. I was the oldest at 10 and my sister Laurie she was 8 and our smaller brother Vince, 7.