They were big kids. Mean teenaged boys. Two of them. One with sandy brown hair, lanky and tall. The other of gargantuan proportions, dark-haired and beady-eyed. And they had weapons of mass destruction: water pistols. We had no idea where these kids had materialized. One day we felt secure, happy, and dry. The next day we were being chased down and squirted against our will. Grown-ups were no help to us at all. “Save us,” we’d squeal, hiding behind the most rotund adult we could find. Chuckling, the adult would pry us from his body, detaching us as if we were octopuses, tentacle by tentacle. “I don’t want to get wet,” he’d say. Or “It’s a hot day, couldn’t you use the cooling off?” The adults didn’t realize how we were being tormented. How could they? In their squinty, jovial eyes, it was a game of child vs. child. In our wide, paranoid eyes, these boys were out for destruction, taking us down one by one. Children scrambled towards their homes as the boys aimed their water pistols at them. They fled in all directions like baby spiders hatching from a sac. Yes, happy laughter used to echo off brick walls all summer long. And now all that could be heard was the knocking of knees and the sliding of locks set into place behind slammed doors. The apartment complex was a ghost town. My shirt was drenched, but my spirit was alive with the need to wreak revenge. I dashed to my mother, who was at the side of the apartment building, working on her garden and oblivious to the water torture happening mere yards from her plants. “Mom,” I cried, wringing out the bottom half of my T-shirt. It watered her violets, and she nodded with approval. “I need something…a container. Something to put water into.” “For what?” she asked. The boys whizzed by us, squirting a howling six-year-old who ran for his life on sad, stumpy legs. She nodded. “I might have something.” I followed her upstairs and she rifled through a cupboard. She handed me a plastic pitcher. The kind with a big, fat handle, suitable for grasping. She turned on the faucet and waited for the water to become frigid. Then she filled that sucker right up to the top and handed it to me. Because of the sloshing water, it was unwieldy and tough to keep upright. Even while using its big, fat handle, suitable for grasping. But the thought of soaking those two boys helped me keep the pitcher steady. I held it to my chest and bolted downstairs, water spilling down my suntanned legs and into my blue tennis shoes, but not caring because, after all, I was going to get even with those kids. Nobody, but nobody, messed with Kim Gore and her apartment pals. Of course, once I came across the boys I realized I should have concocted a plan. They eyed the pitcher with wary expressions, uncertain smiles plastered on their faces. How in the world was I supposed to get them to come close enough to me in order to soak them silly? My sister and two other kids had come out of hiding. They, too, were curious about the pitcher of water in my arms. I pictured others peering from behind curtains, safely tucked into their rooms, watching what was about to go down from a distance. And then I came up with the most ingenious idea in the history of ingenious ideas. It was so clever I almost didn’t believe it was mine. I looked inside the pitcher and grinned like a fool. Pretended what I saw in there was right up there with one of the Seven Wonders of the World. “What do you have?” One of the teens asked. But he remained far enough where I couldn’t splash him. “I have a turtle,” I said, mentally patting myself on the back. “He’s so neat. Want to look?” The boys glanced at each other. “No,” the dark-haired one said. “I don’t believe you.” Every kid knew the number one rule in properly lying: Act as if you don’t care whether or not someone believes you.
“Oh, whatever.” I said flippantly. “I think he’s cute.” I took a step forward to see how the boys would react. My heart slammed beneath my ribcage. What if they decided to shoot now, ask questions later? What if they knew what I was up to, and overtook me and my pitcher with the big, fat handle, suitable for grasping? The boys took a cautious step back. I decided to call in the troops. “Look at my turtle,” I called over my shoulder to my sister and the two other young curious minds. The three of them walked over, leaned in, and did the appropriate “oohs” and “ahs.” I liked how they played along, even without knowing what I planned to do. “Sure you don’t want to see my turtle?” I asked the boys again. The sandy-haired boy lowered his pistol and took a few steps towards me. I froze, realizing he really didn’t need the water pistol. He could subdue me with one hand. Take my pitcher and turn it on me. I had to act. Immediately. I forgot to use the big, fat handle, suitable for grasping. Panic-stricken, I tossed the pitcher, contents and all, at the kid and ran. But not before I saw the teen menace jump back in an attempt to avoid the unavoidable. Water splashed his entire front, and the pitcher knocked into his chest. He stumbled over his feet and whether he crashed to the grass, I will never know. Because I was long gone. I’d already run into my apartment building, through our apartment door, my sister following close on my heels. I shut the door and locked it up tight. Then hid under my covers, panting and laughing at the same time. I’d done it. I’d felled the evil beast. And it felt good. It felt dang good. I’d had my revenge, and success filled me with warm tingles. We found the pitcher hours later, exactly where the kid had stood during his drenching. But the boys were gone. And know what? None of us ever saw them again. Sometimes it takes an act of bravery to instill fear in the enemy. Sometimes it takes quick thinking of a spontaneous nature. And sometimes…just sometimes…it takes a giant pitcher of water with a big, fat handle, suitable for grasping.