It was a perfect night to launch an attack.
Summertime, with its hot and humid conditions, had inflamed the tempers of the parents and other grownups. The kids vented their own frustrations destructively, quickly retaliating against each nocturnal siege on their fort by their staunch enemies.
A swamp separated the two fortresses, dank and slimy, infected with hungry mosquitoes and floating algae, but passable. The Knights were pledged to defend their honor by administering ’eye for an eye’ justice against The Rebels (and visa versa). Several midnights ago, their foes had painted obscenities and graphic graffiti on the tree trunk and rough timber that framed their club’s tree house, although they had failed to gain entry into the secret inner round table, chains and locks withstanding the onslaught of pummeling and hammering . . .
“Skink, blacken your face—it’s your turn to scout. Torrance, slide those bags of manure onto the raft,” Knight CEO Vince, demanded, “Waiting the extra week to git our revenge might have weakened The Rebels' watch.”
“Come, comrades! Keep the noise down and follow me!” Skink led the furtive procession, mounting the raft from the slippery bank bordering the swamp’s darkest recesses.
On and on, back and forth, these two warring factions had assaulted each other, many times gleaning fresh ideas from the feuding adults at each other’s throats over boundary lines, disputes, crop failures and imagined insults. It was just fortunate that these evolving generations were more civilized now, no killings occurring in decades.
“Skink, is the coast clear?”
“Shhhh! Shut up, will ya?”
Torrance, impatient as usual, elbowed his way in front of the others, disembarking from the tipsy raft, weaving like a drunken sailor. Things were quiet--too quiet. The Knights had intended to catch their foes during The Rebels’ nightly Ouija board séance, but it seemed they had missed them.
“Ambush, ya think?”
“Naw, they’d of been on top of us by now. Hey, will ya look at that: their gate’s open!”
“There’s no locks or chains, either—wha-da-ya think they’re up to?”
The Knights stealthily crept up the unguarded rope ladder leading up to the equally unguarded tree house. And, like mice sniffing suspiciously at a trap’s cheese, they approached the open doorway, gradually stepping over the threshold. Surprise rendered them speechless for some seconds while they took in the tableau before them.
“What gives?” squeaked out Tommy, the most suspicious of their number.
Their stupefied gazes took it all in as they slowly scanned the premises: A festive card table spread with a red-checkered tablecloth, clean paper plates, cups, and napkins with little name cards next to each fork that bore each of The Knights’ names. In the center was a heaping plate of tempting chocolate brownies generously frosted with dripping white icing and standing next to it, a large pitcher of cold milk.
Tiny, who never ceased to amaze the others with his veracious appetite, reached across the table to dip his finger in a puddle of frosting.
“Don’t touch it, you dope! It’s probably laced with arsenic or something!” Tommy shouted.
“Hey—there’s a note,” Skink opened it and read aloud, “Knights! This is NOT an ambush or a trik. We are tired of fightin’. Want to be friends, instead?”
Tiny’s hand shot out faster than the Lone Ranger’s speeding bullets to grab the nearest brownie, popping the whole thing in his mouth.
“Wha-da they mean, friends? Impossible! Our old mans would have our hides, for sure”, Torrance exploded.
“Listen! I hear The Rebels comin’!”
The group scattered in an instant, and simultaneously noticing Tiny was still standing, stuffed their pockets with brownies on the way out. But, The Rebels were already half way up the ladder—and they were dressed up in clean clothes--and SMILING!
“Well, will ya look what the wind brought in—a bunch of sissified Bible-toting priscies! Where ya been, guys? To Sunday School?” Skink snickered.
“Better than that,” Rebel leader Andy declared, “we went to something called Vacation Bible School. Why don’t you can come with us tomorrow and see? They got snacks and crafts and singin’ and stories, and everything! We bin goin’ all week. Uh, sorry about messin’ up your fort—we’d like to clean it for ya.”
So began the biggest miracle in the feuding families’ histories as the adults slowly followed their children’s lead:
Reconciliation instead of retribution,
Healing instead of wounding,
Loving instead of hating,
Peace instead of war.
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