Sometimes things happen that really aren’t technically our fault, but could be because we didn’t do anything at all to stop them. Guilt by association. Inaction as an action. It is rather embarrassing sometimes to talk about events that happened when I was a child, the age my children are at now. Events that were stupid and childish looking back in middle age adult eyes.
Today’s story takes place out in a very rural area by Mary’s house. I mentioned Mary previously, she was my friend that had 14 or 15 siblings. I can never remember. Please don’t make me mentally count each one by name. Randy wasn’t an only child either. He had 4 brothers. He shared a father with his oldest brother, each of his younger brothers had a different father. His older brother was along for the ride. Mary’s house was always a zoo, so we decided to take a walk. It was autumn, I remember that because the corn was high and ready for harvesting. Later that evening we were running through the corn fields hiding out. Randy’s brother lifted me up to see if I could see anything over the corn, but it was dusk and the husks were so high I could barely peek over.
The trouble started when we got to the creek. Randy and his brother found a large sheet of plastic lying on the road near the bridge. It was like bubble wrap plastic. They thought it would be a great idea to burn the plastic. I still remember the sizzling and cracking sound of the burning plastic. To make matters more troublesome, Randy and his brother pulled out the signs for the bridge and threw them in the ditch. Around this time, Mary’s dad drove by on the way home from his third job. Mary told the boys that her dad was going to call the police if he saw the fire and suspicious activity. Not long after that we may have even heard sirens. And that is how I ended up over my head in a corn field at dusk.
Mary decided she wanted to call her sister to see if their dad said anything. She babysat for the farmer’s kids down the road and said we should walk there so she could call home. I remember walking into her neighbor’s house at night to use their rotary phone. The TV was on and the farmer snored softly in his chair never waking up. I don’t know where the rest of the family was. It seems surreal that night in a stranger’s house as Mary called home. Mary’s dad didn’t see anything, so we walked back to her house. No one got grounded that night.