My Pedal Car Fire Truck
I've already said that Mark Gerber could be a worm and a weasel. He'd told me that Mrs. Price was a witch, and with my imagination, I of course, believed him. After that I was haunted by a recurring dream which found me being chased by a witch all dressed in black. She was chasing me round and round the Gerber's house. The witch would hover over me and when I looked her in the face, it was the grimy face of Mrs. Price just inches from my own! I always woke up just before I was caught by her, heart pounding and body drenched in sweat. The hall light was no protection against my dream, and I would lie there in abject terror.
Mark Gerber was two years older than me. He was a skinny kid and sported the usual crew cut hair of most kids in that era. He always seemed to wear striped t-shirts.
Mark liked to tease me and call me baby and make fun of the toys I played with. He always wanted to play with those toys, and he coveted one thing in particular: my pedal car fire truck.
My fire truck was bright red with a white grill and windshield. Two white handles in the back held small wooden ladders hanging horizontally. There was a shiny silver bell mounted on the hood, and the words City Fire Dept. in white letters on the sides. It was my pride.
One day Mark got it into his head that denying me the use of my fire engine would just make his day. He got in it and drove it around and around my yard but would never get out. No matter how much I told him to, he just wouldn't budge. I lost all my patience with him and decided I had to go to my father.
"Mark won't let me use my fire engine!" I cried.
My father told me what to do. I don't believe that he really meant what he said, but he said to so I went back to do it.
Dad said, "Well, why don't you hit him with your bat." He must have thought that a 3 and a half year old boy understood the nuances of sarcasm.
I went back to where Mark was sitting in the fire truck.
"My Dad says to get out."
You have to remember I was a pretty obedient kid. My dad had just told me how to solve a problem so I was determined to do it.
Wiffle ball bats in those days were made of wood. They were kind of like a broom stick that vaguely resembled a baseball bat.
Mark wouldn't budge and I had been sent on a mission.
I picked up my bat, walked up to Mark and promptly hit him full force across his chest.
He was, quite naturally, taken completely by surprise. When the initial shock wore off, he screamed, got out of the truck and ran home crying.
My father heard all this and came running.
"What did you do that for?" he yelled.
"Cause you told me to."
I can't remember if I was punished or not. I don't remember if Mark's parents came over to discuss this with mine.
I do know that Mark Gerber didn't try to hog my toys again, especially the fire truck. He still teased me and he would still tell me wild and fantastic stories in order to scare me. He would still be a weasel and a worm.
But for once, in a brief and shining moment , I had gotten some revenge.
And I know that secretly my father had a really good laugh.
He still does today.