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Fireworks are more fun when they're illegal [Vignette]

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Kevin grins to himself and a couple of the other guys also staying at Freedom College over the summer. A part-time job at a local bar waiting tables (unfortunately, not tending the bar – the bartenders make a lot more in tips) gives him enough money to celebrate Independence Day in style. The three of them sit in the back of the bus where they’ve been for the last hour and a half.

“Now, if we were in Texas, this would’ve been a lot easier,†he says to Don. Don just rolls his eyes and nods.

“I know; you been telling me this for hours,†Don says. “Texas has real fireworks, and we wouldn’t’ve had to take the bus out of state to get something bigger than a sparkler.â€Â

“Or if one of us had a car,†Matt says. He glances from side to side as he re-arranges the duffel bag on his shoulder. “I just wish we didn’t look so suspicious. The only way it could be worse is if we were all wearing trenchcoats.†Don elbows him in the ribs, then gives him a glare as he starts to protest. Then Matt realizes who he was speaking around. He looks over to Kevin. “Oh, sorry man. I didn’t mean… you know…â€Â

Kevin sighs and waves it off. “It’s cool. I know what you mean. It would’ve looked a lot worse if I was carrying all of them, though. This way, we can get set up for tonight in style. Either of you guys ever lit off big ones before?†he asks.

Don and Matt both shake their heads. Don says, “Sparklers only. That’s how you convinced me to come out all this way. I want to be right under something big.â€Â

Kevin chuckles, “You do that, you get your ears blown out. Trust me, a couple hundred feet is still plenty close.†He starts going through the list of things that they bought. Since he planned the whole thing, he is now the one responsible for making it look good for all the people who are going to be watching. Don and Matt aren’t the only ones who will be there. There are a few girls who were looking for something to do, something a little more intimate than the huge fireworks displays that happen in Freedom City every year. He wants to make his show as good as he can, for his own sake as much as anyone else’s. This is the first Independence Day that he isn’t celebrating down in Texas, and he’s feeling just a bit homesick. Bringing a little piece of Texas up north is just what the doctor ordered.

Eight o’clock has come, and Kevin is putting together the finishing touches on his display. It’s still light enough out to see, but it’s pretty dumb to try to set things up when it’s already dark outside. Besides, Don and Matt are both better as lookouts when they can actually see who’s coming. Kevin didn’t share how he got on top of Baker Hall – there’s no need to let Don and Matt know just how easy it is to climb up there – but he knew that everybody on campus would appreciate his efforts at bringing the fireworks to them. He does one final check of all the fuses, then heads to the side of the building. Going up is a little easier than down, but quick reflexes get him back inside the window that he left open. He was never afraid of heights, and given the other part-time job he has, that’s a good thing.

It’s ten o’clock, and Don and Matt are both sitting in the grass near Baker. They’re both having better luck with the girls than Kevin – his usual curse of being a nice guy, but one who doesn’t put himself out there. He clears his throat, and the four of them look over.

“Ok, I think it’s dark enough that we can shoot them off. After it finishes, we should go before campus police comes to investigate. You guys ready?†he asks.

“Born ready man. Light it up,†Don says as he leans back and puts his arm around one of the girls. Kevin nods, then pulls out a small remote control that looks like it was stolen from an RC car. It was, in fact, since that was the cheapest thing Kevin could find to get a signal from as far off as they are. Immediately, the screech of fireworks can be heard from the roof. Kevin smiles as the show starts and leans back into the grass.

“Happy Fourth of July, everybody,†he says as the pinwheels and screamers begin to explode.

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