the electric wire

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When I was little and my family was still intact, we lived in what was, to us, the country. That the suburbs were two miles away mattered little to a child. Creeks were raging rivers, cow pastures were vast expanses of wilderness, and yet-to-be-cleared trees were forests.

The aforementioned cow pasture was across the street from my house and, significantly to my young psyche, it was surrounded by an electric wire. Touching it was a rite of passage in my neighborhood, as was peeing on it. (The secret: stand far enough away that the stream breaks up.) For the most part, the wire was a minor obstacle under which we all reflexively ducked on our way to someplace interesting. I must have ducked under it a thousand times, feeling it on my back, scraping harmlessly down my coat. One time when we were all ducking under the wire, I somehow got it inside my lips. Good times. I hear.

One winter, a group of us hid near the road, out of sight, and hurled snowballs at passing cars. It's easier said than done. Cars is fast. The prestige shot was leading the car by so much that your snowball exploded spectacularly on the windshield, which was, to our collective astonishment, a practical use for geometry. Finally.

After several hours of snowballs and "Angle Side Side" jokes, we salivated as a cargo van approached. Low hanging fruit! As it passed, we pummeled its enormous side with snowballs. Before it had even screeched to a halt, the side door exploded open, and a bunch of teenagers armed with baseball bats poured out.

We scattered. Some ran into homes, others into woods. "GET THE SLOW LITTLE ONE!" I heard behind me. Shit. I knew who that was. And thus did my puny legs churn in a panic, keeping me a few seconds ahead of an angry horde of pissed off, bat-wielding teenage villagers.

The wire,
I thought.

I knew if I could make it to the electric wire, I had an advantage. I made a right angle turn and sped right for it. I headed for a path where there were no cautionary signs, and I ducked under the wire at full speed. I kept running, kept listening.

I'm not sure how many of them hit the wire. I just know they harmonized.

Their pursuit stopped immediately, and I've always wished I'd stopped to see what happened. I content myself, though, to know that in the decades since, they've doubtless told an even better story, one that stars a mysterious prepubescent Rambo. Only, you know, little and slow.