Little Danny stepped up to get his sled. His cousin Brian stepped up with him onto the other track as the two prepared to rocket into the record books on the “Alpine Slide”. And to think that only an hour ago they were getting ready to just run around Gram and Gramps whacking the bee tree and waiting for someone to get stung.
This was way cooler than that.
Not that the bee tree thing wasn’t interesting. Every year that giant pine tree was humming with hornets, and they were all around the house, and everywhere in the yard. There were no popsicles in peace or ice cream cones in the occasional calm. The sugar would bring-em. You’d be stung for sure.That’s why it was starting to get interesting. Someone was probably getting stung, and each boy was pretty sure it was going to be the other, but neither really cared. It happened every year, a few times anyway.
It had started with “Go run around the tree twice and then back to the porch,” progressed to three-times around, and even to the next difficulty level: taking the thin, yellow, wiffle-ball bat and whacking the tree before dashing back to the porch. That’s when the hornets became more interested. Up until then, whichever waited on the enclosed front porch would see a wisp of hornets pull away the way smoke above a candle does when your hand passes through. A few hornets would trail after briefly and then return to the tree. The bat was another story. A handful came all the way to the door and almost made it in before the runner closed the door. It was a whack-run-watch as hornets tapped and bounced off the glass of the porch door.
Still, it just seemed not quite dangerous enough for a couple men like them. They climbed onto roofs. They dumped entire pixie sticks into their mouths and washed it down with the sting of ice-cold Coca Cola. They snuck beers and cigars. They let Grandma drop them off at weekend bible camp, but only because it was a chance to sneak away from campfires and songs and into the woods with church girls.
So they decided the real danger from bees and such might only be elevated to the level of their courage if they smelled more flower-like during their assaults on the bee tree. Before they could thoroughly douse themselves with their grandfather’s green, Skin-Bracer aftershave (that being the most smell-good thing a couple stinky boys could think of) the call to load up into the family wagon came. They were heading to Song Mountain and the Alpine Slide!
Which brings us forward in time to Little Danny, atop his sled, at the top of the mountain, ready to ride that Alpine Slide.
People have had to be airlifted away from this ride! Little Danny thought. Which is probably why the teenage kid at the top did the safety thing he did every single time to every single person, probably every year Little Danny had been coming. How to stay on the track, don’t stop in the middle, how to push the lever forward to go faster, how to pull back to…
Little Danny pushed off fast before Safety Boy could finish. Sure he was probably five or six years older, 18 tops, but he clearly didn’t know how big boys played!