Flaming Trick Shots

My dad used to have a barrel that he’d burn leaves in, scrap wood, miscellaneous other junk in. He’d throw the stuff in there, pour some gasoline in (or maybe lighter fluid, I dunno. S’all the same, isn’t it?) and light it up through a hole in the side.

It was a cool thing, when I was a kid. Not for any profound reason, mind. Just, y’know, because it was a big can of fire in my backyard. When you’re a kid, fire is cool. Big cans of fire are big cans of cool.

I used to try and stare as directly into the can as possible, without getting a face full of smoke. Stupid, I guess, but it was a hell of a thing to see in there. It’s the changes, y’know? Seeing newspapers or leaves or whatever change and shrink and blacken. The appeal of the can might not have been profound, but staring into it was, sometimes.

That might’ve just been my brain getting smoke-choked, though.

Anyway, staring into it wasn’t even the stupidest thing I did with the can. Oh no.

See, I used to have a slingshot. Used to; it was my brother’s, a hand-me-down, and I used it religiously until it disappeared somewhere into my dad’s house. I used to take these tiny crabapples, about the size of Skittles or M&Ms, and use that for ammo. Didn’t shoot anything alive, mind; I’d just fire endless rounds at the big tree back and to the left from the can.

And sometimes…well, this is stupid, but sometimes what I’d do is dunk the apples in my dad’s can of flammable liquid whatever and shoot them through the flames. Not into the can, but over it, at the tree, through the flames that’d shoot out the top. The idea being that it would be completely freaking awesome if the soaked apples ignited on their way to the tree.

Not a single one did, and that’s probably for the best, but…man. It would’ve been awesome.

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Josh Hechinger is a future writing superstar/cautionary tale. He lives in Pennsylvania.

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