The Magnificent Seven – Vin (Steve McQueen): “It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, ‘Why?'”
Sitting around the cabin one night at Scout Camp, ten boys cramped into a tiny space in the woods, swapping stories by flashlight, telling truths and risking dares, we began to play a game. It was a simple game that required only three things: bug spray, a lighter, and nerves. Whichever scout’s turn it was would line the palm of their hand with a small amount of bug spray and then spark it aglow. It wasn’t a natural fire, burning fluorescent blue in the dim light, and it was fascinating to watch the chemicals burn for a few seconds before the heat started to get uncomfortable. Then a quick slap of the hands or a brush against a pant leg and the flames were extinguished. It was simple as that, and then it was the next scout’s turn.
Round and round we went. Each taking up the dare and risking the challenge. Each pushing the limits and seeing how long they could last before fear, and pain, settled in and they frantically slapped away the small flames. We were young, and fire held a powerful sway over us, and eventually the dares escalated. It was inevitable.
So it was, the we lit one poor scout’s feet on fire. Yes, feet. He stood there for as long as he could and we all watched in awe of his bravery and resolve until it dawned on him that it might be trickier to put out those particular flames. (Later he would say it was when he felt the bug spray flames dripping between his toes that he finally gave in to panic.) He took off in a flash, out the cabin doors and dashing for the lake, for relief, for some sort of freedom from our temporary insanity.
Luckily he wasn’t hurt and he didn’t set the forest on fire in the process, but I will never forget the look on his face the moment before he sprinted out of the cabin, the image of his blue glowing feet disappearing into the darkness, or the sound of the remaining nine of us bursting into laughter so fierce we brought ourselves to tears.
Why, you ask? Why would we do such a foolish thing and laugh about it?
Vin: “He said, ‘It seemed to be a good idea at the time.'”
Word Count: 447
This is my second contribution to Yeah Write. I’m hoping you all got a laugh out of it.