Looking back now, it is not something I am very proud of, but at fourteen, the thought of torturing pesky little kids was a delicious thought. For my brother Rick, working in conjunction with me must have seemed like the pinnacle of the eleven years he spent on this earth. Faced with a long, boring summer, we needed to find something "constructive" to do.
While considering our victim, the first obvious choice was our little sister Dina, who was a precocious almost six-year-old. She did face a lot of our wrath, but her habit of running to Mom and Dad with outlandish tales of my brother's and my actions, limited what we dared to do. However, my sister had a friend, a dainty, but noisy little kid named Charlene.
Charlene, an only child who lived next door, was not a particularly bright kid, which suited Rick and I just fine. I guess, as an only child, she enjoyed the commotion we both created throughout our household. She always seemed to get in the middle of whatever we were doing. Most of the time this was annoying, but, on our most sadistic days, her presence became a catalyst to some wonderful "fun."
The best times involved a magnificent game, a "kind of" combination of hippety-hop/pillow-fight/target practice. Though barely tall enough to fit on the large, red rubber hippety-hop, Charlene could bounce incredibly high, often completely leaving the ground by several inches. Imagine a room, with a fireplace and hearth on one side, a couch and two chairs heavily laden with pillows of various sizes on the other side and a dainty little girl bouncing high above the thin, brown carpet in the middle. The scenario was simply too good to pass up.
My brother and I selected our weapons and began firing. The timing was important, the idea was not to hit Charlene, that was too easy, we aimed for the hippety-hop. While usually hitting it simply caused the pillows to bounce off at odd angles, if our aim was just right and the timing was perfect, we could knock the big, red ball from underneath her with obvious wonderful results. She would tumble to the ground in such amazing positions. The true art in everything was quickly getting to her as she began crying and, by expressing our amazement at her courage and ability, convincing her not to run and tell her parents on us.
Over a several week period, we continued the magnificent game, which included several wonderful crashes, as she landed face first onto the stone hearth. At these times, my brother and I were our most convincing and the "brave" acrobat stuck around. While this was great fun and in spite of the wonderful acrobatics we witnessed, my brother and I soon got bored. We needed a new method of torture.
When the carnival came to town and my sister talked my parents into bringing Charlene along, Rick and I had our opportunity. We patiently waited while my sister and Charlene rode the Ferris Wheel, did the teacup ride and played a few toss the ring games and then we struck. It was called the Salt and Pepper Shaker, a large blue-green contraption with two long arms, each with a cab attached to the end. Four people could sit in each cab while the arms revolved like a propeller, first spinning one direction, then stopping and swinging the other. Rick and I had not ridden this ride, but from watching how everyone reacted coming off the ride, we knew it was perfect.
Charlene was our perfect stooge, excitedly following us up the ramp and hopping into her seat with a squeal. My brother and I sat together, facing her as she looked from side to side, taking everything in. We smiled as the ride started and we accelerated upward. As we spun, I felt the blood flow to my feet and suddenly everything was wiggling. Then we stopped and hung for a moment upside-down. I noticed my brother sweating and realized sweat was running over my forehead and dripping onto the top of the cab. I tried to look at Charlene, but couldn't focus; all I could do was listen to her laughing.
Laughing? This wasn't supposed to be happening! We swung again in the opposite direction and the world became a washing machine in the spin cycle. I was sideways, then upside-down, sideways again, and again and again. Damn, this thing just wouldn't stop and through it all, through all the spinning, twirling, and endless hanging, I heard Charlene. Our "victim" was loving it, each and every sweep, every jolting stop and especially hanging upside-down.
Mercifully, the ride finally ended and my brother and I stumbled down the long wooden ramp. We staggered over to a nearby curb and sat down, holding our heads. While we sat, trying to regain our balance and not loose our dinner, Charlene ran up and began dancing in front of us shouting, "Let's do it again. I want to do it again." Rick and I could only groan, wishing we had never met this mean, sadistic, little girl.