Sometimes they come back

It’s not that I go out looking for a fight. Sometimes the fight comes to me. I feel like a retired gunslinger in an old Western.

When the new guy reaches for his holster, I can’t turn my back. I have to shoot him down, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Years ago when we were cocky, young teachers with an attitude, my husband and I made a proclamation —no student would ever roll our yard on Halloween.

They tried. We won.

Having previously defended our fortress with a water hose and the low, moaning growls of a faux Doberman, we were confident we could thwart any misguided plans.

We didn’t count on Darryl T.

Darryl T was a student in my homeroom, a good-natured young man who possessed a tenacious spirit that refused to be beaten.

He challenged. I smirked.

“You don’t stand a chance, boy.”

He wore a smile, but underneath his pleasantries I knew he was mad. His rosy red cheeks were his tell.

The stars made their appearance shortly after dusk, and then the chilly temps set in, reminding us to dress appropriately in black sweats and a jacket so that we could blend in with the night and stay warm. We turned off the lights and hid the car in the backyard. We assumed our positions. Kenny took look-out from the rooftop. I remained low and hid behind the shrubbery. He manned the water hose. I knelt beside a bucket of water balloons.

We wanted to lure the suckers in.

It worked. Ever so often, a carload of hoodlums pulled up. We let them toss a roll or two, and then we ambushed them, soaking them down and sending them back to their cars like drowned rats.

But first we took their toilet paper, the spoils of war. Hey, tissue ain’t cheap, and teachers ain’t rich. We stockpiled for leaner days.

Then along came Darryl T, a one-man TPing machine.

He was confident and prepared. I think he had strapped a Charmin arsenal on his back. We let him toss, oh, maybe a dozen rolls. Then we made him clean it up. We sent him home, defeated. The night wore on, and we had school the next day. All the other hoodlums had gone home for the evening.

But Darryl T came back.

He had twice as much toilet paper this time, but we were tired, and we wanted to end the shenanigans. It was time to call it a day.

We stopped him before he put up one roll. We stood our ground and sent him home. But, again, we kept the tissue. A hour or two passed, and I had already settled into my jammies and was watching a late-night movie when I heard the car door slam.

“Oh, no. It can’t be.”

I looked at my husband in utter amazement. Surely, Darryl T wasn’t back.

A peek through the living room curtains confirmed my suspicions.

“Show him no mercy,” I said.

This time we let him toss all the rolls, and then we made him clean it up. He wasn’t happy. His red cheeks glowed like the fuse of a freshly-lit M80, just seconds from going off.

He drove away. We won.

Or so we thought.

It must have been close to midnight when we heard a horrible THUD, coming from the front yard. Over and over and over again.




I slipped on my jeans and an old sweat shirt. But when we looked out the window, we saw Darryl T, heaving a one of those industrial-strength commercial rolls of toilet paper high into the air. You know what I’m talking about, the GIANT rolls that you see in the bathrooms at Walmart or, in Darryl T’s case, a fast-food restaurant.

He positioned it between his knees and then hefted it toward the lower branches of a tree.


It didn’t go far.

Kenny and I debated what to do. The choice was obvious.

Let him win.

Anyone who would go to the trouble of stealing giant rolls of TP and trying to toss them deserved bragging rights. We watched for a while and then settled back into our routine. Several minutes later we heard a knock at the door. Darryl T stood there with a look of agony on his bright red face.

“Uh, my car died. In your drive way. I think it’s my battery. Think you could jump me off?”

“Sure, Darryl T, right after you clean up this mess.”

He tried. We won.