My Cousin the Arsonist

My Cousin the Arsonist

My Cousin the Arsonist

The summer before I began my junior year of college, I spent many nights playing video games at my oldest cousin’s home. Most of my cousins were over there as well, and we would stay up until the break of dawn playing games, talking trash to one another, and having a good time.

One night we all had a craving for chicken strips, and before we knew it, that was all we could think about. Now, my cousin lives in the middle of nowhere. The nearest supermarket was 30 miles away, and to get there, you have to travel down curvy, dark roads around a mountain. It would have taken too long for a roundtrip just to buy chicken strips, so my younger cousin and I did the next best thing: we went to a nearby gas station and purchased five boxes of chicken strips.

Surprisingly, the chicken from this gas station has never been bad. I would go so far as to say it’s borderline delicious, so the few-mile trip we took to get it was certainly worth it. I was ready to jump into his vehicle and head back to my oldest cousin’s house to play some more videos games when my cousin came up with a ridiculous idea: shooting a glass bottle full of gasoline to see if it would ignite.


Full disclosure: the guy isn’t an idiot. Of course, he knew that shooting a glass bottle filled to the brim with gasoline would ignite – as did I. By inquiring the question, he was giving himself an excuse to blow something up. Fair enough, so I replied:

“I don’t know, maybe you should try it.”

Immediately, he walked back into the gas station, purchased a large glass bottle of lemonade while handing the cashier two extra dollars for gasoline, and walked out of the gas station, quickly chugging the bottle of lemonade so he could fill it back up with gasoline. Surprisingly, he finished the lemonade before he returned to his truck. Thinking back, he probably drank 20 ounces of lemonade in seven seconds – insane.

As you will see, the word ‘insane’ perfectly describes my cousin.

With the chicken firmly in my lap and intrigued by how he’s going to pull this off without blowing himself up, he filled up the bottle full of gasoline, made sure he had a box of shotgun shells behind the seat of his truck, and sped out of the parking lot of the gas station. Next stop? Some back road where we’re not going to get caught.

We drove to the perfect spot about 10 minutes away: no homes, no traffic, just the crickets and frogs chirping in the black of night. He exited the truck, grabbed his bottle, shotgun, and a shell from the box, loaded the gun, and found a nice, open space to sit the bottle down.

He aimed, waited a second, then stopped. Turning around, he said to me, “hey, you should record this on your phone.”

My phone already aimed directly at his face, I had been recording since he placed the bottle on the ground.

“Already am,” I yelled back.

“Good,” he replied. “Alright, here it goes.”

Standing probably (and only) five feet away from the bottle, he fired the gun. Instantly, a huge fireball erupted out of the bottle high into the air – about 20, perhaps even 30 feet up! I couldn’t help but cheer: that was one of the dumbest yet simultaneously brilliant things I had ever seen! In the moment, I forgot to look over at my cousin to make sure he was okay, and luckily he was.

Only he wasn’t.

He walked back to the truck, laughing hysterically and saying things such as, “whoa did you see that,” and “we’ll have to get something bigger next time.” He opened the door and jumped into the truck, still high from the adrenaline rush. But something was different about him.

He didn’t have any eyebrows.

Furthermore, the front of his hair was burnt off in random places. It was as if someone had lit a lighter and burnt random spots along the front of his hair.

I told him to look in the mirror of his truck and expected him to be a little disturbed. He wasn’t. He only laughed hysterically, put the truck into reverse, and drove back to my oldest cousin’s house so we could enjoy now-cold chicken and video games for the rest of the evening.

Moral of the story? If you’re going to blow up a glass bottle full of gasoline by shooting it with a shotgun, stand further than five feet away.

One thought on “My Cousin the Arsonist

  1. Chael Miners

    I used to visit my grandparents on the weekends, and they had a neighbor kid about my age. Their back yard was mostly woods and a small river. We would always take our bb guns back and shoot litter that had traveled down from … I’m assuming, Lake Erie.

    One day, while his dad was gone, we decided to play with his gun-powder. We’d poor it into a coffee can, catch some paper on fire and drop it in and… POOF! About the 4th or 5th go at it…. drop the paper in, and ……….. ……….. ……… no poof. “It was a dud, Bobby. Go grab the paper out of it and we’ll do it again.” Bobby goes to reach in for the paper….. POOF!

    We had to explain to his parents why Bobby didn’t have eyebrows. haha.

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