I was a wild child when I was 4. I was downright mean and evil. I make no apologies for it. I was only 4. It's not like I was capable of much rational thought. I'd kill every bug I could find. Tear down spider webs. Throw bird's eggs against the side of the house. Steal matches from my mother's purse and set little fires so I could sacrifice Hot Wheels cars just to watch them melt. You never quite forget the smell of burning plastics. We lived on Searcy Street with Stones River right behind the house.
My dear Granny watched me while my parents worked. When she would upset me I would always tell her I was going to go down to the river. The adults were all terrified that I might one day go down to the river, fall in, and drown. So one day after I told her I was going to go down to the river I ran through the house and slammed the back screen door open before she had time to tell me I wasn't. I hid beside the house and watched as she emerged from the house headed for the banks of the river. I slipped back into the house and promptly hid in my toybox. I could hear Granny calling my name. It soon became obvious that she actually thought I'd jumped in the river. I don't remember how long I hid, but it must have been quite awhile. My Granny was distraught and in tears when I emerged. I figured she'd punish me good, but she didn't. I was good for a few weeks, but it wasn't long before I got mad at Granny for something and I threw one of my toy cars at her striking her in the head.
It wasn't just family members that had to take my little bursts of pure meanness. The worst thing I ever did according to my mother was when I hit Missy Mac in the head with a hammer. Missy Mac's grandfather lived down the street from us. I used to go over there and watch Sesame Street with Missy and her older brother sometimes. Their mother became good friends with my mother and soon Missy Mac was my best friend. I always liked visiting them at the trailer park they lived in. I'd get to play with her brother's Lego sets and Missy's Barbie cars. I don't recall any bad scenes happening until the day Missy and her mother dropped by our place and I wasn't home.
I was out with my father and uncle. My father used to like to drive aimlessly around the back roads of Rutherford County. I liked to ride around with him out on the gravel roads back in 1971. The gravel made for a bumpy ride and you'd stir up dust for miles. Somehow it was fun to choke on it as you rode behind another car. There wasn't usually too much traffic to worry about. We'd come to a bridge over a creek or river and just stop right on the bridge. We'd get out and stare into the water. I'd spit into the water below just like my father and uncle; except they were spitting tobacco juice.
This is what we were doing on the day Missy Mac came to visit my house. We were out driving around and had stopped on a bridge overlooking Overall Creek. My uncle must have forgotten about me because as I tried to jump out of the cab of the truck he slammed the door on my fingers. I screamed like I'd been shot. That's what my father told my mother later. He'd heard people get shot in Vietnam so there's no reason to refute him. It just wasn't good for a tough kid to yell and cry, but a good hand mashing hurts.
I was only bruised and not broken, but my father and uncle felt I'd had enough of an outing so we headed home. I calmed down by the time we got to Searcy Street, but I was still huffing and puffing enough that my mother knew something was wrong. The swollen purple fingers told the story - it was rather common for me to get my hands smashed in car doors for some reason. Once she figured out I would live she thought I would like to know that Missy Mac was visiting and was playing in my room.
It was then that I finally noticed her mother at our kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee in our hands. My folks would drink hot coffee at any time and any season and I guess Missy's mother could too. I was happy for a split second that Missy was over, but my hurting hand quickly took over when I got to my room and saw her rifling through my toybox. She was just throwing my stuff all over the place.
One of the items in the doorway was a toy hammer. It was a toy only in that it was small. It was actually just a miniature hammer. I grabbed it and quickly made my way across the room where I beaned Missy Mac. After that smack she quit going through my toybox. She was only able to scream and stumble out the door to her mother. My mother found me calmly putting my toys away when she came to invstigate what had happened. The fact that I'm an only child helped me escape the total wrath of Missy's mother.
Years later (Missy graduated from Riverdale in 1985 with me) we would all laugh about the incident. My mean years didn't last much longer. By the age of 6 I was a nicer boy with a much higher boiling point temperature. I'm just glad that my kids don't seem to have inherited my, however fleeting it was, mean streak.