Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Shocking Childhood

There's one thing about growing up in a family of seven kids. There was always something going on.  That's not to say that was always a good thing, but it was seldom boring.

I was the next to the youngest, with my younger brother being sick a lot and everyone else quite a bit older than me except for the next oldest brother to me. He's five years older than me. Yes, the same one that's  in the Bats In My Belfry story.  And it's strange how things worked themselves out when we got older. We're pretty close now, probably because we finally quit messing with each other long enough to realize we've got a lot in common.  But it sure wasn't that way when we were younger.  He used to pick on me something fierce. He would hop out of the top bunk in the middle of the night and scare the bejeezus out of me. Throw me in the pitch-dark closet and lock the door and not let me out for awhile. I was afraid of the dark until I was in my twenties because of that.  But I'd get even.  I'd do things that I knew he'd get blamed for because Mom and Dad would NEVER suspect ME. So I'd take sweet revenge watching as Dad would holler and sometimes take off his belt and whack him on the ass with it.  But in the long run, I'd pay for whatever revenge I got. Big Brother was pretty creative and definitely conniving, and with five years on me, I didn't have a chance.

On one particular Saturday afternoon, all of my siblings were outside or gone except for Big Brother. He was sitting in the living room on the floor with a contraption in front of him on the coffee table that looked something like the thing in the picture above. But instead of the light bulb, there were two long wires attached to it.

I was probably around eight or nine, and I had no idea what it was. "What's that thing?" I asked.
 Big Brother stared at the thing and said, "It's a worm shocker."
"A what?"
" A worm shocker, stupid. Don't you know what a worm shocker is?"
"No. What is it?"
He rolled his eyes, put his hands out towards me with impatience and said, "You know, worms? What we go fishin' with? I'm making a machine that will make them wiggle out of the ground so we don't have to dig them anymore. Give 'em a shock of electricity and they'll wiggle out of the ground and jump right into our bait box."
"Naw. You're lyin'," I said. It wouldn't have been the first time he had told me a whopper, that's for sure.
"Ain't lyin', and I'll prove it." He grabbed one of the long wires in each hand and said, "Here. Grab this bare part of the wire in each hand, hold your arms as far apart as you can,  and I'll show you!"

I should have known better, even if I was only eight or nine. As soon as I grabbed the wires and held my arms apart, he started cranking furiously. I felt the jolt of electricity run through each hand and arm and it met in the middle. It was the first time I had ever gotten any kind of electrical shock, and I thought I was going to die.

I fell to the floor, crying and screaming. I tried to let go of the wires, but I couldn't. I was writhing on the floor and through my teary eyes I saw Mom run into the living room. She had a broom in her hand and she yelled at Big Brother, "Stop it! You're killing him!"

But Big Brother cranked like a madman, his tongue sticking out in grim determination. Mom started beating him with the broom and continued to yell at him. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally quit cranking the hand generator, I finally could let go of the wires. My face was red, wet with tears and snot, and it was all I could do to crawl up on the couch. My body felt like all my bones had turned to mashed potatoes.  Mom kept hollering at him, and I heard, "Wait until your Father gets home!" But I don't remember much else that happened after that. But I do know I never saw the hand generator again.  Either Big Brother or one of the others finally did build a worm shocker out of a steel rod, lamp cord and electrical tape but Dad found it and threw it away which was just as well.

I've told this story to many people, and some that know me have had a look of  discovery on their faces after the telling.  No doubt they thought I got the way I am because I was dropped on my head once too often but no, it was something even more shocking than that...

No comments:

Site Meter