birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Free Reign. Big Trouble

My brother Randy and I chased each other a lot when we were kids. We had a house that enabled us to run circles around the downstairs – through the kitchen into the living room then the dining room into the kitchen and repeat. One day, Randy was chasing me and my girlfriend Cynthia around the house. We were 9, Randy was 10 or 11. Our mom was as work, a couple of miles away at our small town’s newspaper. Our dad was 30 miles away working in the upper county. Free reign.

After 3 or 4 circuits around the house, I yelled to Cynthia to dodge into my bedroom which was just off the dining room. My plan was to slam the door in Randy’s face, thereby winning the scrimmage. The problem with this plan, which seems so obvious in hindsight, was that my bedroom had a French door. Cynthia made it into the bedroom, I made it in, but as I slammed the door Randy reached for my shirt and his hand went right through a pane of glass.

Let me tell you, nothing momentarily shuts kids up like a broken window and blood. But only momentarily. I don’t remember how we got there, but the next thing I knew we were dialing mom at work and when she answered, Randy and I simultaneously started shouting our version of the story into the phone. Not knowing the seriousness of a piece of glass sticking in an artery, not being blamed was of paramount concern.

I’ve always wondered how that phone call sounded to our poor, unsuspecting mother. A sudden cacophony of “slammed the door,” “chasing us,” “broken glass,” “blood is spurting.” Mom is an only child raised in a quiet home that did not prepare her for raising siblings. But what seemed truly miraculous, was that we were still arguing into the phone when Mom came running into the house. Randy and I were once again struck dumb – looking at the Mom and then the phone and then back at mom.

Randy survived; we were both grounded. He has a small scar on his wrist, ironically a marker of happier, easier times when our mom was always close by, and all we had to worry about was how long it would take for our parents to forget we were grounded.

Dirty Money

Cardboard Sledding