My brother Eddie has always marched to a different beat of the drum than most of us.
In school everybody liked Eddie because he was the class clown.
He is one of those kind of people that if you are around him for any length of time, he will make you laugh.
Although he was a clown most of the time, there were a few times that he would get serious.
I remember once we were building a fort in the woods behind our house.
It was one of those cowboy forts like you saw in Westerns on television.
We cleared out an area in the dense trees probably 30 by 30 feet and started laying the trees we had cut down as the base of our little fort.
There were always plenty of kids in the neighborhood our age and it wasn’t long before we had a pretty good size fort in the making.
After we got the fort built it was time to divide up into Cowboys and Indians (this is not going to be politically correct from this point forward in the story).
Eddie wanted to be one of the Indians and I wanted to be a cowboy, so we ended up on opposite sides of the great battle that proceeded.
Those of us in the fort were determined not to let the Indians win.
The battle went on for several hours and we were called to supper.
It was decided the great fort battle would continue after we ate.
Gathering back up an hour later it was discovered Eddie was missing.
Of course, I spent much of my childhood finding Eddie, and I wanted to be in on the big battle that was soon to start.
“He’ll show up,” I told the other boys. “Let’s start without him.”
So the battle began as feverously as it had ended before supper.
What I did know was that Eddie had waited until after I had left and slipped into the kitchen.
He has always had a fascination with fire and so he grabbed a pack of matches out of the cupboard and slipped out the back door.
Eddie remembered, he said later, a Western on TV where the Indians set fire to the fort and thought it was a pretty good idea.
During the heat of the battle I saw smoke coming from the back of the fort.
We cowboys looked at each other and gave up the fight and hightailed it out of the fort.
Needless to say, it became a nice-sized fire in just a few minutes.
Thankfully, we had cleaned out around the fort.
One of the mothers saw the bonfire, and since we were not supposed to be building such a thing, she came running.
In a few minutes all the mothers and a few of the fathers were there and it was decided to call the fire department.
No one was hurt. Eddie got a pretty good spanking for that one, especially after I explained in detail how he had nearly burned me up.
The woods around that fort were still charred when I graduated from high school and I wish I could say that the fort was Eddie’s last fire, but that is for another story