This is A True Story. I am not making this up.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the struggle to survive high school and puberty with their sanity and self-worth intact. A lot of people turned to alcohol or recreational pharmaceutical use. Some tried extra-curricular activities or, God help them, actually doing homework and studying.
Since none of us had cars or were old enough to drive, my friends and I had a penchant for wandering around town late at night and comitting acts of harmless petty vandalism. Not mindless, violent vandalism, like breaking windows and smashing mailboxes - this was high-class vandalism, with a heavy dose of irony and a tendency towards pyromania. (We were, after all, teenage boys.) Things like putting donuts and Illuminati symbols in people's mailboxes, or writing VANILLA ICE 4-EVA in bug spray on the road, and then setting it on fire.
(fun fact:Off! insect repellent burns blue, and leaves black marks on pavement that repel water. These marks will remain for several months.)
So late one fine fall night, three friends and I were at the home of a guy we knew who would soon be moving. A lot of the family's unwanted belongings were in cardboard boxes in the front yard. In one of those boxes were two toy stuffed kittens. Pound Kitties, actually, a close relative of the Pound Puppies. They were violently, offensively cute. They were the kind of hyper-marketable cute that takes a team of dedicated cuddleologists several months to create. There are few things that disgust adolescent boys more than that kind of cuteness.
I don't remember who it was, but one of us picked up a kitten, holding it gingerly as if it were a dead animal of some kind, and said:
Look at this little bastard! It's too cute. It has to pay.
Someone else responded with a line which became legend among my circle of friends:
They have to pay the ultimate price. Cleansing by fire.
Judgement had been passed. We remembered passing a lawn and garden service truck, complete with open trailer full of gardening equipment parked in front of a large house on our walk to where we were. This was a very nice neighborhood, and the houses and their yards were far too large for their rich, bloated occupants to take care of.
(fun fact: gardening service trucks invariably have jugs of gasoline on them, to power the various weed whackers and lawn mowers and such.)
We borrowed a half-full jug of gasoline and went in search of somewhere fairly secluded. Since the houses and yards were so large, it was easy to find a place where we were out of sight. We put the kittens in the middle of the road, about 2 feet apart, and soaked them in gasoline:
Then, so we could light them both with one match, we drew a trail of gasoline from each kitten to a central point, and then a line of gasoline about 10 feet away from there, so we wouldn't have to be too close when they caught fire:
The less brave guys stood back a bit; myself and another brave soul took turns tossing matches towards the line of gasoline and cringing. Finally our aim rang true. We were not prepared for what happened next.
With a low, rumbling "FWOOOOOMPH!", the gasoline (which had ample time to seep into a much wider path) caught fire. 4 pairs of eyeballs bugged straight out of their respective heads as a wall of flames 6 feet tall and 15 feet long brought daylight back to a rich neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. There was a moment of panic and awe, where we stood and watched the flames, moving in beautiful slow motion, reflecting off the windows of nearby houses and cars.
Then we ran screaming into the night.
(fun fact: Adrenaline enables almost superhuman feats of strength or, in our case, speed)
The next day, when we went to return the jug of gasoline, we found a large black "Y" shape in the road, but no kittens. No one else seemed to notice.
(nodeshell rescue, bovine style)