There are times when having a brother with twenty more years of age, experience, and wisdom, can adversely effect your credibility. This is especially true at nine years old. I found this to be the case one Christmas day many years ago when my brother Tom came home for the holidays.
It appeared to be the start of a special Christmas, for my brother was coming to visit. I was even more excited than usual for a nine-year-old boy at this time of year. I wondered what new presents would be under the tree? In the past, Tom always got me such neat stuff. I could hardly wait to start shaking the gifts and guessing.
As usual, I was up before dawn, tearing into my gifts with all the fervor with which the drowning seize life preservers. My folks, along with my brother, had now joined me in the gift-opening ceremony. Saving the best for last was out of the question; it was the gift from my brother that I tore into first.
My dreams had come true. My prayers were answered. There it was, bigger and shinier than anything in the display case of any Western Auto store in the world. It was a B B gun. Finally, I had entered the ranks of the big kids. The prestige of such a gift! I anticipated the glory of shooting my first bird. This was truly a present for a twelve years old, maybe even a teenager. While reveling in my grandeur, I hadn't noticed that my Mother was watching with obvious disapproval. Apparently she had other plans for the B B gun.
You can't shoot that thing in the yard! she barked. You'll have to go to the riverbed. With those words, I was instructed to leave the B B gun under the tree with the less attractive presents. You can open your other gifts now. Tom will watch you while we go visit Auntie Mabel, and don't forget, leave the B B gun alone, Mom ordered.
No sooner than they were out the door my brother grabbed the gun and headed towards the back yard. Where’re you going? I asked. To test your gun out before Mom and Dad get back was his reply. I thought this was a grand idea.
Our back yard was full of potential targets. My brother's first choice was two cases of empty mason jars my Mom used for canning fruit. Somehow this didn't seem like the right thing to do, but surely Tom would know right from wrong. He stacked up all twenty-four jars and shot them into a deadly pile of broken glass and jar lids. I had wanted a turn with the gun, but he said, I have to sight it in first.
With the jars demolished, Tom decided to find a few new targets. First was the neighbors' weather vane: an aluminum rooster high atop their barn. As each shot connected with its intended target, paint chipped off the rooster. This looks like fun. Can I have a turn yet? I asked. His reply was an adamant No!
After this target was exhausted, he moved on to the neighbor's porch lights. What a good shot he was, as the various outside lights of all three surrounding houses burst one by one. I was anxious for my turn, but now Tom was taking aim at the windows of a nearby work shed. I couldn't believe my eyes, as he shot out four window panes with consecutive rapid-fire shots. When will it be my turn? I cried, about to wet my pants with anticipation. You can't shoot the gun in the yard, he snapped. You'll have to go to the riverbed. With that shocking statement Tom marched into the house and tossed the gun back under the Christmas tree.
Of course I was furious for not getting to shoot my own gun, especially with such good targets. It was too late, though, for by now my parents had returned home. Nothing was said about the target practice that went on in their absence, but I was sure they would find out soon. I was also sure my brother would be long gone before all the damages were