You probably stood there with your beady, conniving eyes locked on me for minutes beforehand, your undermedicated little fingers twitching opportunistically with Darwinian notions of power.
It was second or third grade, I don’t recall. In the hierarchy of my memory, emotional content far outweighs temporal content, and this was pretty fucking emotional. I still remember how I seethed for hours after the fact, shocked and hurt by my encounter with a ruthless side of human nature to which I had heretofore been oblivious.
Life was pretty simple back then. The usual elementary school digs—riding my yellow bike up steep Donald Drive in the morning, drilling times tables and basic grammar, snack recess, reading books far below my level of comprehension, getting out of class for leadership, attempting jumps off the bumps in the sidewalk as I zoomed down Donald back to the apartment complex. You know. Smart kid things. Oh yeah, I almost forgot—I also frequented the GATE program after school on Thursdays. Gifted And Talented Education. Funny, I never saw you there.
Anyway. Picture little ol’ me. Bright sunny day, standing in line behind the backstop, just waiting to pummel this worn red rubber ball. Gazing absentmindedly at the puny little pitcher, different ideas for specific pitch requests sparring in my head. (Slow baby bouncy? Nah, that’s ordinary. Slow roll? Nope, that’s for kids with no coordination. Slow big bouncy? Hey, I could kill that. Slow big bouncy.)
I could already imagine the body language of the outfielders when they’d see the ball, arcing above their heads, silhouetted against the blue sky like a distant black balloon. They’d turn and charge after it, sprinting, until they realized the true magnitude of my kick. Then they would slowly come to a halt. Giving up. Knowing that Julien had done it once again. What else could they have expected?
Suddenly, I felt a hand rip my shoulder backward, throwing me off balance. You stepped in front of me, simply and unforgivingly, as if I were supposed to just concede my spot in line, compromise my enthusiasm, and that would be that. Like, “Oh, it’s Trevor, crazy transfer kid, I’ll let him express himself however he feels whenever he feels like it no matter if it hurts my feelings.” Well, no. It wasn’t like that.
“Hey, no cutting,” I stated defiantly.
“Too bad.” (God, what an asshole.)
And then it happened. So quickly, so out of the blue. I was striding to reclaim my position in front of your devilish grin when you whipped around and fiercely clawed my neck, in one precise movement. Blood was drawn with ease.
I stumbled backward, feeling my wound, aghast with horror. First patting my neck with my forefinger, then licking off the salty substance. Yep, fuckin’ blood. My outrage was drowned by my incredulity. What kind of beast was this kid? All I knew is that I was getting the hell away, turning my tear-streaked face away from the madness, crossing once again the border between the wild grass and the familiar, burning blacktop.
On that sad, sad day, I couldn’t find the courage to go back out there and fight the injustice. I knew the risks were too great. And somewhere, in the stores of my subconscious, I know a part of me is dying each day whilst reliving this horrid event.
Trevor. You’re one of my best friends and all. And yeah, we “laugh it off” when we talk about it nowadays. But that’s not to say I don’t cringe inside and my heart doesn’t start racing wildly whenever I hear your voice behind my back.
It still matters.
Trevor, I want my place in the kickball line back.