It was a dark and quiet night, until ....

*****Another flash-from-the-past entry:

When I was 12 years old I moved on to the official Boy Scout Troop in my small town. There were a lot of boys my age and we had known each other all through school and church activities, and we generally had a lot of fun.

To make it even better, we had some really good leaders. We joked and played a lot, but we also got a lot of merit badges and other advancements done as well.

Now that I'm much older than 12, it's really neat to live in the same town as these two scout leaders and still get to see them at church, at the post office, the store, etc., and keep that friendship going after all these years.

Okay, enough background, on to the story.

The bunch of us scouts had the brilliant idea that we should toilet paper the house of one of our leaders. Each of us - as discreetly as possible - gathered up the necessary item from our homes and on the appointed night we met at the appointed time and began our work.

At the time of the event, our leader was living in a single wide at the rear of the property while he was self-building a stick built home closer to the road. This worked to our advantage because there was a lot of area that was hidden from view of the trailer and we accomplished some good papering.

Soon enough we had a decision to make - should we move closer to the trailer and decorate it as well, or just call it good? 12 year old discretion won out and we decided to continue.

Another scout and myself ended up on the little porch of the trailer, winding toilet paper around the railing, etc.

At some point, being up on the steps of the trailer or by some other means, our night-time fun was discovered by our scout leader, but we did not realize it until a short time later.

As mentioned, my position was on the front porch/step of the trailer, winding the railing. I recall looking up momentarily and seeing something cylindrical sliding out of a small window right next to the porch area that I was standing on.

Marveling at what I was seeing, it took several seconds to realize what this strange object was. When I did realize it, time for reaction had expired. The very next moment, before having a chance to sound an alarm of any sort, the relative silence of the night was shattered by a very large KABOOM!

Even though I had had a moments notice, the shock of a sudden loud noise and the accompanying bright flash caused me to loose control of my legs, and all of us - having a similar reaction - bolted away as fast as we could.

When we finally quit running we caught our breath, made sure all were accounted for, then had a bit of a laugh before we each returned to our respective homes.

The really interesting part is the conversation we had with our scout master the next time we were all together.

He described his part of the story, telling us how he had heard some slight noise outside and got up to investigate. He saw us outside, decorating his new home and yard, and he came up with his plan.

He went to his closet and pulled out his muzzle loader, opened his powder horn and he stated that he poured powder into the barrel until he was surprised that it didn't fill the whole thing up. He didn't put a bullet in, just the powder.

Then he carefully cocked the hammer, put a cap on the nipple and crept to the window just to the side of the front door. It being summer, the window was already open and he slid the barrel of the muzzle loader out of the window and pulled the trigger.

Knowing him quite well, I can only imagine the joy that filled his heart to see a group of 12 and 13 year old kids - shocked to their bones - jump and run as fast and as far as possible. If he had to clean up the toilet paper himself, might as well have something funny to think about while doing it.

You know, it's been a little while since we laughed over this memory together, I think I need to stop by soon and recollect again.