I was nine or ten years old and short for my age. Trent was probably a year older than I, and taller and bigger. He lived next door, across the alley from us, in Blaine, Washington, where Dad was the minister of the Methodist church. Trent wasn't his real name, but I can't remember his real name, so I'll call him Trent. He was my friend.
I remember only three events with Trent, and all of them took place at his place. I don't think he ever came over to mine. Two of the events took place in his kitchen when his folks weren't home. I don't remember ever seeing his folks. One was when he sat chewing something. I asked him what he was eating, and he said, "A scab." That was one of the grossest things in memory.
Another time, I opened and peered into his refrigerator and saw a pickle lying there. "Hey, can I have this pickle?" I asked, hoping, and Trent generously said I could. So I popped it into my mouth and began chewing. It wasn't a pickle. It was a jalapeño pepper—the first one I ever ate. I cried. Trent laughed.
But the third event, the one this story is about, took place in Trent's front yard. We were both sitting on a grassy slope by some steps, talking about things, including the Army. My brother Paul was in the Army, and I idolized my big brother. While Trent and I talked, he made the motion of pulling the pin of a hand grenade out with his teeth and throwing it. I said, "My brother says you can't do that. It'd bust your teeth; you gotta use your finger." Trent gave me a frown and casually said, "Your brother's a fart."
Suddenly, even before I knew it, I was all over Trent, pounding on him with my fists. He was so big that my pummeling was little more than an annoyance, and he stood up, picked me up and threw me down, and strode into his house.
I was furious. Stomping home, I stopped beside his house along the way and began throwing rocks at it, careful to miss the windows but making a racket. It turns out that his mom was home, and she called my folks, and here marched Dad, also furious, at me, as I threw rocks at the neighbors' house. "What are you doing!" he shouted.
"He called Paul an f-a-r-t," I said angrily, not daring to say the word to my minister father who would never allow me to say "gosh" or "darn" or even "shut up."
Dad had spanked me for putting sand in a girl's hair, and for pushing Danny into a drainage ditch, but he just stood there and ordered me to go to my room. Once there, I expected him to come spank me, but he didn't. I heard him talking quietly to Mom in the dining room, and cracked the door of my room open enough to hear him say, "He even spelled it."
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