I was reminicing today about my childhood. Remembering the wild times when I spent almost all of my days outside in the forest running amok. Specifically I thought about the battle of the gultch.
Behind my house there was a green space and then the redwood forest began with a few wayward trees and then there was a sloped path with a deep gultch on one side wich declined sharply descending about 25 feet before hitting a fern lined creek bed. The path winded and switchbacked down to the creek and then one branch followed its course back behind all of the houses on my street.
There was a girl on my street who was my arch nemisis. Heather and I hated each other, the cause of the anger does not matter and indeed I can not remember when it all began, in fact I think we had once been on the path to friendship when we descided instead to be mortal enemies. Her house backed onto a similar path down to the gultch and one day before school while we were waiting for the bus she informed me that her and her teenaged sister were going to come over that evening and 'kick my ass'.
All day during classes she taunted me, telling me how much her and her sister hated me and how they were going to beat the crap out of me. I was scilent to her, I could not ignore but I diddnt give any outward sign of my reaction. Inside I was plotting my own strategy for conquest.
I was accomplished at that tender age in the arts of warfare. I was a excellent archer, I could hit the center of my target over what was for my size a great distance. I had been in the habit of making my own whip switches with supple branches of cherry wood and a waxed cord wich I could use either to flick cans off of a fence line or to grab and pull things towards me. I dreamed I was Indiana Jones, and though my switch whips looked nothing like his ellegant bullwhip it was versitile and suited my size. I was also in the habit of brewing poisons, I had a miniature labratory wich was in reality a series of old tins, a copper kettle, and some victorian bottles (the gultch was littered with artifacts from the victorian era, including many medicine bottles) I used a fire pit to boil water to make my decoctions and infusions of toxic plants, mushrooms and perloined liquids. These toxins were in fact deadly as I knew far too much about plants at this age. I had acess to foxglove (digitalis) for instance wich would cause heart attack in even a minute dose. I would sit for hours chopping, grinding, boiling and steeping these highly deadly plants.
However with all of these deadly arts at my command I descided that seeing as I did not want to actually commit murder (not that I thought the world would miss Heather but that I would not like to have to explain to the authorities or even to my parents why I had assasinated two girls from my street). What I needed was not a way to kill them, but a way to scare them. Scare them to the point that they would never again plot to overtake me.
I thought over many possibilities I needed a weapon that was perhapse not useful in its efficiency to effect damage but one that would be imposing and strike fear into my opponants. I needed to seem unstable to them, to be one who would be likely to use such weapon even though it would get me into trouble so that they would indeed believe that I was a threat.
So I got a Knife. It was a big knife, one of those hunting knives like crocodille Dundee had, wicked sharp with a curved back tip and a serrated back near the haft. It had a sheith that could be strapped to ones leg (if one had a leg large enough wich unfortunately I did not at the time) and the handle was polished wood or bone, I cannot remember now at the time wich it was.
This knife was formidible looking though it was not well ballanced and was cumbersome and akward. Hopefully though I would not have to use it.
After school I whent to my hiding spot I was croutched behind the giant redwood stump that had my tree house. A thick clump of bamboo curtained me from the other side and shielded me from view of the house. I waited for a long time, it was fully dark by the time I heard their voices coming up the path from the creek. I could see their shadows moving towards the house. I needed the lights from the house to reflect off of the knife otherwise they would never see that I was so armed and I ran the risk of them rushing me and I would actually have to use it.
I waited until they were almost to the porch and came up behind them, I had cut off their escape and knew that once I had frightened them I would have to allow them to circle behind me to flee while still appearing to be the scary agressor and not giving ground. They were whispering and though I was close behind them I could not hear their plotting over my parents stereo. My parents were having a party or something I cant remember the occassion but I do remember that they had friends with kids there whom I was supposed to be entertaining in my room. The back door led to our mudroom wich led to the kitchen wich most likely contained my parents and or their friends so I would need to make sure that the nemisis and her sister would not feel the need to retreat screaming through the house.
I stepped into the ring of the back porch light, and made some pithy comment. I do not now recall what it was I said, Though I made it the habit even of a early age to be insulting in such a intellegent riddling way that it would be confusing to most of what I deemed to be inferior intellects but were in fact my peers. I probably would have said something allong the lines of "You step into my web like a moth into a flame, trapped and helpless you both are ready to stick my sting in." Though I actually dont recall what I said and it might have been something entirely more mundane.
Heathers sister got in front of her, that I remember. She was almost protective towards her sister in that moment; though she was constantly mean to her at the bus stop, in fact they always squabbled verbally in public. I was the outsider threat and blood protected blood.
The girl was spitting out trite nasty remarks full of pale and unimpressive language that some would consider shocking in one so young. Swear words coming from her lips did not shock me then, though seeing them come out of my daughters mouth now I find them either comical or repugnant. Then though I found it rediculous and pityable. She used swear words because she did not have the vocabulary to voice her anger appropriately or strongly enough to suit her. Yet another reason for me to use my intellect to goad her and manipulate her in the direction I wanted her to go.
Fortunately, though her sister was large enough to concern me physically- she was not intellegent enough to joust with me verbally so I felt very superior and secure in my prowess. Unfortunately the ability to insult your opponant in interesting obscure ways never stopped anyone from getting their nose bloodied.
The girls sister began to walk down the porch stairs and though I was making a impressive showing of the knife flashing between my hands she advanced, I retreated. They split up and flanked me; this basic strategy of attack had elluded me for wich I am now profoundly embarrassed. I had never been in a battle against unknown assailants though I had read many accounts of them in books. I was prepaired for a head on attack like infantry, they were giving me a wolfish attack from the sides.
Im racking my brain now to remember what was said and all of the snappy comebacks as I beat my retreat as they advanced... but it all elludes me. Eventually I recall that we were positioned where I had my back at the gultch and they were between it and my house. I jumped on the log that was allong the gultches rim when first one surged forward a foot or two then the other and it made me do this weird side to side motion with my body rotating as I faced one, then the other of my two attackers even though they were still a few feet from me. I overballanced and fell backwards. My body flipped end over end, I wish I could describe the motion with my hands, I fell backwards, flipping head over heels and then grabbed some ferns and started to roll and slide the rest of the way down the gultch. I was hidden in the tall ferns (keep in mind that these are northern California redwood forests. The ferns are primeval in size, you can hide easily under one clump of ferns. The knife was gone, lost in the mud somewhere; and clearly it was of little use anyway.
I laid under my ferns scilently untill the two girls came past me the elder was in the lead and I lept at the younger and like a wild thing scratched clawed bit and pummeled her. The older one pulled me off and at that point their plans of beating me up were over, she was more worried about getting her sister home. They were superficial scratches scrapes and bruises but I think that my wild behavior shocked them both, and they diddnt know how to deal with such ferocity. She just helped her sister up and they hurried home.
Clearly the girl could have kicked and beaten me to a pulp, she was much bigger than I, and stronger, and probably faster. I however was the veteran of many skirmishes with my sisters. They were far bigger than either of my opponants, and had no compunctions against giving me regular and violent beatings. So pain was not a factor in my strategy. I was more than willing to be beaten, if it stopped future beatings.
These girls did not have the same level of violence in their homes, and so were shocked when it finally came down to the grim reality of warfare. The battle was over, and the next day at school I had gained a reputation for being crazy and cruel. The girl showed off her bruises and scrapes and told everyone a version of the story that painted me as the agressor in a unprevoked attack upon her. Her sisters part was never mentioned. I allowed this story to be spread without arguement because it was to my advantage. After this I was never again attacked or threatened all the way up to high school I enjoyed a reputation of violence and unpredictability.
Authors note: If your interested in lord of the flies check this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW4KalGfcDY its a utube clip of a deleted scene from the first B&W movie.