Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Confession

When we were kids my mom used to let us roam around Tinley Park without many restrictions. If we were going to the woods all she would say was, "Be careful, don't go near any hobos". I think that was a prudent caution. She didn't tell us not to smash coins on the train rails, nor did she ever tell us not to walk along the train tracks for that matter, just "Don't go near the hobos". So of course we would smash coins, and walk along the train tracks. If you walked far enough along those tracks you would find yourself in a whole different woods than the woods behind our little housing development. We would join up with the railroad tracks just outside Vogt's Woods, walk about a mile east along them, and end up in Yankee Woods. On the south side of the railroad tracks was a portion of Yankee Woods called Tony's Slough. Tony's Slough was a shallow pond full of large tortoises, snakes, and various amphibians. It was really cool. One day, when I was about twelve years old, my friends and I grabbed our hiking equipment and walked down the tracks to Tony's Slough. I grabbed my brother's canteen and filled it with water. We also took along some snacks and a few books of matches. Back then every drug store, gas station, grocery store, hardware store, every store in town, gave away free books of matches and they didn't care if you were only twelve years old. On arriving at Tony's Slough we all sat around eating our snacks and lighting matches. At some point somebody suggested we play a game called fireman. It was played like this. One person would take a turn at being the fireman while the rest of us would light the woods around Tony's Slough on fire. The point of the game was for the "fireman" to put out the fire. If you couldn't put out the fire alone, and you needed help after awhile, you lost. I was very good at lighting the fires. I was not so good at putting them out. In fact, we burned down the woods at Tony's Slough that day. I still remember us running back towards Tinley Park along the railroad tracks and looking back at the smoke billowing from the woods while off in the distance you could hear the wail of the fire truck sirens. Anyway, that isn't what this post is about. This post is my confession to my older brother Dave. I think the statute of limitations has passed after fifty plus years, so here it is. Dave, I left your canteen at Tony's Slough that day. I left your canteen to burn up in the inferno that we had caused. I remember when you came back from the seminary and was looking for that canteen. I denied all knowledge of its fate. So there are two confessions I have to make. I burned up your canteen, and I lied about where it was.


  1. I guess there are three confessions in this story. I burned up my brother's canteen, I lied to him about what happened to it, and I started a forest fire. Sorry.

  2. Why are boys such arsonists?

  3. Facination with fire seems to be a male primeval instinct.