When I was a young child–pre-school and early elementary–my three cousins rode the bus to and from my house. The youngest of them was a boy named Joey who was a whole five years older than me. Joey was a mess.
Adam, my little brother, is three years younger than myself. Joey not being a completely awful child, he mostly left my brother alone until he himself was school aged. However, I got to spend a few years as the brunt of his jokes and tricks. I consider it a learning experience–in that I learned after a while that when he told me to sniff his butt because it smelled like cherries, he would certainly fart in my face.
By the time I was in third grade, I no longer fell for anything Joey had to throw my way. My brother, however, was still just a naive little boy.
At the time, there was a large field to the back of my house which ran up against a large, wooded lot. The field did not belong to us, but we took care of it for our elderly neighbors. It was a lot of work to mow, so my parents entrusted my cousin Joey with the work. He would go out once a week, mow the field, and then hitch up the wagon to the back and take my brother and I for rides.
On one particular day he hitched us up and drove around for a few minutes before suddenly stopping. He turned around to look at me.
“Sarah, you see that piece of fence laying over there?” he asked as he pointed to some stray chicken wire laying in the field. “Go get it and put it in the wagon so we can throw it away.”
I knew better. I knew he would take off in high gear the moment I was far enough away to not catch him. I told him as much.
Joey looked past me to Adam. “Adam, you go get it.”
“No, Adam,” I instructed him. “He will just leave you behind.”
All Adam needed to hear was his big sister telling him not to do something. He grinned big, ear-to-ear, and proudly told Joey that he could do it.
Adam hopped on out of the wagon and marched himself towards that chicken wire. Once he was about half-way there, the engine of that lawnmower roared to life and we began to pull away. Adam turned, looking ready for a challenge.
Joey didn’t bother to put the mower in a high gear, both underestimating Adam and looking to be able to tease him by remaining just out of his reach. Adam motored himself quickly towards us, surprising Joey. Before either he or I knew it, Adam was right along side us. Joey tried to go faster, but he had foolishly headed for the one hill in that entire stretch of open land.
I was practically face to face with Adam’s silly grin. He was showing Joey up and he knew it. Suddenly, I saw Adam’s expression change, like a light bulb came on in his head; he had some bright idea about what to do.
That bright idea, it ended up, was to try to launch himself into the wagon. However, Adam was short–too short to clear the edge without actually climbing in. Instead, he hit the edge, bounced forward, right in front of the mowers back wheel.
In that instant, Joey had turned more in Adam’s direction. The result was Joey running Adam over with the lawnmower.
I watched Joey go up and then down as he cruised over my bother. I myself went up and then down as the front wagon wheels passed over him. I flung myself to look over the back, went up and down once more, and then watched as my brother emerged beneath me, pressed face first into the grass.
We continued to pull away from him as he raised his head to scream. Joey kicked it into high gear and headed for the woods. When we reached it, he killed the engine and ran into the woods, leaving me to watch my brother curled up and crying in the distance.