International Writers Magazine: Childhood Menace - From Our Archives
John M Edwards
Eye, Red Eye, thats the name. Catch the red spike, and win
TV commercial jingle from the 1970s
Back in the days when I ate TV dinners in a partially flooded
basement, watching, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
and Land of the Giants, while my folks played the
board-game Acquire upstairs and guzzled frothies,
I realized that only one thing counted in this world: games. -
Lots of them.
Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. Slippery Slide. We bought baseball cards
for the gum, and gave the cards away while flipping. Even close friends
werent averse to snatching my Hot Wheels. Airplane models were
to be built and painted by Dad, then displayed on the bookshelf
with games I rarely played: Parchesi, how do you play that? I wanted
Somehow one Christmas, while listing everything
I wanted on reams of yellowed notepad paper, when I expressed mild interest
in a very dangerous-looking toy, resembling the vengeful molten ball
of a medieval mace, my dad actually succeeded in finding one. Of course,
my dad was innocent and unmindful of the eldritch weapon he was handing
over to his own son.
Right across the street, the flaming shadow
of the missing mansion entered our dreams. Old Man Hatchets place.
Which was obviously the inspiration for the Adams Family comics (Charles
Adams lived in the next town over). I stayed up late at night shivering
with fear about a single episode of One Step Beyond.
Some of the older neighborhood kids could actually succeed in throwing
a baseball, or a snowball, or an apple, or a rock, with deadly aim at
some of the younger and more defenseless victims in our neighborhood.
Why is it that anything can take your eye out?
With a Wacky Packages grin, I greedily unwrapped
the Red Eye, this nightmare alternative to the football: a spheroid
satellite studded with spikes! No seven-year-old plays Candyland.
Weapon in hand, I trudged down the block, feeling like Warren Oates
playing the Cyclops on the Outer Limits, to test my new
toy on one of the more gullible members of our block, whom the older
kids referred to as Tuschy. He had a bunch of older stepbrothers
with boxes of magazine containing irresistible pulps, such as Famous
Monsters of Filmland, Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. One of his brothers
worked for a TV station in New York, which produced Chiller,
wherein a horror film is introduced by an animated hand rising up from
a pool of blood with six fingers.
Anyway, he was used to being picked on.
Much larger than me, with Country Club-blond hair but good-naturedly
fearful of any physical contact, he at first seemed reluctant to play,
to catch it. After explaining the rules of the game--easy enough, all
you have to do is catch this hard yellow plastic ball by the red spikehe
seemed just this close to being tricked yet once again. Yes, you win
if you can do that. I cruelly convinced him to be the target of my first
Bam! He ran off bawling to tell his mother. I had been planning revenge
on my friend ever since the day he peed on my brand-new shoes behind
the garage. I went inside, feeling a little despondent, and played the
board-game Dark Shadows with my older sister. She smiled evilly when
© John Edwards May 2008
John M. Edwards has traveled worldwidely (five continents plus),
with misadventures ranging from surviving a ferry sinking in Thailand
to being caught in a military coup in Fiji.
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