Heaven and Hell on Earth

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Thousands of events have been lived, studied, and evaluated upstairs in the old noggin. One reoccurring study that’s been with me since I was a kid is the discussion between heaven and hell. I learned that the two future homes are the result of our actions in life. If I understand the result correctly, I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s either one or the other.

For the longest time, I tried to over-think heaven and hell. I have complicated them, tried to critique them, and attempted to justify and modify them. There is no doubt in my mind that the two “worlds” exist in our after-life. In order for me to relieve my heavy thought towards this matter, I have to keep it simple. The only way I knew how to do this during my youthful years, was to live heaven and hell on Earth. I had to recognize both in my life and we live each one of them daily. It’s all a matter of perception.

Heaven on Earth:

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I grew up in a wonderful home. My parents were both fantastic, kind-loving role models. Our home was on the west side of town and backed up to the old high school athletic field complex. The layout for the games consisted of football, baseball, softball, and a track and field setup. Buildings for restrooms, concession stands, equipment storage, and tennis courts scattered about. On the land were bleachers, light posts for night ball, a drinking fountain, and a grassy parking lot. Homes backed up the athletic field on 3 sides at the perimeter, and there was a playground for young kids on the south end. There were 3 press boxes; one for baseball and the other two for football. One of the press boxes sat high wrapping 360 degrees around a wooden light post. It served as a lookout much like a large sailing vessel had in centuries long ago. The circular press box high and abandoned now, was to become a favorite target of mine catapulted from Louisville Sluggers from a distance.

There was an era when this complex was the weekend hangout for an entire town to come cheer their local boys on. That time had passed the year before we moved here. A new high school was built a mile west in the country. I had free and uninhibited reign of the fabulously old athletic field. I couldn’t have dreamed for a better place to grow up. This wasn’t always a good thing for an adventurer to have at his disposal. My father used to go ballistic at the mischief I would get in to.

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I had many hiding places for special items I needed for creating a little fun in life. One of those hiding places was in the light switch terminals attached to various light posts. No longer applicable, locks were cut off by a borrowed hack saw from a father’s garage, and the containers could secure many cool items. One of those “toys” was my fireworks.

After many pick-up games of baseball, the neighborhood boys went home for lunch. This upset me as I never understood how food could ever be a priority over another game of ball playing. I could play ball from sun up until sundown and it never mattered to me who played. I only cared that there were people to play and I was all in for the action. This summer day, the only kids left on the athletic field were me and a neighbor. “I know what we can do but you have to promise me you’ll never show anybody this,” I said to my buddy. I opened the hinged box and confiscated my firecracker stash. A couple of books of matches sat next to the powdered packs of mini grenades and we were in action. We took my fireworks and climbed to the top of the football bleachers. Alone and in packs, we dropped and rifled off air bombs exploding in the warm summer’s breeze.

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Hell on Earth:

Occasionally, a pack of firecrackers possess a rapidly burning short set of fuses. You only have a second to react before they explode in your hands. You have to be alert when this happens, and you need to separate the distance from your hand and the explosion very quickly. This day, I had one of those unruly mini sets of dynamite. Dropping them through the wooden bleachers before my hand was in harm’s way, a pack of 32 fell lit to the tall brush below where a lawn mower couldn’t get to. There was no rhythm of “crack-crack-crack-crack…” The grouping of explosives was duds! The string fizzled and hissed and the outer papers burned in a small little fire. “That was a close one, huh,” I said to my friend. We carried on and lit more.

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Soon we noticed smoke rising from below us. We looked through the gap in the stands and saw flames rising towards our feet. “Whoa. This is not good,” and I jumped over the top railing to the burning ground below. We both stood there, in shock and disbelief, watching the tall brush that had now ignited. A part of me was laughing and in awe, and another portion of me said, “Oh crap. My dad hates it when stuff like this happens to me!” We were in big trouble and had to do something quickly. I’m not sure how much time elapsed between admiring our unplanned artwork and acting. It seemed like forever but was probably more like 1-2 minutes.

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I sprinted across the track and through the chain link hole in the border fence, to our garden hose about 120 feet away. It wasn’t far at all and I turned the hose on full blast, threading it through the link in a direct course towards the bleacher field fire. Bolting back through the fence and stretching the water hose, it became taught but far short of the brush blaze. Improvising was the next step. We rushed over to my back porch and grabbed empty containers my mom had lying around. Filling them with water, we carted them to douse the flames.

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During our scurrying about, a corner section of the bleachers had now caught on fire also. “Oh God Oh God Oh God….please-please don’t let one of these old neighbor ladies see this and call 911.” This situation just elevated to another level. “Hail Mary, I’m full of fire, the Lord is with thee, pray for Charlie sinner, give me a hurricane immediately!” My dad will go insanely crazy if the fire department has to respond to this. I didn’t care so much that there was a fire. What I cared about more was that I didn’t want to sit through another table dinner hearing about how I can mess up a one car parade. “Please don’t burn, please don’t burn!” The open field winds spread the flames and the dry summer brush fueled the fire. We were not containing this. I ran back to my house and grabbed a Coleman water cooler. Filling it up from the water hose on the running track, the cooler had a tap at the bottom which could be used as a make-shift fire hose. This helped but wasn’t the key to ending this fire.

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Heaven on Earth Again:

The winds that helped to spread the blaze also assisted us in finishing it. As the tips of the dry grasses reached for the wooden bleachers, the windy forces blew out the candle tips with a “whoosh”. The fire had no where else to go and only the splinters and corner of the wooden bleacher tips had caught fire. There wasn’t enough fuel necessary to engulf a large wooden butt plank into a “conflagration” behind my house. We watered, trampled, and stomped the embers with our baseball cleats. The remaining burning brush was sliced down by numerous swings of a baseball bat.

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For one afternoon day in a life, a little boy lived both heaven and hell from his perspective. There were plenty more days like this to come in the future. It’s difficult for me to explain how and why I find unusual events like this fascinating. I didn’t ask for them. They just happened regularly. I wish I had an answer on how I can stare catastrophe in the eye and realize both humor and fear in a single bizarre event. There is a momentary disbelief that sets in my being that recognizes a situation that few will ever experience. Possibly my mind has a need to record such experiences for a short time frame. Maybe I am amazed by the fact it’s happening again to me. “Why me,” will be asked 10,000 times in the future. Ten thousand times “fox hole” prayers will be plead. “Oh God-Oh God, I’ll never do this again” … or … “I promise not to pull single hairs anymore from the girl’s head sitting in front of me at church,” will be prayed 10,000 times in the heat of the moment.

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A few weeks later on a vacation trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, newer and bigger fireworks would be purchased. They would be hidden between baseball shirts and basketball shorts. The little grenades called “M-80″s that packed more of a punch would be taped to the end of arrows that would be launched from a bow. The fireworks would be used to lure local police into exciting foot chases through neighborhood back yards on a boring Saturday evening. Heaven and Hell on Earth would be lived again yet another day.

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  1. #1 by askcherlock on June 2, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Awesomely nostalgic, Charlie!

    • #2 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 5:15 pm

      Hello Cher –

      I hope you enjoyed my story from long ago. Thank you for reading me and commenting. 🙂

  2. #3 by melissa on June 2, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    this is definitely one of those days brian… how on earth did you set something ablaze is a wonder to me… but it could also race my heart to risks… 😛

    you’re really one of a kind …

    • #4 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 5:29 pm

      Hi Melissa –

      Did you read my story, lol? I told you how, silly. I was doing something that I probably should have been doing ;). Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  3. #5 by He Said on June 2, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    I knew you had to have some Pyro in you Charlie (the good kind) 🙂
    Don’t tell you you tried M80 under a bucket too?

    • #6 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 5:43 pm

      Hello He Said –

      I shot them from wrist rockets, out from home made soda can cannons, out car windows, inside tightly sealed empty pickle jars, threw them out onto men’s softball games from behind wooden home run fences in center field, ect. ect. ect. Of course by hand, underneath turned over flower pots, and buckets as well. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  4. #7 by Roy Durham on June 2, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    i hate hang fires they just take the fun out of it . i think it is best that we were not growing up in the same area. hey did you ever see ten tons of dynamiter go off. big bang lol so much fun, back then. thank you for reminding me. god did bless i think you and me.

    • #8 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 5:46 pm

      Hey Cowboy –

      Nooo I never saw dynamite in action. Not one time. I’m sure my God thought it best for me to limit my play with lesser evils. I would be much safer that way ;). Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  5. #9 by SJ on June 2, 2011 - 6:45 pm

    and there it is – a lesson should of been learnt and yet you went ahead and continued to do it anyway – how on earth am I going to expect my son to learn when reading this I just know he’s going to do what he wants because it’s fun! OK he’s not sawing off conviscated boxes and setting fireworks off but he’s 11 and from what I can tell not far off it. Boys will be boys I guess… I noticed how all the way through you were more concerned at the telling off you were going to get than possibly burning down a whole school stadium including seats????? (bleachers – I’m not familiar with that term! that’s an obsessive cleaner where I come from and where’s google when you need it?)

    Yep that was me when I set fire to my family’s kitchen trying to shrink crisp packets under the grill.. OK I just realised where he gets it from…. the heat is off you for now although I did have a really good point to make but not before I left you an essay and a half LOL.

    I always belived that where I am now is a test, this is hell, the proof is in the pudding if you can make the most of what goes on now regardless of how hellish it is then once your time has passed, you pass to the heaven you deserve.. If you don’t pass because you ultimately fail or give up you get to relive hell until you do. Well that’s my take on it any way 🙂

    • #10 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 9:10 pm

      HI Sarah –

      Boys will be boys is very true. I wouldn’t have called it a stadium SJ. It was just some bleachers (stadium style seating) on a side of a rarely used middle school football playing field now that the high school had moved out west. There are many lessons I learned the first crack at it yet there were also many I continued to learn from, modify, and adopt a grander approach to horse play. All I can really say is that I had a wild streak in me and maybe you will still be reading me when I get around to diving in much deeper to a lot more of that. One problem I find in writing a post like this, it is very boring for me to write. It reads back to me like reporting. Thank you for taking the heat off my head. I was concerned that a tar and feathering was next, haha. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  6. #11 by InJensMind on June 2, 2011 - 7:12 pm

    The conversations we have in our heads can be difficult. Worrying about anything that we do not understand or aren’t meant to understand can also be difficult. The best thing you have done for yourself is to break it down into what you can understand. You have learned what few ever learn and that is to focus on the whole experience and not just the good or bad. Even when something bad happens you have seen that something good soon follows, you learned a monumental lesson that day and even a bigger one now. It can truly be called living when you can break a day into parts and piece it back together into a meaningful, heartfelt and insightful write. Kudos.

    You have brought realness into this by sharing a memory and all its emotions; the ups and downs, the ins and outs and most definitely the happy and sad. You have taken us not only through a memory but, made it as if we were all there with you; experiencing what you did first hand. You are an extraordinary writer and I look forward to more posts like this one. Thank you so much for sharing such an incredible memory and I’m glad to see that you have learned the biggest lesson out of it.

    • #12 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 9:27 pm

      Hello Jenni –

      I’ve spent a lot of time in my life and in my head, weighing out the reasons why somethings happen. I’ve also received thousands of answers and some never explained fully. Some things can never be explained at all. I’ve found that I don’t need to know the reasons in all situations. What I really need to do is to be open to the day in front of me and play the cards that are dealt to me as the dealer flips them over for me to work with. If I wanted a “Queen of Diamonds” and receive a “Seven of Clubs”, I need to make the most of putting that “7” to good use. That’s the simplest way for me to manage. I really appreciate your kind words above regarding my story. There are so many memories and emotions involved with each, I am reminded of a few each day that hadn’t been thought upon in a lot of years. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  7. #13 by Jessica brant on June 2, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    Holy smack batman. You were a total troublemaker. Love love this flashback, I got this one.
    Reminds me of the tome I set fire to a text book in chem. Gees that didn’t go over very well, not to mention I got kick out of the birding school.
    What is it abut fire, fireworks that intice child to it?

    • #14 by charlie nitric on June 2, 2011 - 9:29 pm

      Hi Jessica –

      My mind goes through flashback mode from time to time. I guess today was one of those days and hence the post you’re responding too. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  8. #15 by Debra Elramey on June 2, 2011 - 8:16 pm


    • #16 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 4:02 am

      Hi Debra –

      LOL, you have me pegged PERFECTLY! I’m off to start another one. This time I’ll do it the right way; dynamite, gasoline, hotdogs, and a few marsh mellows to boot. A guy has to eat something while he watches a good brush fire burn. Thank you for reading me and commenting. 🙂

  9. #17 by Rimly on June 3, 2011 - 12:20 am

    You played too much with fire Charlie Nitrate. Awesome post nevertheless.


    • #18 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 3:27 am

      Hi Rimly –

      Yes, I did play around with fire a bit when I was a kid. This is definitely very true. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  10. #19 by Mari on June 3, 2011 - 12:39 am

    Love your post and blog. Hilarious! You will definitely be published….soon! Having raised two sons I’ve lived many adventures like this. Don’t get me started on the excitement of M-80s :D. I found you through your award as one of the Suave Bloggers – congratulations, you deserve it.

    I’m now following you (hope you have FeedBurner) and hope you will follow me also.

    Regards, Mari


    • #20 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 8:22 am

      Hi Mari –

      I have 2 sons also and thank goodness they don’t have all of me in them. They do have portions of me and I see signs of that from time to tome. Some of it is very good and some of it well..they will need to figure that out as they go. I’m fortunate to have 2 very great boys. I’m glad you enjoy my post and thank you for following me. Happy Friday to you. 🙂

  11. #21 by Corinne Rodrigues on June 3, 2011 - 6:46 am

    I told you we’d enjoy it…..You’re one hell-raiser alright, Mr Ig-Nitric!

    • #22 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 8:23 am

      Corinne my friend. You have no idea yet. Happy Friday to you. 🙂

      • #23 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 2:16 pm

        Hi Alpana –

        Wow, don’t you mean the fireworks are volatile, lol? Yes my sweet friend, I will shock you when I am prepared to write more deeply in to life. I’m just getting a feel for my new online writing environment at the time being. Spunk is something I do have. Thank you for your kind words and support here. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  12. #24 by Alpana Jaiswal on June 3, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    I am not surprised reading this,dear Charlie…you are a “volatile”person….and nothing you will do or have done ever,will shock me..You are an amazing person..and I like people with a lot of spunk…Keep going….<3

  13. #25 by bornstoryteller on June 3, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    liked, stumbled, twitted..need..more..buttons….

    • #26 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 2:18 pm

      Hello Stuart –

      Thanks man. And thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  14. #27 by Penny on June 3, 2011 - 8:22 pm

    I learned that the two future homes are the result of our actions in life. If I understand the result correctly, I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s either one or the other. I gave these words some great thought. I am now in the midst of having to make some decisions about work and making more time for having a more personal life, as right now I am working around the clock. My decision will make a huge impact upon my life and my future. Living a life of heaven and hell on earth, there comes a time when we just have to stop what we are doing and make some changes. !!

    • #28 by charlie nitric on June 3, 2011 - 8:40 pm

      Hi Penny –

      First you need to make sure that the decision (change) aligns with what ever end result (goal) you perceive this change can bring you. Does the change align with the goal? Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  15. #29 by kriti on June 4, 2011 - 5:12 am

    I once slept peacefully while my comforter had caught fire!!!! But that is a story for another day … Loved your trip down memory lane : )))

    • #30 by charlie nitric on June 4, 2011 - 5:17 pm

      Hello Kriti –

      Oh come on. I’d like to hear about it. Maybe it will cheer me up ;). Maybe you will write a blog about it someday. There are lots of memories down memory lane. I’ll do my best to bring a couple more soon. Thank you for reading me and commenting. 🙂

  16. #31 by Jackie Paulson Author on June 6, 2011 - 12:57 am

    Just wanted to stop by your outstanding post “heaven and Hell” on earth is a topic well covered. Even if this did happen a long time ago.

    • #32 by charlie nitric on June 6, 2011 - 7:02 am

      Hi Jackie –

      I’m glad you enjoy my story. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  17. #33 by pissykittyslitterbox.com on June 6, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    I know why you find and create these unusual events, because you want to feel like you’re living life to it’s fullest, and sometimes extremes are necessary to create that deep appreciation for every breath you take. There isn’t anything wrong with that as long as you keep it on the down-low and don’t start a forest fire or something. That was an awesome story, Charlie! Reminded me of the pickles I used to get into as a kid. There was never a dull moment when I was around.

    • #34 by charlie nitric on June 6, 2011 - 4:05 pm

      Hey Kitty –

      Lots and lots of pickles, Kitty. Too many to remember. Sometimes an old one will just flash in front of my mind’s eye without notice. “Gosh. I haven’t that about that for a long time,” I think. Stick around Kitty. We’ve only just begun my friend. Thank you for reading me and for commenting. 🙂

  18. #35 by Joy Page Manuel on August 16, 2011 - 12:04 am

    I think it would have been more disappointing if I found out you were not a mischievous boy at all. That would’ve been a shocker and one too difficult to recover from!! ;-)) (And I think such ‘heavens’ and ‘hells’ had to happen to you so that you can write about them!)

    • #36 by charlie nitric on August 19, 2011 - 11:33 am

      Hi Joy –

      There are many heavens and hells to write about which has my mind boggled on which direction to travel. The mischief…oh yes lots and lots of it. Enough for many books ;).

    • #37 by charlie nitric on August 19, 2011 - 11:33 am

      Hi Joy –

      There are many heavens and hells to write about which has my mind boggled on which direction to travel. The mischief…oh yes lots and lots of it. Enough for many books ;).

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