Chapter 3

July 10, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 7/10/09

all rights reserved


Monday July 4, 1966

It may have been a special day in history and a holiday, for most people, but to Ben, it was, ‘Independence Interrruptus.’

It was already summer and that in and of itself was a holiday for Ben. It was not that he minded so much in spending time with the family, but he was growing up and at least inside his own mind, he had already declared his independence.

If this day was a celebration of a rebellion, Ben was on his way to his own rebellion. He was after all, just a new teenager, thirteen years old to be exact. Some may view 13 as an unlucky number, marked with apostasy and rebellion, but there was once just 13 colonies at the start of the Revolutionary War and Ben was born on the 13th. This is all Ben knew about, American History. He was 13 and it sure seemed to be a lucky number to him.

He could patiently wait out time with the family. The food would be good and fireworks later would amuse him, but plans for yet an unknown adventure, were already set for later this night.

But the day’s agenda was set, for him, by his parents. They met at the home of his little-known cousins.  They lived on a farm, but it was technically in city limits. Adjacent to their property was an amusement park.

Everyone showed up around 12:30 in the afternoon and brought food and lawn chairs. The meal started around one o’clock. The food was good, but the conversation was pretty strained because, Ben did not know most of these people very well and could relate barely to  none of them. Most of the kids were younger than him so, there was not much for him to do except, eat, watch people and wait.

He waited for it to get later in the day, when fireworks were shot off. He waited for the amusement park, to shoot off their display after dark. But mostly, he waited, for this day to be over and his later planned activities, to begin.

At first, the older kids shot off their fireworks and that went pretty well. Adults helped the younger ones with their sparklers and little black pellets once lit that turned into coiling ashes that looked liked snakes. There were firecrackers and the occasional loud boom of a cherry bomb or a M80. There were some fountains and roman candles. All seemed to be shot off without a hitch; out of harms way from the rest of the party, until…

Some adult took a miniature missile launcher and was trying to steady it on a rock. The new missile launch site (the rock), was in front of everyone and closer than where the other fireworks were shot off. As the man lit the pack of 20 missiles, it started to fall from the rock. He caught it and quickly tried to balance it back on the top of the rock, before he ran away. Ben was sitting between two people and all three were in lawn chairs. Ben just happened to look up and out of the corner of his eye, as the missiles began to fire. Instead of firing straight up, they blasted off in several directions and one of them was heading straight towards Ben. The others beside him never saw it coming.

As if by instinct, Ben threw open his arms and knocked over the two chairs and those in them, on either side of him. Picking themselves up off the ground they stared at Ben and one even said, “What’s wrong with you, have you lost your mind?”

Ben heard the words, but they seemed to go in one ear and out the other, for he was running now. Call it a fluke or just his dumb luck, but one missile seemed to be honing in on him, as if he were transmitting some radar signal. It zigged and zagged as he did. Ben finally stopped trying to outsmart the missile and quit looking over his shoulder. All he could think of was to try and outrun it.

Suddenly, Ben felt a sharp stinging sensation in the back of his head. He was hit. His hair was on fire as he instinctively tried to pat it out with the back of his right hand. Most of the missile fell to the ground and Ben quickly stamped it out with his foot, not even thinking it could have blown his foot off. But, there was a hole in the back of his head, where his hair used to be, about the size of a silver dollar. The skin there had burned and his head still felt like it was on fire.

Someone threw water on the back of his head. His cousin, whose home they were visiting was, a registered nurse. She quickly ran into the house and returned with some alcohol, triple antibiotic ointment, gauze and surgical tape. As she worked on Ben, she assured his mother that was watching this scene with eyes of horror, that he would be OK. While she continued speaking to Ben’s mom, Ben’s face seemed to contort as the alcohol was poured over the back of his head. At that moment, he was not sure which was worse, his injury or the even more intense, burning sensation, he now felt.

There was no need to go to the hospital. He just needed to keep his head dry and change the bandages and reapply the ointment once a day. “He’ll be fine,” she assured Ben Mom’s. She then handed the extra bandages and the ointment to his mother and handed Ben a couple of aspirins for the pain. She never spoke to Ben.

No one ever said I’m sorry or asked if he was all right. The people he had knocked over never said thank you, for possibly saving them from what he took the blunt of. But Ben certainly seemed to display the characteristics of the kind of person, you want to be around during a crisis.

There was a little crowd standing around him as he was all patched up and sitting back in his chair. Among them was his brother that just started laughing at him. His own farther started to do the same, but covered his mouth with his hand and contained himself. Everyone went back to the party. Ben was now sitting by himself as if he, were some freak. Finally, the aspirins kicked in and he felt somewhat better. There was no way he would miss out on his plans later, even if he was in pain and despite the embarrassment he felt. But he would re-visit this embarrassment, the very next day as news of this event would spread and he would answer his own doorbell and see 5 or six little kids standing on his porch. One kid would have been at the picnic and saw what had just happened to him. This little kid would be the spokesperson for this little group, to stand in front of Ben.

“We’ll give you a quarter if we can see the hole in your head.”

Ben would stare in disbelief, never speak, and since it was there, bend over and pick up the newspaper, then turn away and walk back inside, closing the door behind him.

But this would all happen the next day. Ben was still waiting for the best of the rest of, this day!

It took for forever it seemed, for it to get dark. But right at 9:00 PM, the amusement park began, its fireworks show. The party had a fantastic view and Ben was in the middle of that view. It was a great display and though it only lasted for about 20 minutes, Ben could not wait to leave and those 20 minutes might just have well been hours.

Those twenty minutes could not compare to the nearly two hours later it would take, before Ben could make his escape to freedom.

They arrived back home around 10 o’clock in the evening. It was a work night for Ben’s father, so he would be going to sleep soon, or so Ben hoped. The Silents’ were early risers anyway, whether anyone wanted to get up early or not. When all were at home, the family always ate meals together, unless someone was really very sick or had ‘BEN,’ sent to their room.

Ben believed his brother could sleep around the clock if he could, but he had to get up early the following day, to leave for Boy Scout Camp. His younger sister was placed into her bath and she would soon be fast asleep. Mom was in the kitchen washing dishes and putting things away. His older brother had undressed and was in bed, reading his scout book. Their father was in the living room, watching the news and local weather on television.

“Jeez, will they ever go to sleep,” Ben wondered silently. Eventually, the last bit of water drained from the bathtub and his sister was quiet and sound asleep in her own bedroom. Ben had to share his room with his older brother, in a room that was built as a study off the master bedroom, where his parents slept. Two glass-paneled French doors were all that separated the two rooms. There were no curtains on the doors. The doors were closed at night, but he could see into his parent’s room and they could see into his and his brother’s. It wasn’t so close that you could hear everyone breathing, but everyone in each room could, pretty much hear ever sound between the two.

It was bad enough having to share a bedroom with his older brother, but having such an open view and right next to his parents was worse. The foot of his brother’s bed was just inside one of the French doors and against the outside wall. At least he had a window near his head. Ben had more wall space and the foot of his bed still allowed enough room to open and close the other door. His bed was placed against the side wall and his head against another outside wall.

This little corner world was the only privacy Ben had, but it was his world, complete with pictures and a collage of stuff, all – stapled, push-penned, taped, glued and nailed to the wall, next to his bed.

It was kind of hard to make the bed since it was right next to the wall, but Ben did not mind. At least his parents could not see him, unless they came into the room.

Ben undressed, put on his pajamas, got into bed and stared at the ceiling, for what seemed like forever. He waited and waited.

His brother closed the book he was reading, turned off his lamp and finally fell asleep. He could hear his mother in her room inside the closet on the other side of the wall next to his bed. She was probably getting her nightgown, he thought. After several more endless minutes, Ben could hear footsteps coming from the living room and finally, heard his dad get into bed. Ben waited and he waited and he waited.

Finally, he heard the familiar sound of night at the Silent Home. His dad was now snoring and that was how, he knew his dad was asleep.

His mother could not fall asleep hearing his Dad snore, so Ben knew she had to have already been asleep, before his Dad got into bed. Ben needed to make sure both were in a deep sleep, before he could leave.

Even though there was a separate entrance to this room from the outside, Ben knew from experience that when his brother had tried to sneak out using this door, their mother had always awakened and caught him in the act. Ben also knew that his brother tried to change his escape plan through a basement window and was still, always caught, but for some reason, never when Ben went with him. It was weird and Ben knew the only reason he ever allowed Ben to go with him was, he would probably never get caught. And they never were. This would be Ben’s first adventure on his own, but not without some careful planning, far in advance.

Ben silently rose from bed and slowly turned the door knob; carefully opening the door to his parent’s room and gently closing it behind him. He paused at the side of his parent’s bed, running several answers through his mind, should either or both parents wake up and ask him what he was doing, standing over them in the dark.

His eyes had already adjusted to the darkness of the room. It was a well lit night and there was a street light, beaming through open screened windows. Ben could see both of his parents were asleep and his father was snoring loudly. He pulled the flashlight out of his pocket to light his way through te darkened house.

Ben walked downstairs to the basement and pulled a bag of clothes he had previously stashed overhead, on top of a heating duct of the furnace. He quickly undressed in the dark and dressed from the contents of the bag, stuffing his pajamas and slippers inside and then repositioned the bag above the duct.

Slowly, quietly and carefully, Ben unlatched the basement window, climbed up on a table he had placed there directly underneath and holding the window open with one hand, he crawled out and closed the window behind him. Once outside, Ben waited just a little while, to see if he heard any sound coming from inside of the house or if any lights came on. The coast was clear and Ben was free!

But free for what?


Click here to: Chapter 4


One comment

  1. […] American Eagle Just another WordPress.com weblog « Chapter 1 Chapter 3 » Chapter 2 July 10, 2009 by […]

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