43. The Sleepover War

43. The Sleepover War

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters

The Sleepover War

A friend is a brother who was once a bother.

~Author Unknown

My sister Heidi and I couldn’t have been much different growing up. She was smart, organized and somehow managed to still have fun despite these things. I was an utterly disorganized slob, and whenever I could I sought revenge against Heidi for being so damned good at everything. Boy, was she ever tough to annoy! She knew my game better than I did. I tried the typical ways a younger brother might annoy his older sister whom he secretly admires. I’d try, for instance, to follow her everywhere. To counter this, she put a lock on her door, and spent a good deal of time in her room. If she walked to the store, I tried to follow her, but she’d always simply run. She was very fast, and I could never keep up with her.

Heidi was disgusted by me, as she well should have been. I was, after all, her younger brother, and I maintained as squalid a standard of living as I could get away with. Anything that took away from my video game playing time was avoided as much as possible, including school, hygiene and chores. Of course, my parents would eventually force me to stop playing games when my eyes were shot through with crimson, and I looked like the very zombies I was trying to kill in my games. When I couldn’t play games, my next favorite way to pass the time was to harass Heidi. And it just so happened that Heidi was having a massive sleepover party for her tenth birthday. Five friends were sleeping over, and from the way Heidi talked, she wanted to make a good impression on them. Five against one: I was going to need help.

I enlisted the help of my best friend Jason. Jay was well-versed in the art of guerrilla warfare. He was two years older than me, in Heidi’s grade, in fact. He had a paper route, and he sometimes had to employ his substantial abilities to sabotage his non-paying newspaper customers. He came over early in the day, and we spent our time planning and fortifying the base of operations, which was my bedroom. We stockpiled canned food (while forgetting the can opener), built a fortress inside my room by arranging the dresser, desk, and bed into a wall, and prepared the equipment we’d use for our assault.

Around five o’clock, girls started showing up, and Jay went into action. While I sat angelically on the couch, Jay offered to take the girls’ backpacks upstairs as soon as they arrived. I snuck upstairs, too, and Jay began rifling through the bags. I tied pull-string firecrackers to Heidi’s dresser drawers and her hope chest. I also pulled her Barbies out of the closet and arranged them on the bed. With luck, they’d think she still played with them.

We retired to my room to play video games while waiting for the girls to leave the kitchen so we could enact the next phase of our plan. But my Nintendo’s AC adapter was gone. I searched my whole room, but found nothing. Heidi. I went downstairs to ask my parents when I saw Heidi looking at me. She never looked at me. If anything, she stared directly above my head when talking to me, but she hardly ever made purposeful eye contact. I walked over to her. She leaned down to me and whispered:

“As long as you don’t mess with me, I’ll give you back your precious video game cord tomorrow morning. You pull anything, and you’ll never find it.”

Damn, she was good. But I was too proud to be treated this way. I’d find the video game cord and get my revenge at the same time. The girls filtered upstairs, and Jay passed them on the way down with my backpack. In the backpack was the girls’ underwear. Once my parents were out of the kitchen, we ran all the underwear under the faucet, and then placed each pair in the freezer.

When we went back upstairs, Heidi’s door was open. Her door was never open, so this meant trouble. She came out and said, “You’re never going to get that cord back now. Did you go through my friends’ bags?”

“No, I swear I didn’t.”

“You’re such a liar,” she said.

“Jay did,” I said. “And they won’t get their underwear back unless I get my cord.”

“I’ll tell Dad!” she said.

“I’ll tell Dad you have my cord.”

She pursed her lips, and I knew that dangerous sign. God gave Heidi that mannerism for the same reason he gave rattles to rattlesnakes. I ran into my room and turned to her, saying, “At eight o’clock, we’ll do a switch at the top of the steps.”

Just then, I heard a bang and a scream from Heidi’s room. One of her “friends” was looking through her drawers apparently.

I showed up at the top of the steps at eight with a big smile. I had their underwear alright. Jay was armed, positioned in my doorway to provide covering fire. Heidi’s door opened. Wrapped around her fist was my cord. Her eyes went wide.

“What the hell!” she yelled.

I heard my dad yell from downstairs: “Language, Heidi!”

At my feet was all the underwear except one Strawberry Shortcake pair. Heidi’s. They were all frozen solid, stiff as cardboard. I saw her friends skulking behind her. They shrieked and giggled when they saw what had become of their underwear. Heidi pounced. She punched me hard on the arm and shoved me against the wall while her friends flooded around me and grabbed the underwear off the floor. Jay launched spoonfuls of sour cream at them, forcing them to retreat with their underwear. They’d got it all back, and Heidi still had my cord.

Luckily, I had a military genius on my side. “It’s time to go nuclear,” he told me. I nodded, but I had no idea what he meant.

He sent me downstairs for a brown paper bag. When I got back upstairs, he had my father’s shaving cream. He sprayed the entire can of shaving cream into the bag so that it was completely full. He then laid the bag on its side and slid the opening of it beneath my sister’s door. He looked at me, smiled, and then stomped with all his might on the bag with both feet. There was screaming, then incredulous laughter, and the door opened slowly. It looked as if someone had discharged a fire extinguisher in her room.

Jay and I didn’t stop laughing, even when we were on our backs being punched and kicked, the victims of ten-year-old girl rage. The experience was the closest Jay and I had been to women yet. We decided maybe they weren’t so bad after all.

Nowadays, Heidi and I are best friends, and her organization and intelligence served her well. Instead of investigating my pranks, she now investigates workman’s compensation fraud. Woe to any lawbreakers who think they’re going to outsmart that woman.

~Ron Kaiser, Jr.

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