Friday, April 01, 2005

over the edge

April always reminds me of a funny thing that happened to me when I was seventeen. Well, when I say funny, I mean it is now when I think of it, but my life could be so much different now were it not for Lady Luck looking after me.

Peter O’Reilly was in my class for all subjects in school, but I never really hung out with him outside the classroom. It just so happened that we were both hanging around after hours for different reasons on this particular day. He had to wait a while before his ride home and I was just staying to get an hour’s study done in the peace and quiet of the Study Hall since there were so many annoying distractions at home.

Rather than get down to his studies, Peter decided to single me out from the few people scattered all over the Study Hall and inform me that he knew a much more secluded place to get study done. Although I didn’t know him all that well I always had him down as a reasonable sort, so I packed my books into my bag and went with him.

It was to the gym that he brought me. There was a balcony overlooking the hall, which was where you operated the basketball scoreboard. I had always wondered how you got in there. Apparently he somehow knew one of the janitors and was able to gain access to the room. Once inside, it seemed like a perfect secluded spot to crack the books.

Like the naïve youngster I was, I followed him into the room. There were two tables and two chairs, but I was surprised when he flung his bag aside and started chatting to me. Still, not wanting to be rude, I played along, and chatted back. He wanted to know all about rugby. He asked me did I play, which I did. To all intents and purposes, I was convinced that he was interested in taking up the sport.

For about half an hour I told Peter all about the game and how it was worth playing, and he showed what seemed to be a genuine curiosity. It was only when he started asking me about the scrums and how they worked that I started to get suspicious as to his intentions. To the uninitiated, a scrum is a play in rugby whereby 8 men from each team get into a kind of gridlock huddle which acts like a tug-of-war in reverse as they try to push each other out of the way to gain possession of the ball for their side.

Once he stood up and walked towards me, I was starting to get very nervous. He claimed to want me to demonstrate exactly how the scrum worked. I was still faced with the dilemma whereby I did not want to appear uncomfortable, so I tentatively played along. He bent down in front of me and asked me to show him how the front row of the scrum got together. I stood up, leaned forward, pressed the top of my head against his shoulder, and let him do the same to me as we each reached forward to grab the other’s arms just like they do in the rugby scrums. All the time I was nervously chattering about nothing, especially when we were down in our clinch. There then followed a brief silence before he turned his face toward mine and kissed me on the cheek.

Outrage was not the word. I could never call myself homophobic. I could never call myself a violent man. But I was just so frustrated that all my worst fears about this situation had been realized that I all I wanted to do was lash out. I had to get this guy away from me as soon as possible. The only thing I could think to do in my anger was surge forward. There was not enough time for me to remember that the rail of the balcony was but a few yards behind him. My forward motion sent him straight against the rail and the momentum sent him flying up over the balcony down towards the deserted gym below.

Lucky was not the word either. Directly below the balcony were three things – a set of weights equipment, a vaulting horse, and a soft, giant mat for tumbling. Peter fell straight down onto the mat. It took me what seemed like an age but was probably only about ten seconds to get the courage to look down and learn his fate. He had already jumped up and was holding his back from the impact of the rail. It only took one look between us to reach an agreement not to speak about this to anyone in the school. I don’t even think I said a single word to the chap since. It’s only when early April comes round that I’m reminded of the whole thing, and how much different the consequences could have been.

Click here for a full list of the "Lifeslice" stories


Anna said...

Evidently, April Fools come in many varieties!

Buffalo said...

A life can change during the blink of an eye. It wasn't his time.

alley rat said...

wow. it seems like a potentially tragic situation borne of the necessity of subterfuges....nicely told. i'm glad it turned out okay.

JL Pagano said...

Well spotted Shan! Thank you as well for the comments, Buffalo and alley rat, but please read the post again, specifically at the first letter of each paragraph.....sorry!!!

fairygirl701 said...

haha, very funny!! But it was an interesting story!!

shandi said...

Nicely done!!!

Mike Todd said...

Dude -- that's funny.

alley rat said...

ooooh...ouch. publicly humiliated!

i am the april fool

hermione2001ie said...

I think the gentleman doth protest too much... hehehe