Basically, I’m an evil person. I have no doubt. Somewhere in my chromosomic configuration, I have the evil gene. Or genes. And how can one live in denial of his genetic structure?
I realize that some of my friends and followers may entertain a perception that I am a (somewhat) “nice guy,” but that only demonstrates my keen ability to keep my malevolent nature well concealed.
I’ve tried for decades to not only obscure my wickedness, but I have, in fact, tried to become less-than-evil. I am never fully successful. No matter how much of an effort I make—you know, I smile at people, perhaps say a kind word, do my best to avoid drop-kicking their yapping poodle—it seems I can never quite keep it bottled up.
One textbook example of my evility brutally erupted from my devious mind—as did the creature from the chest of John Hurt in Alien—over a scant few days, during a vacation to the home of my paternal grandparents in Southern Illinois. Actually, there are two examples here.
I can’t remember all of the family members who were included on this visit to their Midwest home, but I do recall that my parents made the trip as did I and my baby sister, Lisa. And Lisa was often the target of my evil shenanigans, for the most part because she was easy to prank. She was always, how do I say this politely? High-strung? Perhaps “overly exuberant” would be a better choice of words…
She is the youngest of our brood and was the tiniest. She may still be the smallest in stature. Have you seen those little Chihuahuas who have been bred so tiny that they’ve genetically removed any muscle strength and the poor little things constantly tremble? When she was a baby, that’s what she reminded me of. She was always talking so fast that I could only pick up a word or two, if I was lucky, in every other sentence. She was quite emotional and would react to any situation with… let’s say passion. And, despite her diminutive size, she had no issue with expressing her displeasure at a given situation with blood-curdling volume.
As we prepared for our vacation, what I knew was two things: Though she was now in high school, this would be the first time that Lisa had ever been on an airplane. And she was petrified. And the closer we came to the trip, the more outwardly nervous she became about the flight.
As with the majority of the most brilliantly evil actions in my life, the ones which were spontaneous rank among those at the top of the list.
Now the first one was easy and for it I should probably not take credit. We were at the airport with time to spare so we went to the restaurant to have some breakfast before boarding. Most of us were casually talking, conversing on nothing in particular. Once in a while I surreptitiously turned my gaze to Lisa. She didn’t add much, if anything, to the conversation. Her eyes were round and twice the size of her face and she quivered like the teacup sized puppy I just mentioned. The nervous energy she produced with her tremors could have powered a large light bulb.
My Mom, as she did on every occasion in our lives—even now when we’re adults—said, “OK, everybody go tinkle before we get on the plane.”
And it just popped out of me.
I said, “Oh yeah, Lisa. If you use the bathroom on the plane, be sure you’re not still sitting on it when you flush it or you’ll be sucked right out of the bottom.”
Had passersby glanced in her direction, they’d have thought that she was standing on an uninsulated electrical cord. He vibrating nervousness took on convulsive proportions and tears spewed from her eyes. No amount of public propriety could contain her wails and she collapsed into a heap, slowly dribbling from her chair onto the floor.
All I said was—!! Well. You know… Perhaps I’d misjudged Lisa’s potential reaction to my offhanded comment.
And somehow my mother blamed me for Lisa’s reaction! I caught her eye and she gave me that look that reached into my chest and squeezed the breath out of both lungs.
I don’t remember much after that. Somehow we blotted up Lisa from the floor and she made the flight without incident.
But on this particular vacation occurred an event that, within our family lore, refuses to die. And, if I do say so myself, it was a brilliant flash of inspiration. It popped into my head and no more than half a second later, I was moving to set my genius into motion.
My grandparents lived in a house that my grandfather had built, himself, in 1937, when my father was a boy. It was a simple two-bedroom home with an attic and a basement. The basement extended about two bricks above ground level and positioned in a few places around those bricks were tiny windows that let in some light and ventilation. There was a (no longer used) coal chute. The bin where the coal had been kept was now converted to a dry cellar for the jars of fruits and vegetables that my grandmother “put up” each summer. I remember in our earlier visits, she still had a washer with a ringer and in those days she’d take the clothes and hang them on a line to dry. By these modern times, there was a brand new washer and dryer in that basement.
The house sat on a large piece of land that was adjacent to acres of wooded land. Our family was out front visiting and enjoying the summer day. I was in the basement looking for Heaven knows what. Moments after I’d descended the stairs, I saw through the tiny windows at the top of the basement walls, Lisa’s feet go running past and her footfalls carried her to the bathroom.
The bathroom was simply laid out; a long rectangle. The sink was the centerpiece of a long counter along one side. Under the sink were cupboards and into the floor of those was cut a small hole, about one foot by eight inches. Through that hole, people tossed their dirty clothes and they landed in the basement in a laundry basket my grandmother had positioned below it.
As Lisa ran across the floor towards the bathroom, I glanced in the direction of that laundry basket and inspiration struck in Einsteinian splendor. On the floor nearby were two Playtex dish washing gloves. They were aqua-colored and my grandmother had used them for some painting project she’d had. So they were dribbled haphazardly with yellow paint that had dried upon them and hardened, making the gloves look like some sort of medieval claw. And, on a nearby supporting post, leaned a mop.
My feet were moving before the idea had fully crystallized in my mind. By the time Lisa had closed the bathroom door, I already had the mop in my hand and was soon positioning one of the old gloves onto the end. I dragged a step stool over and took two steps up. I extended the glove up through the hole and did my best to push the glove/mop handle against the below-the-sink cupboard door.
Since it was extended above me, it took some effort to get the door’s roller latch to disengage. Though it was harder to push open than I thought it would be, it worked to my advantage since, when latch ultimately disconnected with the coupler, she was by then standing at the sink and the door slowly swung open past her leg with a classic horror movie creak. Feeling something brush past her leg and hearing this puzzling noise, Lisa looked down and saw the slowly opening door and this hideous blue and yellow claw reaching out from under the sink.
And I mean screamed.
In about one second I’d retracted the glove and tossed it back to its place, set the mop back against the post, and went back to whatever I was doing.
Through the little window I heard my mother out in the front yard simply say, “Billy.”
She knew. Though she had no idea (for the moment) what had happened, my mother knew that a blood-curdling scream from Lisa could only be engendered in something I’d done.
Do they let you into Heaven if you mercilessly torture your little sister? I have this vision in my mind of climbing all the way up there and, as I approach the gates, meeting the eyes of St. Peter. Before I even inhale to speak, he holds up his palm and with the other hand he reaches under his lectern and pulls out this hideous looking blue and yellow Playtex glove and gives me a knowing grin.
Well, at least my next walk will be downhill…