We just wanted to have fun. We didn’t realize we were about to wage the final Battle in the Skies death match.
Jesse and I went up to Anger Age hill to fly our kites like we’d always done on those blustery end of April days. Those were the best times because the clear blue skies and fast-moving white clouds made our kites come to life, made them seem to fly higher and faster. I had my pirate kite and Jesse had his box kite. We both had yards and yards of string with which to command our Air Forces.
After a half hour of clear flying, Jesse suggested that we have kite wars. I’d lost many a pirate kite to Jesse but he too had suffered his fair share of casualties.
“First one grounded is the loser!” Jesse yelled as he broke into a run to raise his kite to a higher elevation.
I ran behind him, a pirate mascot laugh threatening his imminent destruction.
My Jolly Roger kite of white skull and cross bones on a black background, took to the skies before his bulkier kaleidoscope-colored box kite. I patrolled the area, daring Jesse to try to take my piece of heaven from me. He dared and soon his box kite fluttered a few feet away from mine and menaced from below.
We kamikaze dive-bombed our kites, out for blood, winner took all. For a while, Jesse’s Box had the upper hand, but my Jolly Roger, known for its craftiness, didn’t suffer defeat lightly. It flew up and under the Box, its upper point barreling into the side of victim.
Jesse shrieked, “Curses! I’ll get you my pretty!” He lowered the Box about ten feet then ran to my left. A large gust of wind rolled in from the south and took the Box high, high into the air. Jesse must have smelled victory because he let our an evil “Muhahahahaha” and ran toward me.
I reeled in Jolly Roger, tried to avoid the long bottom spikes of the Box but the Box could make quicker direction changes than Jolly Roger.
“I hate you, Jesse!” I yelled. I ran to my left, let out at least ten feet of string but relentlessness must have hitched its wagon to Jesse’s spirit that day.
“I’m coming to get you, you scabby pirate!” He laughed maniacally and let out the Box to come from beneath Jolly Roger for a kill shot. The Box impaled Jolly and within seconds the ol’ pirate was no more.
“Dang Jesse,” I’d whined, “Did you have to rip it?”
“I show no mercy to pirates. You know that.” He smiled and let the Box fly high to do a victory lap. Caught up in his smug jaunt around the top of the Anger Age hill, he flew the Box perilously close to the power lines at the far south side.
“Jesse! Watch the lines!” I shouted to him from where I eulogized Jolly’s shredded remains. He nodded but kept running.
I screamed as the Box snagged and tangled on one of the power lines. When the line pulled taut, Jesse tumbled to the ground in a face plant befitting of the braggart he was. Jesse sat up and laughed, the string tightly clutched in his hand. He’d lost the Box and I’d lost Jolly Roger, but we both laughed all the same.
Until the electricity, like a frightening blue snake from hell, leaped down the string and bit Jesse with its lethal bite Jesse flew into the air and landed a few feet from the smoking sneakers he’d left behind.
I said goodbye to my best friend three days later. His mother let me put a brand new box kite in the coffin with him. I knew he’d have the best kite-flying skies in heaven and wouldn’t want to miss out.
His parents sued the city for a million dollars and won. The city replaced the Anger Age sign with a fresh one that said, “Danger High Voltage” and beside that a new one that said, “Jesse Levine Memorial Park”. Below that, the city posted a list of rules for the park–no unleashed dogs, no alcohol, no motorcycles and no kite-flying.
I know Jesse on his cloud in heaven must have laughed and laughed that the Box was the last champion of Anger Age hill. I laughed knowing that I painted a Jolly Roger on the side of the box kite he took with him.