It’s 7 P.M. and all is well.
Like many evenings before this one, I watch as the sun begins to set on the horizon, infusing a brilliant array of pink and orange into encroaching shades of navy blue. In the distance, I can hear children, laughing, playing, and singing. Like music to my ears.
Though it seems like a typical Sunday night, something feels a little off.
Across the street, my long-time neighbors Bob and Cindy are having a birthday party for their only son, Billy. There are kids everywhere. Doing cartwheels. Playing ball. Chasing each other around the yard. Bob and Cindy watch adoringly, as Billy appears to be having the time of his life on this, his special evening.
Soon, Bob’s loud voice breaks through the kids’ playful chatter. “Ok everybody, gather ’round the tree. We’ve got a surprise for the birthday boy!”
Immediately, a circle forms around the big oak in Bob’s front yard. All is quiet. Smiling, Bob reaches up into the tree to reveal Billy’s long awaited birthday surprise.
I can barely make out what’s going on. Then, Cindy switches on the flood lights. And I see it.
Out of the limbs of the big oak, a defenseless paper mache donkey hurtles toward the ground. It’s attached at the neck by a rope, which pulls taught under the weight of the animal and the candy it contains, just a few feet from terra firma. The poor donkey’s glitter-filled eyes almost remind me of tears.
Frozen with fear and disbelief, I can only watch as the horror unfolds mere yards from where I stand. I can almost hear the poor creature choking in agony.
The little demons break out into applause as Bob hands Billy his instrument of torture.
His first Louisville Slugger. It even has a bow on it.
“Ok buddy, you’re first!”
Almost immediately, as if supernaturally, my limbs regain functionality. Adrenaline flows through my veins like the mighty Mississippi. I can not allow this to happen.
“Nooooooo!!” I scream as I dash off the porch.
Like a Secret Service agent protecting his president, I dive in front of the bat just as Billy is about to connect with the donkey’s cute little head. I saved that donkey’s life. Even though he wasn’t really alive. Still, I consider myself a hero.
I on the other hand, probably had a concussion.
Wiping the grass of myself as I stood, I snatched the bat from Billy’s hands and attempted to break it over my knee, you know, like those tough guys do in the movies when they’re trying to prove a point.
Along with the concussion, I think I fractured my kneecap. Needless to say, Billy’s bat was still intact.
Groggily, I limped over to Bob. Looking him straight in the eye, I poked my finger in his chest.
“Dude, what the hell are you doing?” I say in a concussive tone. “Don’t you read Yahoo’s Associated Content?”
Bob just stared at me blankly.
“Bob, letting your kid break a pinata is wrong. It teaches them to hit stuff with bats, then rewards them
with candy when they finally knock its head off.”
I think Bob is getting ready to call the cops at this point.
“No, really man. I read it. Beating the crap out of a pinata can give your kids like PTSD or something. It teaches them to be greedy. Plus it’s immoral. I mean, hitting a defenseless little animal and all.”
Bob didn’t say a word. He just shook his head, and ushered the kids inside. Bob slammed the door behind him.
I flipped open my cell phone. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was on my speed dial. Standing there, I debated turning Bob in for his atrocities.
Then I flipped the phone closed.
“Ungrateful” I mumbled as I walked back across the street.
Every single one of them.