I was around 9 or 10 years old, an innocent age if there ever was one. Full of sweet naivete and yet old enough to want to grow up and be complex and mature and knowledgeable of the ways of the world.
Scrawny and tall for my age, I had thick brown hair with big front teeth that protruded slightly. My two front teeth also had a rather large gap between them, like Michael Strahan but without his appeal. Think more along the lines of the appeal of a early Steve Buscemi who couldn't act and never got his SAG card stamped.
I lived next to a small but affluent church that bordered on being a cult in the small town I called home. One of those churches where people shouted and ran around the church, cast out the devil and wore outdated clothes all in the name of religion. They also got filled with the holy ghost, which I found odd, as I never saw any church members filled anywhere but the church, so I assumed the holy ghost was like a gas station and you went to the church to get filled. After all, I never saw anyone get "filled" at the local hardware store or at the goodwill shop.
The pastor's son, who is long since dead so I don't think it matters if I share this story. He was a good friend of mine, and by good friend I mean he hung out with me when none of his other friends were around as he had lots of friends and I had very few. Plus, there was an age gap of about 5 years so it was not cool to hang out with a little kid my age.
At any rate, the pastor's kid was popular, he was handsome, charismatic, both in the theological sense and in the personality sense. He had girls in his front and back pocket. He was a small town James Dean.
Being popular always nets you plenty of followers, both adult and child along with kids your own age. Adults adore you and think too much of you, children worship you and your own peers want to be just like you in every way. So he was everything to me and I was nothing to him as I would find out the older I got.
I was the frequently the butt of jokes that I didn't understand until years later. Jokes where he would simply be crass or cruel because he could be that way and get away it.
Like the time I got left alone in the woods after I got off the 4 wheeler when he went too fast. I got picked up after 15 terrifying minutes by myself and was so angry I refused the ride and walked home. I thought he and his friends would get into trouble. Little did I know that he was the pastor's son and the pastor of this church carried a Jim Jones like persona and could do no wrong. Even if I told my dad, who attended said church, about the horrible incident, he would never speak up for me and right the wrongs that were done to me. I always assumed he would.
Or the many other times that he lied to me for no other reason than to be cruel. The time I caught him and another friend watching a porno and he tried to explain it away as a "anatomy documentary". There are too many too list and the list is quite painful so I'll leave those examples as enough to suffice.
One day, in the early evening, late Fall so that it was just getting to the cusp of being winter, I was playing around the back of the church. The pastor's son was hanging out with an older teenager right on the edge of being an adult, he was caught in the sway of this effervescent popularity. This older teenager happened to be the trouble making son of my dad's best friend, who was another cult follower of the pastor.
We were shooting off fireworks as I remember, it was a small town with not much to do and this was a frequent activity. However, we had run out of targets, we usually used each other or stray cats or squirrels. Or we would make home made targets and see who could get closest.
Suddenly and very much without my permission the older boy, who was roughly 6 feet tall and a stocky 200 pounds give or take, picked me up along with the pastor's son and shoved me into the church dumpster. It was at the end of the hill leading away from the back of the church towards the graveyard, isolated. I thrashed and kicked, thinking it was a joke at first. It was not a joke and then as I look back on it I realize that it was a joke just not to me but it was very much a joke to the both of them. I was then wrangled into the dumpster and they both immediately took up sides and pinned the exits and held down the top flip cover. The dumpster was quite big for a 9 year old kid. There was, of course, trash, not much but enough for me to not want to be in there. The next thing that happened was funny to the both of them and terrifying to me. The fireworks that were left over were lit and thrown into the dumpster and the sides were slammed shut. So the bottle rockets, which is mainly what we had left, began shooting around the dumpster, ricocheting off the walls and barely missing me each time.
This went on for what seemed like forever. I banged on the walls and begged to be let out. I yelled and no one came to my rescue. After the last of the fireworks were thrown in I heard the two of them laughing hysterically and running away, leaving me alone in the dumpster.
The night was descending, streetlights were soon to come flickering on and I would be called for supper soon. I sat still for several minutes, surrounded by exploded firecrackers and garbage. I flipped the heavy lid of the dumpster after several tries and climbed out.
Well...at least I wasn't hurt.