As I lay in bed last night attempting slumber, the sound of incendiary sorties shook my walls and led me to take cover as I imagined an errant rocket fired from a moron neighbor’s yard would soon crash through my window. Ah…tradition! Celebrating our nation’s day of independence by igniting expensive explosives made by Chinese children. Let freedom boom!
Organized fireworks display? Love ‘em. Drunk neighbors challenging my otherwise long fuse? Not so much. It all reminds me of sweet revenge on just such a jerk I encountered as a kid back in Queens, New York.
We lived in a huge garden apartment complex called Glen Oaks Village. It still exists, although it converted to condos many years ago. One of the distinctive features of Glen Oaks Village is the number what they call “courts,” where a grouping of apartments surround an open space. Some are small, but the one next to our apartment, just outside a court, was huge–the largest in the massive complex. Running along the rear of the court was a line of apartments in a long row.
On that particular July 4 in 1966 or 67, a guy named Spencer, who lived in of one of those apartments decided he was going to blow up stuff all night, much to the annoyance of every other neighbor. We had a history with Spencer. He was a 30-ish guy who prematurely lost his hair and, apparently, his mind, as he would chase us with his car when we attempted to play football on the court’s wide lawn. We didn’t like him. It’s not good for a guy if teenager don’t like you.
Our little gang of pimply 15-year olds marched up to Spencer as he was about to light another fuse and told him he was an asshole and was annoying everyone. He laughed and challenged us to call the cops. OK. So we left, didn’t do anything, but came back a few minutes later and told him we did call the friendly NYPD and they’d be along shortly.
Spencer wasn’t a bright man and bought our ruse. He quickly stashed what was left of his cache of fireworks under the shrubs in front of his door and ran inside his house, but not before shouting at us, “they’ll never find anything! You kids are gonna get in trouble for filing a false report!”
Once we determined Spencer was holed up for the night, we snuck up and stole his stuff from under the shrubs and hid it. The next morning, when Spencer thought the coast was clear, he planned to reclaim his stash from the bushes but, whoa! It was gone! Damn cops must have found, and confiscated it. Spencer was sad. Since, as I mentioned, he was an idiot, he never suspected us. But we weren’t done with Spencer since we had a more demonstrative revenge in mind.
Late that night, we returned with all his fireworks and waited until we were sure Spencer had turned in. We lit ‘em all up, took off like the bandits we were and got about 50 yards when the whole damn motherlode blew up right in front of Spencer’s door. We laughed our asses off when he ran out in his little PJ’s looking very distraught and confused. While laughing our mischievous asses off we yelled from our hiding spot, “guess you found them, asshole!”
Spencer never bothered us again, and in fact, it wasn’t long before he moved..and sadly, left us no forwarding address. We were looking forward to Halloween.