‘You do this one.’ ‘I did the last one, you’re chicken anyway.’ ‘No I’m not!’ ‘Go on then.’ ‘One’s coming!’ The three boys peered on tiptoe out from their hiding place in the dark, cavernous sitting room, through the net curtains. The street outside was chilly and damp. Fresh raindrops glinted on the bodies of the cars that lined the road, yellow-gold in the deceptively warm glow from the street lamps. The headlights of the car approached. Bumping into things in the close, shielding darkness, the lads rushed to the front door. The house was on the end of a terrace, and the heavy door opened feet from the end of the alley that met the main road. ‘Let me through!’ hissed one as the three jostled for a good view of their mischief. ‘Now!’ called the one who’d run back to the sitting room to serve as lookout and target spotter. A well-weighted underarm lob sent the orange off towards its target.
All stealth forgotten in the thrill of perfect success, the front door was slammed shut hard. ‘Did you see that!’ ‘Right on the headlight! All over the bonnet and windscreen!’ Still in the cover of darkness (although for no real reason as this part of the house couldn’t be seen from the street) the boys raced up the stairs to the loft, pushing and taking swipes at each other’s feet as they ran. ‘Move! I wanna see.’ ‘They’ve gone, probably didn’t even notice.’ ‘I doubt that!’ ‘Next one’s your turn.’ ‘I’ll throw it from here.’ ‘Chicken!’ ‘Go on then!’ Back downstairs. A key turns in the lock and the big front door swings open. ‘Why are all the lights off?’ comes the shout from below. ‘We were just playing hide and seek.’ Fun’s over. For now.
A few hours later. ‘Are they asleep?’ ‘Think so. Me mam will kill us if she catches us.’ ‘Shhh! She won’t.’ They creep, ever so slowly, down the stairs, wincing with each creak of the floorboards. On towards the artillery locker, also known as the fridge. More projectiles to fly into the night.
Back up the stairs. Ever so slowly. Back to the loft to spot targets from high ground. ‘Look at him! Can’t remember what a straight line looks like!’ Carefully, silently, the window lifts. ‘Go on,’ in whispered tones. An orange is loosed into the cool, dark night, whose air carries the faint smell of the sea. The orange sails in an almost lazy arc to land and explode beside the drunk’s legs with a slapping pop. Poor bloke nearly jumps out of his skin. He wheels clumsily around.
By the time he’d be in any position to catch a glimpse of his stealthy attackers the window has been pulled down and closed.
The boys are laughing their heads off, as silently as possible, of course. The man angrily throws up an arm, as if to curse his tormentors, before turning to continue the journey home. ‘Here, give him an egg.’ Up goes the window again, and out flies an egg into the night. This missile falls well short of its target, but still creates great comedy for the boys to watch as the reveller casts drunkenly about, shouting bloody murder with the clear intention of killing whoever is responsible for harrassing him. Of course, this danger makes the mischief all the more fun.