“Here comes a car,” my brother, Clark, said as the four of us ducked behind the bushes.
Utah’s motto is “The Best Snow on Earth”. Bountiful, Utah, where my grandparents lived, had some of the best snow in Utah. And since their house was halfway up the mountain, the snow at their house was even better than the rest of the area. At least that’s how I remember it when I was seven years old.
“On the count of three,” my cousin, Aaron, said.
“One,” my cousin, Nathan, said.
“Two,” I said.
“Three!” Clark said.
The four of us jumped up and let the snowballs fly. We had fun hitting cars as they went by. Some cars shook their fists, but most people seemed to enjoy getting pelted. One car drove back and forth, back and forth, just so we could hit him over and over again.
“Where did all the cars go?” Aaron asked.
For some reason, after a steady stream of cars, they just stopped coming by. Still, we sat crouched behind Grandpa’s neatly trimmed bushes… waiting. The problem with that, though, is that warm hands plus loosely packed snowball plus time equals… ice ball. That’s right- ice balls instead of snowballs. So when the man in the dark blue van came driving down Davis Blvd, past Grandpa’s house, instead of hearing “Splat splat splat splat”, we heard, “bang bang bang crash!”
“ Run!” Aaron yelled. “It broke a window!”
I’m not sure who threw the last ice ball, other than it wasn’t me. In the time that it took the blue van to flip around, we were already heading down the hill. We jumped the fence at the back corner of Grandpa’s yard and ducked out of sight until the blue van went screaming past us. Our escape was perfect… except for one thing. There were only three of us ducking into our corner of the yard and there were four of us throwing snowballs. Clark didn’t see the rest of us jump the fence, so he kept running down down down the hill, the same direction that the van was now going.
It was only a matter of minutes before Clark showed up through the back door, though, but time already runs slower for a seven year old than it does for the rest of the world. And when a seven thinks his brother is as good as dead, time moves even slower.
We weren’t out of the clear yet, though. Ohhhh no. Every minute that went by helped calm my nerves, but I was certain that the doorbell was going to ring at any moment. After failing to clear my mind of the incident, I couldn’t help but peek out the living room curtains toward the corner where a few small mounds of snowballs still sat near our hiding places. And there it was, driving about three miles per hour, inching its way through the neighborhood. The man in the blue van was still searching for the four troublemakers. Every ten minutes or so
I checked to see if he was still there, and every ten minutes I saw him… stalking, inching along, scanning, searching.
Since he never rang the doorbell, we assumed he didn’t know where we were. As long as we were hidden behind the red bricks of Grandpa’s walls, we were safe. Nervous, but safe.
“Time to go,” Dad said.
Go? Go where? Why? My eyes whipped around. I had forgotten that we were all planning to go to the store together. Our family van was parked right out in the open. Mr. Crazy-Van-Man was still circling the block just like he had been for the last two hours looking for us, driving at idle speed. So Clark and I peeked out of the garage in every direction before sprinting toward our Volkswagen Vanagon. The last time I saw the blue window-less van was as we drove away that afternoon. Clark and I slumped down in our seats as we drove right past him. There he was still stalking, inching along, scanning, and searching for us. And now that my parents know, I’m too old for them to punish me. True story.