Spitball Snipers

Free use photo from Pixabay.com

By Mike Johnson

Fifty years ago, my buddy and I were swimming in time, paper route money and mobility.
But we were drowning in immaturity and rascal-ism.

Having the strictest father, I was chained to the straight and narrow when trapped at home.
But come summer, I was free dawn 'til supper.
I released the tautness of obedience with occasional pranks.
A bike brought me into direct contact with many temptations.

The fanciest department store within bike range was Powers.
Two stories of haughtiness tall, with both an escalator and an elevator.

In a tiny corner of the jewelry department, a watchmaker worked his trade.
From the escalator, we could see into his cubicle.
He was always bent over his bench, looking through his jeweler’s loupe, operating on some intricate watch with tweezers and precision tools.

The perfect target.

My buddy and I loaded our straws outside the store.
We positioned our bikes for a fast getaway.
Snipers on a mission, we pretended to be wandering shoppers before stepping onto the escalator.

Only the bottom half of the up-escalator was visible to the watchmaker if he turned around.
Once we passed the wall halfway up, we were invisible.
Our timing had to be as precise as his tools.

We had about 8 seconds to acquire our target, aim at his exposed neck and fire the spitballs.
Perfect to plan, we disappeared from sight a millisecond after our projectiles hit skin.

God, we laughed. But had to keep it silent.
We walked briskly to the elevator, took it to the ground floor, exited the store and escaped on our bikes.

NOW we let those laughs out. And regaled each other with our heroic shooting.

This would never work today.
Too many cameras.
Much less naivety and trust.
Life experience and TV crime shows have trained people to be their own detectives.

Back then, we were too young and stupid to realize we were lucky to escape.

Obviously, the angle of the shots came from the up-escalator.
Which means the shooters were somewhere on the second floor.
And had to come down to escape the store.
As the watchmaker scanned customers as suspects, two kids alone in a department store would be obvious.
Just stakeout the exit points and you’d catch the juvenile delinquents.

Amazingly, we succeeded with that sniper mission more than once.
Never got caught.

Maybe that watchmaker was smarter than we knew. Perhaps he found our harmless guile amusing. Maybe he LET us get away.

But just in case, what’s the statute of limitations on spitball sniping?



Karma for my spitballing: No Cigar

Another childhood lesson: 88 Cents

Paper routes saved my life: Love Your Kids? Make Them Work


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