It started so innocently.
I was 11 years old, living in my suburban world of Richboro in the development of Tanyard Farms.
It was a quiet indian summer night, and word got to my brother and I that Paul was 'up to something' - which usually meant that we were going to pull some kind of prank.
Our pranks were so common that i'm amazed that my neighbors put up with it, but then again we were fairly good at not getting caught.
We used to have pranks on our sleepouts during that summer, but this one would end up differently.
Kevin and I showed up under the weeping willow tree on the backend of Steve T's house, around 7pm. Every property in our old development were interconnected, Steve T's house borders about 5 backyards, because of the position of his house on a cul-de-sac allowed for multiple neighbors to border his backyard.
A new family had moved into our development, a young father and mother along with their baby. They mostly kept to themselves, and weren't part of the "original families" that comprised the people who were the first time homeowners of the Toll Brothers homes.
This made them an outsider, and fair game to our pranks.
Paul was there with Steve T and with Steve B, one of those kind of kids who's career goals was to be a roadie with AC/DC. Steve B was the kind of kid who was shaving at 13, and always had a pack of Marlboro Reds on him. It was Steve B who was the first kid that taught me how to smoke a cigarette - only a few months before this.
"The timebomb is set.", Paul said.
"Timebomb?", I asked.
"Yea, take a lit cigarette, put a fuse from pack of firecrackers at the end of the cigarette, and put it by the back door. Once the cigarette burns down to the fuse...BOOM!", said a smirking Paul.
We waited a bit in silence under the weeping willow. Waiting for the firecrackers to explode, try to see if we get a reaction from the house and running off. Time passed slowly. Eventually we became anxious.
"Furey - go check out the timebomb.", Paul said, "It may have gone out. Just relight the cigarette if it went out.", and he handed me a lighter.
Now, this is one of those things that happen to kids all the time - peer pressure. I was 11. The other kids, Paul, Steve B and my brother were older. I, of course, wanted to prove myself to the older kids. Plus, I thought I was all sort of cool now that I knew how to smoke a cigarette.
After a moment of hesitation, I hopped the fence and in the twilight of a September dusk, I crept along the fence lined backyard. I approached the single family house, with its white aluminum siding, with a good deal of nervousness. I did see a light on, but didn't see anyone looking out the windows. They probably were watching Family Feud.
I got to the backdoor, which had a small concrete patio. To the side, off the patio, but under the kitchen window was a gas grill. I saw the timebomb, on the concrete and it looked like it may have gone out. I got closer and looked at the cigarette and the fireworks. I noticed that - no it didn't go out...why look...
The entire pack of firecrackers went off in my face.