Excerpt from the book:
Left Handed, Four Eyed,
and Catholic Small Town
and they call me Lucky???
My kid brother Bosco found any grown up revolting who stood between him and his mission to burn down everything, the ultimate pyro. While the archangel (Michael) was getting his pants pressed me and the pyro were outside blowing to smithereens with firecrackers every toy soldier we could find.
My arsonist days ended, however, not long after we threw a box of 22 shells into the incinerator and World War III broke out in the alley. We had failed to blow them up slamming bricks on the shells.
I have to admit it, there were times my kid brother scared the Hell out of me. He was reckless, probably possessed, and not at all interested in what was going on in the world. But we had a bond, we were both motherless children, having lost our mother to the duties of rearing the archangel.
One day Bosco and I raced down the hallway by the archangel's room and noticed the massive American Flyer train set, one of our dad's prized possessions, was set up in the room. Better yet, no one was around.
The layout was quite a work of art and engineering, qualities found in the Putnam DNA. A board bigger than the bed folded up against the wall normally, but today it was down and all the trains, villages and mountains were in place.
Now Bosco and I had long debated what would happen if we started a train on top of the mountain and another at the bottom headed toward each other at full speed. How much damage could the two trains do to each other when they crashed?
Thanks to my mechanical skills we had everything working in seconds but when the trains smashed together nothing broke, they just flopped over sideways off the track. It was nothing like the movies. What a bummer.
So Bosco, having morphed into movie director Cecil B. DeMille, restaged the train wreck scene only this time, to make it seem more real, he loaded one of the train engines with fireworks. I warned him the M-80s might be a bit too much but he insisted. He lit the fuse and sent the train flying down the mountain leaving me seconds to launch the other one up the mountain.
The two trains weren't even close when the engine simply blew off the face of the earth, while the rest of the cars tumbled down the mountain with shrapnel flying all over the room. As we dove under the bed the avalanche of debris crashed into the other train leaving a tangled mess.
When dad walked into the room, having heard the house shaking explosion, his stunned reaction was priceless. His mouth opened to scream but no sound emerged. The way he trembled and his veins popped up indicated a high degree of nerve instability so the vocal paralysis was probably a good thing, It allowed him to calm down before he might have killed us.
We denied any knowledge of how an entire American Flyer train engine could possibly dematerialize and disappear, though we did acknowledge our role in the wreck and agreed to spend our allowances for the next 15 years replacing all the broken village and mountain pieces.
In hindsight I realized trusting Bosco's judgment was far too dangerous to risk in the future.