The Heat of the Fourth of July

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The Heat of the Fourth of July It was not particularly hot that Fourth of July many years ago, but looking back it was the heat that impressed itself upon me the most. The true heat was much more than the temperature. The true heat that I felt was from the long, winding, awe-inspiring chase that the cops gave my friends and me. Let it be said now: the moral of this story is to not shoot bottle rockets toward police cruisers; the consequences are frightening to say the least. The day was like any other Independence Day in its celebration-the barbecue was on the grill, the family was on the deck, and the good feelings were freely flowing. I chatted with the family, put in the requisite time at the kiddies' table, and began to feel the spirit of the holiday. It was clear and calm that day, with still no indication of the police-led festivities yet to come, and then it happened: an old uncle, rarely seen except for those few occasions when public drinking with the familial unit is acceptable, brought out a bag of things that no self-respecting Fourth of July party-goer is without--the fireworks. Pretty soon the kids, and even a few adults, were enjoying the pyrotechnic show. Later that evening, as all kids do at some point on the Fourth, my friends and I left the festivities to find some fun. We were not being particularly destructive, yet there was a hint of malicious spirit in our laughter. Walking through the neighborhood, we would shoot rockets at passers-by, houses, and even each other. This half malicious fun continued for several hours, until darkness fell completely, while we waited, not knowing what we were waiting for, very tense and excited. Then the unexpected happened, and when it did, it did so with a shot. The twelve of us were sitting at a friend's house, in his yard, on his porch, wherever we could find a seat, when a cop pulled up to the drive. Now, anyone who has been a teenager understands the need to rebel, but there also exists an inherent need to obey in the face of armed authority. My friend Chuck obviously only felt like rebelling.

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