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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

 Big Bang Theories

I've heard that for the right price, you can get insurance against just about any catatsrophe. If so, I'd like to take out a policy on my brother for anything involving fireworks.

Akin to the warnings young Ralphie heard in "A Christmas Story" about putting an eye out with a BB gun, my brother has no doubt heard the admonitions about being careful around fireworks an immeasurable amount of times.

Whatever the actuarial tables say, my brother is, I believe, statistically more likely to suffer some sort of trauma or personal injury when even the most basic fireworks item meets flame in his vicinity.

Sparkler burn? Pretty sure he's sufferered several since we were kids.

Hearing loss? How can there NOT be some, given the number of times he's had firecrackers go off near his ear.

Mangled hand? Indeed. And multiple times, with at least one ER visit after a particularly brutal explosion during one Fourth of July weekend.

And yet, from youth through adulthood, my brother has willingly, brazenly, wantonly taken flame to wick and tempted fate.

I knew plenty of kids who engaged in such reckless behavior when we were young. In fact, in the old neighborhood, it was weeklong ritual to scour the streets in the days preceding and following the big July 4 holiday to spot any firecrackers still unexplored from the pack.

It should seem obvious, but the unexploded firecracker is a firecracker with considerably more likelihood of exploding in close proximity. Dud from pack equals shorter fuse equals up-close BLAM.

If it were a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, it'd be comical. With my brother, it's tragedy with willful disregard of past experience. At least the Coyote could blame the Road Runner.

Fortunately, I haven't been around for most of my brother's blow-ups, blow-outs and blown expectations. I've only seen the stunned expression on his face after a premature proximate POW once or twice. My mom, however, has made the ER runs and done the follow-up care for his explosive mishaps.

If you're in proximity, run.

Aloh...mmm

Bloody Mary