It was summer time in all of its brilliance, unbearably hot, Minnesota humidity, grass so green it hurt the eyes to look directly at it. The summer of Return of the Jedi and all of the boys knew that Endor was the place to be, guiding action figures through Green Velvet boxwood bushes and honeysuckle vines.
Somehow a part of the golf course was left untouched by the adults leaving its rolling hills and waterways just for the children. The boys had found a rope bridge that spanned a ravine, a perfect place to stage an early morning laser battle with precipices to dangle from and gaps to jump over. When Mike Johnson had shown up he had jumped on the bridge at one end causing it to undulate and sway causing most to run, afraid of the older boy, afraid to fall. Amongst the younger boys only Peter had laughed, timing his own jumps to Mike’s waves, bouncing over them like they were a trampoline.
Mike eventually stopped and crossed the span of the bridge, so impressed with Peter’s courage, he said, that he’d hang out. Peter suspected that’s what Mike had wanted all along, so he loaned him his brand new Han Solo figure (Peter liked Luke better anyway). Peace restored to the child kingdom, everyone went back to making sound effects and contributing to their ongoing, impromptu assault on the rope cum AT-AT bridge.
This had filled the ravine with laughter until Darth Vader showed up and Smitty had accidentally knocked Han Solo out of Mike’s hand with his lightsaber attack. All of the boys, even Mike, had watched the plastic, lifeless figure fly out over the ravine, plummeting out of sight.
Peter had felt himself begin to cry, trying bravely to hold back the tears, not wanting to upset the other boys or ruin the morning’s fun. But how the contained fluid must have shown on his face because everyone went quiet, staring at Peter until Mike hooked a thumb at himself and said, “I’ll go get it.” All eyes moved from Peter to Mike, a hushed awe falling over them at the thought of the dangerous climb.
Good to his word (unlike most olders) down Mike went, holding onto roots and vines, the damp earth crumbling under his feet as he descended. He disappeared over an edge and everyone else held their breath, waiting for the inevitable catastrophe or unlikely miracle.
Disaster announced itself with a scream from Mike. Everyone leaned over the bridge’s handrail or poked through its balusters to see the older boy scrambling up, making great speed away from something. That something announced itself in the form of a cloud of angry wasps that rose out of the ravine, a hostile and alien bombination filling the air and rattling everyone’s nerves. Screeches from the boys on the bridge echoed Mike’s yells.
They retreated in terror and panic, swatting blindly at the air as they stumbled back to the clubhouse. Chastised by adults who simultaneously administered soothing creams and first aid, Peter had learned the bridge had been closed due to the very wasps they had encountered. And none of their parents were happy the boys had wandered so far as to make their way there.
It was a disaster. They were all covered in wasp stings and Peter had lost his Han Solo Endor action figure.
So why couldn’t he stop laughing?