There was a family during my childhood that my parents would periodically get together with. They had two boys about the same ages as my brother and I, Delaney being the older one, Aaron the younger. I remember it being a healthy drive to their place–between an hour to two hours worth–so that’s probably why I only remember being at their place a handful of times at most. They more or less lived in the country on a large piece of property that sat on the corner of two converging roads. They had a huge barn on this property with all kinds of yard around it for us kids to play on.
I would definitely say that Delaney influenced me more than I influenced him. As an example, when we eight years old or so, we had just finished playing in the sprinkler outside. Delaney got an idea and talked me into going along with it. So he’s the reason that he and I streaked naked across the backyard of their house in full view of the adults inside because, according to Delaney at the interrogation afterwards, “we had to hang our bathing suits outside to dry”. That influence would also affect our younger brothers (mostly his).
As I was saying, they had an absolutely huge barn. It had a massively thick rope tied from the topmost rafter, which towered above our little heads, and it hung with a big knot on the other end just above the barn floor. But were we satisfied with just being able to swing around on the barn floor on that rope? Nope. Besides, there was old farm equipment scattered hither and yon (with straw all over the floor to help camouflage anything else that might be hiding there), so we escalated the excitement and climbed to the loft that was ten feet above the floor so that we could swing above all that meandering mass of rusted metal. Great idea until you’re the next one to swing out over that huge expanse of space with all the old farm equipment lying below like a pool of crocodiles with gaping jaws just waiting to seize an unwary and careless eight-year-old kid. It was even worse when I found myself swinging back to the loft and Delaney decided to push me back out just before I let go of the rope. He only did that to me once or twice before I put a stop to it (the pull of one older brother to another).
So when the younger brothers would do it, Delaney would attempt the same thing with them. (Even though older brothers like to torment their younger ones, I knew even at that age that what he was doing to my younger brother wasn’t smart at all on his part–even jumping well passed the line into “stupid”–so I remember eventually telling him to stop doing that to my brother as well. Aaron, however, was fair game.) We’d watch Delaney push Aaron back out over the crocodiles and listen to him yell and scream at Delaney while his legs flailed around, trying to get another grip on the rope, all the while unleashing unveiled threats of how horrible life was going to be for Delaney after their mother found out about what he was doing. It always seemed like no matter how convinced Aaron was that he wouldn’t be swinging on the rope, Delaney would find a way to persuade him to do it “just once”. That never seemed to work in Aaron’s favor.
Next time I’ll tell you about the bridge and the insects…..