This short story was written for our assignment which asked us to create a story of an event that happened in our home neighborhood. We were to be the main character in this story and therefore I made myself the narrator as well. Much of this story is true, I honestly did not have to embellish or exaggerate too much; it was already a pretty good story on its own. The title is from Jerry Lee Lewis' song and as you will see when you read, it is very fitting. Have fun.
As the sun hid behind the the horizon for the night, there was a hair-raising chill about the air that was rather uncommon for the month of July. It didn’t help that the top floor of the parking garage where we had camped out to watch Red, White, and Boom was acting more as a wind tunnel than a shelter. I wish I had worn something warmer under the jacket that was now placed upon my girlfriend’s shoulders. Her shivers became mine, but I knew that the cold sensation I was feeling was nothing compared to the trouble that would have come from my family had I not shared the jacket. Just in time to distract me from my discomfort, the fireworks began to boom above our heads. This Independence Day, the sky did not wear its traditional explosions of red, white, and blue, but instead I saw Tommy, Tery, and Greg, and I saw Hopewell Court.
Despite Greg’s inability to effectively use words – one of the many burdens placed upon him by his autism- it was simple to see that he was the most eager of everyone in our neighborhood for the firework display that we had all been planning for nearly two months now.
“Aaaayeeeeahhhhhhh” Greg sang and danced as Tommy brought out what seemed to be every roman candle and m80 ever made.
“What do you guys want to start with?” Tommy asked the group.
“We have to start out small and build up to a Grand Finale, you know, like the real shows” I said. I knew it would hardly mimic the grandiose displays we had become accustomed to, but there was an understood protocol to fireworks that we just could not stray from.
Tommy grabbed the roman candle and lit it, almost already on the run as he did so. Fireballs began to shoot up into the sky and we all watched, fascinated. Greg began to dance again, flailing his limbs more powerfully with each colorful ball. Disregarding our warnings, Greg was now on a mission to catch one of the fireballs. We knew that we should not be letting this happen, but who were we to ruin Greg’s fun? There was something almost beautiful about the mess of arms and legs flying every which way and the soundtrack of squeals, giggles, and animated noises that accompanied his dancing. And if it wasn’t beautiful, it definitely was hilarious. A red ball went flying and Greg lunged for it. He missed the fire, but we weren’t lucky enough for him to miss the firework. In the span of 4 seconds we had gone from 1776, celebrating our independence with our forefathers to 1966 in the middle of Vietnam with our actual fathers.
Instinctively I had jumped behind the nearest tree, unaware if I was fleeing from the fireballs raining down upon us or the spine-tingling scream and smell coming from Tery. What was that smell? To this day I can still smell that smell; a smell generally reserved for firefighters, doctors, and those most unfortunate. It was the smell of burning flesh. Man down, Man down! One of the balls had struck Tery in the neck and we all watched, paralyzed by both fear and confusion, as he rolled around in anguish.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Terry could not stop yelling, “Somebody get my mom. Go get my mom, please. Get my mommmmmm. Ahhh,” His screams made me want to run for help, even in the midst of Armageddon, and I may have sat there frozen in awe if it weren't for that smell.
“Hold on, Tery, just stay down,“ I said as I ran for help. What a shame, that may have been the best roman candle we’d ever get to see – that thing wouldn’t go out even now that we wanted it to. This remarkable firework had been lost, hidden and tarnished by excitement and bad luck. That was our last Fourth of July on Hopewell Court. We began celebrating Halloween together instead. Candy and costumes were much safer than fireworks – or so we thought.