Our troop of boys have spent a couple of hours playing games in Trevor's room. By early afternoon it's warmed up enough outside that they can head off to the mansion's own paint-ball field. Trevor (Richie-Rich) narrates this chapter for us...

Chapter Twenty

Jeremy suggests we leave our coats up in my bedroom. He's stepped out onto my bedroom balcony and pronounces the weather warm enough to play outdoors--hooray, paint-ball time!

Heheheh ... Jeremy and Michael are both acting a bit leery. My Father said there were some surprises in store for us on our new paint-ball field. I think they're a bit suspicious that we may have plans to get even with them. You know ... to get even with their laughing at us after scaring us so badly during that last, big battle.

It was after our big battle at Potter's Field that Marc and I filled my Father in on the details. He laughed so hard I thought he was going to have a stroke. It didn't seem so funny to us at the time, however. I had run off that field as fast as I could, hollering for my Mum, because I just knew I was going to get blown up with a bomb! And poor Scooter, he pooped his pants when he was running off the field! He just knew he was going to be blown into little, red chunks of Scooter meat!

The bombs turned out to be some big firecrackers that Scully was throwing at us. They said it was to add realism to the battle. Well--it was real, alright! Possum was on my team and he took off running before I did. But I managed to pass him like he was standing still! I even fell down once, but my legs didn't stop pumping even while I was spread-eagled on the ground. I was up so fast that I don't think anyone even saw me fall. I didn't tell anyone this, but I actually pooped a little too.

To be fair though, those fellows did apologize afterwards. But not before laughing their fool heads off. And I thought Timmy was going to die of apoplexy, he tried so hard not to laugh at his boyfriends--Scooter and Possum. The older boys tried to convince us to play another paint-ball game, but we'd all had enough excitement for the day. So that's when all of us went skinny dipping for the first time together. And I'll tell you what--hubba, hubba, bubba--there are some nice looking bodies in this group ... giggle!

Jeremy and Michael are older; they're fourteen. But they still don't have any hair down there to speak of. Gosh... our friend Timmy is only eleven and he has scads of hair. And then you should see Sammy--WOW! And I just met Tyson today. He's Kyles big brother. He has a bunch of hair too. And he's tall and has the prettiest eyes. Anyway, the rest of us are just a bunch of baldies. Oh well--there's nothing in the way of the view then, is there? Heheheh!

I'm fairly well dancing around as we all walk out to the new field. I'm so excited because of the stuff Father has put out there. I just know that Michael and Jeremy and Kyle and Tyson are going to love it. They've all played regulation paint-ball and they know what a tournament field is supposed to look like. Father and I had to go online to get a look at one. And then Father grinned and said "that shouldn't be too hard to do. I'll order those inflatable barricades today and have them delivered." He helped Marc and I inflate them and set them up after school during the week. And then some people showed up from out of town and Father said they were going to prepare some surprises for the geeky boys--Michael, Jeremy and Scully. Oh my God--this is going to be GREAT!

"What are you bouncing around for, Richie-Rich?" Jeremy asks me. "You look like Tigger gettin' ready to hump Winnie the Pooh!"

"I can't help it fellows," I exclaim, "I just can't wait for you to see the new field. Boy, are you guys going to be surprised."

"That's what worries me," Michael quips, "I'd swear your Dad had an evil gleam in his eye when he talked about the surprises out here. You don't have an army of Ninjas hidden in the woods, getting ready to kick our asses, do ya?"

"Don't be silly, Michael. You'll be able to see the surprises just as soon as we get there." I'm fibbing a bit here, but I want to allay as much suspicion as I can.

Scooter and Possum are giggling and dancing around. I hope they don't give anything away. We filled them in on our plans before the other boys got to the house today. I just wish I could have found a way to tell Sammy and Tyson too. But those boys were the last ones to get to the house and I couldn't figure out how to get them off to one side. Oh well, I guess they have some surprises coming as well.

"Ummm... I'm not buying any of it, Richie," Jeremy responds. "Your Dad said he did his best to turn the field into a regulation paint-ball field. THEN, he said there were some surprises in store for us as well. So I think there is more here than meets the eye. Plus, Scooter and Possum are dancing around like Timmy has his finger up their butts. I think they're in on it, whatever it is."

This sets the Hughes twins to giggling twice as hard. Now they're wiggling their butts at Jeremy. Scooter yells "no fingers here--see! But there's room for your tongue, Jeremy ... ha, ha, ha!" And they're fairly dancing around--just like me.

"Smart asses..." Scully giggles. But we are within a couple hundred feet of the field now, and even from here you can see some massive, brightly colored objects on the field.

"Oh my GOD!" Michael and Jeremy yell at the same time. They both start a fast trot towards the field. This gets the rest of us rushing forward as well and I am giggling like a little girl showing her panties on the jungle gym.

The boys pull up at the side of the field and just do a wide eyed gawk. Father purchased over thirty inflatable barricades to place on the field. These are huge balloon-like things of every imaginable shape. There are squares, rectangles, cones and cylinders and they are scattered about the field. These are the things that we are supposed to hide behind when we shoot at each other, I guess.

"Wheeew..." Tyson whistles. "Our paint-ball club priced a few of these things and some of em are a couple hundred bucks or more apiece. Yer Dad musta spent a fortune here, Richie."

"I'll say he did," Marcus quips, "and he didn't stop there either. Show em the rest of the surprise Richie."

"Follow me fellows," I yell, as I run over to one end of the field. There is a table set up here with a tarp covering it. "Pull off the tarp, Michael ," I tell him.

Michael and Jeremy pull back the tarp together and give a collective gasp of surprise. The table is covered with ammo belts containing pods of ammo. The pods carry 200 paint-balls each and allow the player to fill up the empty hopper on his gun. There are three pods on each belt.

"Oh my God, Richie! There's enough belts here for everyone, ain't there?" Michael asks. "Yes," I respond, "and that isn't all. Pull the tarp the rest of the way back." Michael does so and five paint-ball masks come into view.

"Oh Kool," Kyle exclaims. You must'a told your Dad that the older boys gave up their masks to the younger guys."

"Yes," I answer, "and Father was impressed that you guys would wear wood-working goggles so that the rest of us could wear your masks. He said it showed a lot of maturity. Then he said he wanted to make sure that everyone was protected. And look under the tables too, fellows."

Everyone bends down and looks at row after row of boxes of ammunition that Father has bought us. Each box holds two thousand paint-balls and Father bought ten boxes.

"Holy SHIT!" Jeremy yells out.

"So..." Marcus quips, "do you guys feel a little foolish for thinking that the surprises were going to be a bad thing?" He's grinning at Michael and Jeremy. Those two boys have lowered their vision to the ground and are looking quite contrite.

"Yeah," Michael mumbles, "I guess we shoulda known that Trevor was a square shooter. I'm sorry for being suspicious, Richie." Jeremy echoes with, "I am too. Sorry bud."

Now I wish Marcus hadn't said that: I'm feeling guilty now. That's because these aren't all the surprises! And... well, you're just going to have to wait and see, I guess. But there is some definite payback coming up. And I'm going to strangle Scooter if he doesn't stop hopping around and giggling. He's going to give something away, yet. Luckily, none of the geeky trio seem to be paying him any attention; they're handing out ammo belts to everyone.

Tyson is helping Sammy put on a mask. He's never shot a paint-ball gun before, I don't think. But he's grinning like crazy and seems to be enjoying the prospect of the upcoming battle.

"Okay," Jeremy says, "let's draw lots to see which team people are on. I'll put Green and Red paint-balls in my mask and hold it over my head. First, me and Mic and Scully and Kyle will play paper scissors rock to see who gets to be referee. We got one extra guy so one of us needs to ref: and I think it should be someone that knows all the rules of tournament paint-ball. But I don't think we should include Tyson cuz he needs to help Sammy out. Also, we'll make sure Ty and Sammy get on the same team."

"Yeah--what about the rules, guys?" Sammy asks. "How do you play this game anyway?"

"Well," Kyle says, "I don't think we should try for a regulation match cuz there are way too many rules. Besides, a regulation game has seven people per team and we only have five. And we only have one referee too." Then he says "dang--it looks like I'm the referee."

Tyson grins at his little brother and then adds, "Good point, bro. Let's just make it a simple game of capture the flag. Okay with you guys?" He looks over towards the other geeky boys and gets a bunch of head nods.

"Oh... oh... Richie, we almost forgot," Marcus yells out. He pulls a box out from under the table and digs through it. "Richie's Dad got us four referee vests, a stop watch and four whistles." He hands a vest and a whistle and the stopwatch to Kyle. Then Marcus reaches back into the box. "We got flags too. Here is a red one and a green one." He holds the two foot by two foot flags up for everyone to see.

"Kool" Kyle says, slipping on the vest. "Okay, simple rules then. If you sneak up close on someone and are about to make a kill, you hafta announce it to them. Then if they don't wanna get shot up close, they can throw a hand up and surrender. If you shoot them anyway, and I see you, you're dead too. Then your both out'a the game. Also, any paint on your body, clothing or even pods, and you're dead. Dead people go to the sidelines."

Kyle thinks for a minute and then adds, "If I blow my whistle and point at you, it means you're dead and you hafta leave the game. You can argue with me after the game if you want but there's no arguing with the ref during the game. "

"What's this about a flag?" Sammy asks.

"Well," Kyle continues, "each team will start out at opposite ends of the field. You will each hang your flag on the fence down by your end. If an opposing team member makes it to your end of the field alive and touches your flag, his team wins. And another thing, I can't cover both ends of the field at the same time. So the first three guys to get killed hafta put on vests and become referees too."

"Me... me..." Scooter yells, "kill me now! I wanna be a ref."

Possum echoes with "me too!"

"No way, guys," Timmy says. "Look, yer the shortest ones here. Ya got the best chances of any of us. Besides, yer both really good shots. Don't ya wanna shoot some people?"

"Yeah, I suppose." Scooter replys, but it only seems half hearted. I can't say I blame him: we are going to be shooting at each other with fully automatic weapons. And even though they won't kill you for real, they can hurt like heck.

"Hey... hey!" Marcus yells out. "Don't forget that all you guys have to be doing this in the nude! Remember yer promise from the last game?"

Everyone's jaws drop and we stare wide eyed at Marcus. And then there is pure pandemonium as everyone starts yelling at once that they aren't going to do it. There are a few choice cuss words thrown into the mix that I'm not going to repeat.

Jeremy whistles to get everyone to quiet down. Then he says "listen, Marc, you can't possibly expect to hold us to that--can you? I mean, look what happened to you when I shot you in the crotch! Would you want anyone else to feel like that? Besides, I shot you from two hundred feet away and we'll be shooting each other a lot closer than that."

Marcus just grins back at Jeremy and then starts flapping his arms against his sides. Now he's going "cluck... cluck... cluck..." and scratching the ground with one foot.

"Har, har, har, har!" Sammy is braying like a donkey again. "You mean to tell me, little brother, that you had the balls to play this game in the nude?"

Marcus just grins back at his brother and nods his head.

"Well, if that don't beat all," Sammy says, and he starts pulling off his clothes. "I sure can't let my little brother get one up on me now, can I?"

We all start yelling at him at once, telling him not to do it. But he isn't listening. He has his shirt, shoes and socks stripped off. Words are being bandied around like "ya big idiot," and, "yer gonna be so-o-r-ry." But all Sammy can hear are the "cluck-clucks" coming from Marcus as he pulls off his pants.

Kyle blows his referee's whistle, "Weeeeeeet." This causes everyone to shut up and look up at him. "Look Sammy," he says, "are ya willing to try a quick experiment before ya go through with this?"

"I dunno; what's the experiment?" Sammy asks.

"Just this..." Kyle says, as he raises his rifle. "I'm gonna shoot ya once in yer leg while ya got yer pants down. Then you decide if ya really wanna strip for this game or not--okay?"

It sounds like a dare to Sammy, and being the macho man he is, there isn't any way he's going to back out of a dare.

I shake my head in exasperation at Marcus because he's redoubled his clucking and scratching efforts. But I look over towards Sammy just as I hear the "pffft" of Kyles gun. A nice, red splotch appears on Sammy's thigh and his eyebrows shoot up and his eyeballs puff out!

"HOLY CRAP!" he yells, slapping his hand across his thigh. "That hurt like a BITCH!"

Marcus has stopped his clucking noises and he's grinning like a senior citizen with a Viagra hardon! "Gotcha--ya fool!" He hollers at his brother. "I knew you'd be the only one to take such a stupid dare... har, har, har... hee, hee, hee!"

Sammy lurches towards his little brother like he's going to tear his head off! But he forgets that his pants are down around his ankles and he does a big belly-flop onto the ground. His legs are pumping away and he's jerking his pants up as he scrambles to his feet. Only, by now, Marcus has one heck of a head start on him and he's running like he's Goldilocks and Sammy is the Pappa Bear. And I think his butt is going to be porridge if he gets caught!

"Haaa... haaa ... haaa," Marcus is yelling as he runs, "ya big--dumb--HOMO--JOCK... haaa... haaa... haaa!"

Oh my gosh, people are rolling on the ground! This is like watching the Keystone Cops! Every once in a while Sammy stops and hops on one foot after stepping on a stone or sticker or something; then he's right back to chasing after his brother again. Eventually he steps into a patch of something that seems to hurt both of his bare feet and he just sits down on his bum, shaking his fists at his departing brother.

"Marc..." he yells at his brother's disappearing backside, "I take back my apology for cutting off yer damn hair... I should'a cut off yer damn head!"

The only one that isn't laughing his fool head off is Tyson, Sammy's boyfriend. And he's just shaking his head at Sammy; probably wondering what he's gotten himself into with the boy. Sammy comes limping back to the group however and announces, "if you guys don't mind, I think I'm gonna wear all my clothes fer this damn game."

We just giggle and nod our heads at him. Then Michael adds "if it's any consolation, Sammy, ya should have seen your little brother's battle scars from last weekend. His chest and groin looked like he had giant chicken pox from where he'd been shot. He was lying on the ground, holding his crotch and screaming. He was afraid to look at his pecker. But Jeremy got a look at it and he told everyone that he'd shot Marc's dick and balls clean off! Marc stopped screaming and got a look of horror on his face. He nearly died of fright--it was so funny!"

Sammy grows a big grin listening to this, while he's slipping into his clothes. "Well, he just might lose his dick and balls yet, if he gets close enough to me."

Marcus trots back to the group and stands next to me, putting his arm around my shoulders. He's panting and staring at his big brother with this impish grin on his face. Then he says "Hey Sammy! I still owe ya about two or three more of those for cutting off my hair, ya know."

Sammy grins back at him and answers "yeah, I know Marc. I guess I was just pissed cuz I fell for yer trick. But I hope ya can finish gettin' even without gettin' me killed in the process."

"Okay guys, everyone reach into my mask and take out a colored ball," Jeremy tells us. "Let's see what teams we're on."

After the draw, and some changing around to make the sides more fair, the teams end up like this: For the Green team it's Michael, Tyson, Sammy, Scooter and Possom. And so for the Red team it's Jeremy, Scully, Timmy, Marcus and myself. My team elects to start at the other end of the field and we start walking down there with our Red flag.

As we're walking, Jeremy feeds us our game plan. "There's two ways we can win this thing, guys. We can capture their flag, which simply means touching it. Or, we can kill their whole team before they can get to our flag. We'll advance towards the middle of the field, keeping well hidden behind the bunkers. I've had a little more practice at this, so I'll try advancing into their territory. If I get a chance to go for their flag I'll take it. Now, I need one of you guys to stay at this end and guard our flag. Timmy, you're a pretty good shot. You stay here, okay?"

Timmy nods his head. And then Jeremy adds, "if any of those guys get past us and get close to that flag; waste em'. Pull the trigger and go to full automatic. Pin em' down behind a bunker if ya have to, but don't let em' get close to the flag."

Jeremy hangs our flag on the back paddock fence. He's about to explain something else when we hear Kyle blow his whistle--and the game is on!

Holy heck--we're all still standing out in the open and the other team's hiding behind their bunkers. They are spraying pellets in our direction with full automatic fire.

"Get behind those bunkers, NOW!" Jeremy shouts. We just basically dive behind the closest inflatables while pellets are exploding all around us. I look over at Marcus and nod my head. He grins back at me and reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small, remote control.

"Which button, Richie?" He whispers to me.

"Upper left." I whisper back. Marcus presses the button and, suddenly, we are in the midst of World War III. Father had some people set six, huge speakers and subwoofers into the treeline surrounding the playing field. Three are on each side of the field. I can't reach the top of those speakers, they're so huge! And now they're blaring out the sounds of exploding artillery shells, strafing airplanes and machine gun fire!

What I had neglected to tell the fellows is that one of the boards my Father sits on is for a major motion picture studio. He flew a couple of technicians up here and had them rig this field with sound and some pyrotechnics!

Kyle has been running our way to see if any of us have been hit by that initial barrage of fire from the Green team. As soon as he hears the strafing airplanes, the bomb explosions and machine gun fire, he throws himself onto the ground and covers his head with his arms!

Marcus is giggling like a fool--and I am too. Kyle is in a perfect position and Marcus presses another button on the remote.

KABLOOM! Ten feet in front of Kyle's head, a huge cloud of dirt erupts into the air with a very bright flash of light!

It's a bit hard to hear anything over the sounds of the speakers and subwoofers, but I'm pretty sure that's Kyles voice I can hear, screaming! I think I could make out "Mamma" and "Holy shit!"

Now, to be truthful, Kyle had never been an intended victim of our retribution. He wasn't part of the cherry bombing that scared the crap (literally) out of us during our first battle. Scully was actually the culprit there. But it's kind of difficult to line up people on a battlefield so that you can pick off one particular guy. Besides, it was too good to pass this up when Kyle placed himself in such a perfect position.

The dirt is still raining down on top of Kyle. The dust is pretty thick but I can see him raise his head and look in our direction. Since he's a ref, and not part of the game, he isn't wearing a mask. His face is covered in soot and he looks like one of those old minstrel guys. All you can see is his saucer-like eyeballs and an open mouth.

Scully screams out "Noooo..." and leaps from his hiding place. He is running zig zags towards Kyle and when he reaches him he throws himself on top of him. Awwww... isn't that cute? He's protecting Kyle with his own body.

Marcus looks over at me with a huge grin and pushes two more buttons.

KABOOM! KAPOW! And enough dirt shoots into to the air to look like Mount St. Helens! There's no brilliant flash of light mixed with this explosion, however. What is mixed with it instead is about thirty gallons of red paint! Even before the dirt and dust begin to settle, the paint drops on Scully and Kyle like a torrential downpour!

Jeremy, who has been hunkered down all this time, had tried to grab Scully and keep him from running over to Kyle. He threw himself back onto the ground however when he saw and felt those twin explosions. Looking back up, to where his little brother had been, all he can see is a field of gore: red earth, in a twenty foot circle, with dirt raining down on top of it.

Jeremy rips his mask off and staggers over to his fallen comrades. He drops to his knees beside Scully and Kyle. If we'd know Jeremy was going to go over there we would have saved one of the explosions for him. But there are no more pyrotechnics buried close enough to give Jer a dose of this medicine.

The same can't be said for Michael, however, who is running hell-bent for leather in our direction. Tyson is close on his heels. I'm sure things looked even more dramatic and realistic from their end of the field. They're running all hunched over and in a zig zag pattern to protect themselves from the straffing planes they can hear overhead and the machine gun fire all around them--chuckle!

Marcus is watching their approach very carefully and when they are almost to the middle of the field he pushes another button. A line of machine gun bullets seems to stitch itself across the field and right across them. It ends up by blowing apart one of the barricades! And as fate would have it for a change, the mini explosions were synchronized perfectly with the sound of one of the strafing war planes. Holy Heck--that looked real! Evidently Michael and Tyson think the same thing! They've thrown themselves onto the ground, side by side.

Marcus is now jumping up and down in his excitement. He turns to me and hands me the remote control. "Here ya go Richie," he says, "you can have the final honors!"

"Gladly" I say, as I push four buttons in a row.

KABOOM! KAPOW! BAROOM! KAPLOW! And Mount St. Helens is dwarfed by the spectacle of Mount Vesuvius erupting around our spread-eagled lads. Two of the explosions consist of bright and near blinding flashes of light. And two erupt in hidden drums of paint! Once more the sky is raining red paint with a mixture of dirt and dust. And when most of the larger particles have settled, I push one more button on the remote.

Where there had been the sounds of exploding artillery, strafing airplanes and machine gun fire, there is now a total and complete silence. It's a silence that's deep and penetrating--overpowering the senses that have been assaulted for the last five or six minutes.

Well, the silence is almost complete. There is the sound of Possom and Scooter at the opposite end of the field, laughing their fool heads off. And of course the typical braying of Timmy to our rear. Those boys had been in on this from the get-go. Tyson and Sammy would have been too, if I'd figured out a way to get to them.

Speaking of Sammy, he seems to be wandering the other end of the field in a daze. He stops to look at the Hughes twins like he figures they must be in shell shock and hysterical. And then he starts trotting towards the obviously gory bodies of four, fallen soldiers: youngsters cut down in the prime of their lives. Har, har, har!

Timmy walks up to Marcus and me and throws his arms around us, still braying in that jack-ass laugh of his. "Well boys," he says, "I think I can protect ya from the geeky boys, but yer on yer own when it comes to Sammy."

Hearing this, Marcus takes off running towards his approaching brother. He reaches Sammy and puts his hands on his brother's shoulders. He's talking to him but they're too far away to hear what he's saying. But Sammy's answering voice comes through loud and clear; "What? A fucking joke? You call that a fucking joke? You blew them up! You blew up your friends!"

It is at about that point that four, seemingly lifeless bodies begin to stir. Shakily, they manage to kneel and finally to stand on their feet. And then Michael's voice echos across the battlefield. "PAINT? PAINT? IT'S FUCKING... RED... FUCKING... PAINT!"

"Oh... thank God!" Jeremy yells. He's staring at the standing figures of Scully and Kyle like he's just witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Oh... Oh... yer alive!"

Jeremy looks back in our direction. "Call 911... hurry... get an ambulance here. Shit... tell em to send four ambulances!"

By this time the Hughes twins have trotted up to us. Their faces are beat red from all the laughing they've done. Scooter looks over at Jeremy and says, "ambulance? What for? You having a baby or something Jeremy?" And the twins start snickering anew.

Jeremy looks at Scooter in total astonishment. "What for?" He hollers, "look at my brother--look at Kyle! I don't know how they're standing; they've lost so much blood!"

Boy, howdy! His astonished look changes to total incredulity when Scooter and Possum start cracking up and hugging their sides!

During this verbal exchange, Michael has managed to wander over in our direction. He has his arms spread out from his sides and his fingers are dripping red, soapy paint!

"What--are ya deaf, Jeremy?" he asks his boyfriend. "They ain't bleedin' to death! I said it's paint... IT'S RED... FUCKING... RED... FUCKING... PAINT! And we've been had like motherfuckers! And I'm gonna kill somebody! AND I DON'T REALLY CARE WHO IT IS!!!"

Michael's jumping up and down now, flinging paint in every which direction! Every word punctuated by an arm throw, a leg kick, a violent head waggle and flying paint!

At this, Marcus and I just stare at each other. I'll tell you what, if my eyes are as big around as Marcus's, my eyeballs are in danger of falling out! We both start sliding quietly behind Timmy--braying, snorting Timmy!

To be honest, neither Marcus or I thought this far ahead in our game plan. I mean, it took all my concentration and effort just to talk Father into helping us with this. We never thought we might have to come up with an escape plan or anything--you know, in case things got violent! And I'm trying to swallow an adams apple that's turned to the size of a grapefruit--it's looking like violence is but minutes away!

Michael has stopped screaming though. Now he is just taking in huge inhalations of air like he's storing oxygen for another verbal rampage. And yes... that's exactly the case because...


You can still hear him panting, but at least he isn't gesturing wildly anymore. He seems to be calming down somewhat after divulging that tid-bit. I don't know if he's just running out of steam, or if he's being affected by Timmy's braying. Because Timmy's vertical laughing position has changed to a horizontal one--he's flopping on the ground, slamming his palms against the dirt and kicking his feet. His brays are louder that the subwoofers were!

Scooter and Possum have wandered over to Timmy and have fallen on top of him, laughing darn near as loud as Timmy. And Michael's staring daggers at them--ho boy, is he ever staring daggers!

He yells, "When I saw and felt that line of machine gun bullets running across my body... that's when I SHIT MY PANTS! I dropped to the ground--knowing I was dead meat! And then there was this god-awful explosion and the ground shot up into the air! AND I SHIT MY PANTS AGAIN!"

"Ehhh... Ehhh... Ehhh... " he's mouth breathing and clenching and unclenching his fists. After a minute, he continues... "And then when it gets quiet, and I uncover my head and look around; all I can see is bloody gore! And what I didn't shit the first two times.... Ehhh... Ehhh... Ehhh... I SHIT AGAIN!!!

Kyle, Tyson and Scully have sort of waddled over to stand beside Jeremy--dripping paint of their own. Their eyes have a sort of dazed, glazed look. Tyson addresses Jeremy in a voice that is barely above a whisper. "I pooped my pants too, Jer." "So did I," Scully responds, and "I did too," Kyle adds.

Four totally miserable looking boys are standing in our midst and, suddenly, what had seemed to have been an immensely humorous trick, now seems more like a cold, callous attack towards my friends. What the heck was I thinking? I'm bowled over by this sense of guilt and of shame. I scared them! I mean I really, really scared my friends!

I can feel tears coursing down my cheeks as I desperately try to think of something to say. But, not having planned this far ahead, not sensing just what the outcome of our practical joke would be, I am at a total loss for words.

I look over at Marcus and I can see that he is similarly affected. His face is tear stained as well. But at least he isn't tongue tied, like me. He says, "damn guys: Richie and me just weren't using our heads, I guess. We thought this would be a fun thing, like a scary roller coaster ride. And maybe it woulda been a fun, scary thing for you too--if you'd had some warning. We just got caught up in it and didn't quit till we'd used up all our bombs. But it turned out so real that it surprised us too."

"Yeah," I respond, finally getting my voice. " I'm so sorry you guys: we just never thought this far ahead. We were so busy planning and making things come together that we didn't think about the important stuff--about what we were doing to our friends." And now I'm just mainly blubbering and am unable to add any more.

All of Jeremy's anger seems to have evaporated. He just looks at me, kind of tired like, and says, "we need to get cleaned up Richie." All I can do is point to the far end of the field and blubber out... "horse coral... hose."

Sammy comes up to bat and begins to take charge. "Come on you guys, let's get you to that coral and I'll hose you down. Quite frankly, I'm gettin' tired of standing down wind from you guys!" And he grins.

"I'll run to the bath house," I yell out. "I'll get you all a warm robe to wear so you can strip out of those clothes." I turn and start trotting towards the house while the boys waddle slowly towards the horse coral.

I get about twenty feet and then I turn around and run back. "Just leave your clothes on the ground, fellows. I'll get a bag to put them in and then run them through the washer and dryer when we get back. You can all take a hot shower at the bath house and then soak in the hot tub while your clothes are drying."

I turn around and start running for the house again. But I get another twenty feet and turn around and run back. "Look fellows--I'm so, so sorry. Marcus and I were so stupid. I'll do everything I can to try and make it up to you--I promise!"

Kyle looks over at me and actually gives me a bit of a smile, even though he is waddling uncomfortably in his paint smeared and poopy filled pants. "Fer cryin' out loud Richie--you didn't actually kill us. We may have thought we were dead meat, but ya didn't actually kill us!"

Scully gives a little giggle. "Yea," he say, "now I kinda know how Scooter musta felt when I caused him to run off the field, pooping all the way to the campground."

"Yeah," Michael adds, "we don't hate you guys or nothin', Richie. We laughed at you guys too when Scooter told us about his accident. But honest to God, my heart's still racing. And I swear I can still hear them damn airplanes."

"B-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-b!" Scooter makes a machine gunning gesture. "Shit--that looked so real." He says. "At first I was lookin' all around for them damn planes even though I knew they weren't real. And then when I saw the bullets shootin' across the ground I started wondering if maybe the planes were real! Invisible airplanes--mowing us down and dropping bombs. Wow! Nope--I sure can't blame you guys fer shittin' yer drawers. But still--if was fuckin' awsome!"

He and Possum are dancing around, pretending to mow each other down with their paint-ball guns. Then Possom accidently squeezes his trigger and sends a burst of green paint spattering across Scooters midsection!

"Oww! You fuck face!" Scooter screams. He points his gun at his brother and squeezes his trigger. "Pf-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-t!" Thirty or forty balls come flying out of the gun and paint little Possum like a Van Gough!

Oh-oh! This is not cool. They've got two hundred rounds of ammo in the hoppers of those guns. And they also have fire in their eyes. Both of their faces are screwed up in determination and anger. And the rest of us are standing around them and we are all definitely in their fire zone. No one rushes forward to stop them; nine boys drop to their stomachs instead.

Everyone but the Hughes twins have shed their masks. We're all hugging the ground with our arms wrapped over our heads. No one can see the action but our ears fill it in quit nicely. I can hear two guns discharging in fully automatic mode! A couple of paint balls actually hit me in the side and they sting like heck from this close range. I imagine the rest of the guys are getting peppered with stray shots as well. But judging from the constant stream of vulgarities and the yelps of pain, I think most of the paint-balls are striking their intended victims. And, when I say vulgarities, I mean words that would curl the hair on your tongue! I'm hearing words I've never heard before. Either these guys are really good at making this stuff up on the fly, or else they lay awake nights having cussing contests.

Pretty soon you can hear the guns running on empty and I dare to raise my head up and look at the combatants. These guys are painted green from head to toe! And, guns dropped to the ground, they're standing toe to toe and whacking one another with all the strength in their skinny arms. The verbal abuse hasn't ended either and I don't think I've heard the same cuss word uttered twice. And some of the stuff they're accusing one another of doesn't even sound physically possible--especially in regards to Uncles, Mothers and various farm animals!

Timmy and Sammy have lept to their feet and are separating the boys. I get to my feet and start trotting towards the bathhouse once more. Hmmm... I guess I'll be getting six bathrobes now rather than just four. The twins are going to need a hosing down as well.

It only takes me about ten minutes to make my way to the bathhouse and back to the horse coral. I've borrowed one of the gardners golf carts because I don't want the fellows to have to walk back bare foot. As I pull up to the corral and the outside hose faucet, I see six naked boys getting a spraying by Sammy. Oh my God... you should see the welts all over Scooter and Possom! They aren't going to want to get in a hot shower or especially into a hot tub. That would sting like heck.

I walk over and hand each of them a thick, terry-cloth robe from the bath house. "Marcus," I ask, "will you drive them to the bath house for a shower? I'll bag up their clothing and follow in a minute."

The fellows wrap their shivery bodies in the robes and hop onto the golf cart. "I wanna drive," Scooter squeaks. He hops behind the wheel. "Kick his ass outa there Marc," Possum replies, "he'll kill us fer sure. You should see the numb-nuts ona ATV. Old ladies and dogs on the streets all climb trees... ha, ha, ha!"

"Move over, pipsqueak," Marcus tells him. "I'm driving this Red Cross ambulance. You can be the siren." The cart takes off with a lurch amid the sound of Scooter and Possum's siren wail, "A-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rrr. Wee-o, wee-o, wee-o, wee-o!"

I find a stick and commence to gather clothing that I place into a plastic trash bag. The smell is kind of making me urpy. Sammy and Timmy find sticks and help me. They look a little green around the gills too.

"God, I'm still having trouble believing that everything was make-believe." Sammy says. "I feel like I've gone through an honest to God war! I can't believe you little dudes were able to rig all that stuff up. I mean... the bullets and the explosions? And those damn airplanes and machine gun sounds had me shoving my head in the dirt. How'd you and Marc do all that shit anyway?"

I just grin back at him. If he wants to think we did this on his own, then he might think twice before he plays any pranks on his brother again... heheheh.

Timmy is doing his usual jack-ass bray. He and the twins thought it was immense fun. And I guess Marcus and I got carried away too. Now I have this ton of guilt about scaring those guys so badly. I just hope they let me make it up to them somehow.

Oh, I wouldn't worry about that, Trevor. Don't forget, all the boys are spending the night. They'll probably run you and Marcus ragged being their errand boys. You'll be fetching everything from pizzas to Pepsis; giving back rubs and... well, you fill in the blanks here.

Don't be shy about writing me, ya hear? That's callmepaul@graaffiti.net And for quicker updates to the story, check out www.cornercafe.us And hey, I gotta web page now, too. It's http://paulschroder.bravehost.com I'll update the story there before anywhere else.

© 2007. No duplication without author's permission. No posting on another web site without approval. No--you don't need a regulation table to play pocket pool. Ya just need pockets! (Oh, and ya gotta be a boy!) And if you don't know how to play pocket-pool, ask your gym coach... he might teach ya... har, har, har!