Green Room II
Chapter 42

Graham has a major job tomorrow. A strong wind the other day blew down an old lady's gate, so she asked the grommet to fix it. He said he might give me a shout to help him if Joe's busy. Graham's good with his hands and fixes just about everything. He knows his way around tools. His dad spends time with him and gets him involved in chores around the house. He shows his son how things work, like machinery. Graham helps his dad with the car as well, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty. I have a lot of time for the grommet.

You asked about Graham's dad and Mr. T. I think they're good neighbors rather than mates. The families get together for a barbecue now and then but that's about it.

At the end of the week I plan to connect with Melanie. No particular reason except I need to stay away from crap for a while. So it'll probably be pizza and a movie, or a movie and pizza, or maybe just half a pizza each with a movie, or a movie with half a pizza each, or stay home at her house and order pizza delivered. Staying away from crap sounds like a lotta fun, huh?

No mail from G for a few days? Was he mad at me? Maybe he was pissed off at some stuff I wrote about the Iraq war. I'm totally against it. Another Vietnam.

Three days later I learned that G suffered a heart attack, and was hospitalized. I felt guilty, and responsible for placing him under a great deal of pressure over the past year or so. I just want you to know that I'm thinking of you and ... yeah, praying as well.

Hey, the man is back! So you're back harassing everyone. Kewl! Hahahahaha! This is such a relief! Now I can resume my studies instead of figuring how to get flowers to the hospital.


Yeah, well after all the hype from your internet friends, and allowing my ego to run away, I made a total idiot of myself by walking into Craig.

Meanwhile, it's cool that you're okay. You've no idea the panic that spread across the net. That's why I lost the fight. Gotta have some sort of excuse, right? Next time, get your timing right. How was Kyle supposed to help you and me at the same time? He was so busy with you he missed the punch that floored me. Hahahaha!

I couldn't have suffered the likes of Kyle's death again. My head couldn't handle two deaths in a row. And with final exams looming, I saw myself repeating year 12 a third time. They'd probably pension me off from school like an aged citizen or something.

Tell me this. You own a car. What possessed you to ride a bicycle the day of the heart attack? Are you blond or something?

I want you to know that I missed the after-valedictory party. How could I could I party after reading about your heart attack? No, don't feel bad about it. I planned to excuse myself from the party anyway. The snow and ice flowed and I wouldn't have had the guts to refuse any offers. Bob phoned to tell me what a blast I missed. Then he said all the guys were totaled and most of the girls as well. They organized open top buses to tour the Gold Coast, which was a cool idea, and the weather was perfect. According to Bob, one of our friends screwed his girlfriend on the bus. Most of the other guys didn't notice because she sat on his lap. The only giveaway was the expression on their faces during climax. Hahahahaha! It was wild and I would have dug to go. But if I had I'd be writing you real shit. I still suffer from temptations and the occasional craving.

So tell me the dirty little details. Did any of the nurses try to get into your pajamas? Hahahaha! Bet you got an erection every time they put their hands on you, you dirty old man. Of course, I refer to the male nurses.

A lotta your friends emailed me to ask about you, so you can imagine the panic. Cool that you're back. Meanwhile, here's what I wrote while you were away:

Monday: Mail to myself. I suppose this will be a diary type thing which I'm not sure will ever be mailed. How do I feel right now? Scared. Not of Craig. Bugger him. I know I can beat him and win our little joust of egos. I'm scared of the `what if'.
Graham has been great during the school break, making sure I train every day. He's much more relaxed about our friendship now. I don't wanna disappoint his expectations which are pretty high about my winning the fight. I'd prefer that the venue wasn't his school, though. It gives Craig a home turf advantage.

My concentration is screwed at the moment because of my concern about your health. Have I upset you that much?
I probably need to just get on with my life. Things are better now than they have been all year. My folks are cool, and they like Melanie.

It's good therapy to write stuff to you, G. Helps me analyze myself. Why have I opened up so much of my life to you? Not sure. I suppose, like Kyle, the anonymity of the net makes me feel secure--that it's cool to open up and spew out my innermost feelings, and  details of what occurs here in Byron.

How the hell could I have hurt Kyle like I did? I despise the memory of the look on his face when he discovered that I screwed his girl. I'd never seen him so angry or seething with hate. I still don't know why I did it. To prove I could get his girl? To show him life wasn't just a bed of roses and cooey, cooey, coo? I don't know. I don't know why I did it--or why Melanie allowed me to.

Three more days of school and that's it. No more--well, no more high school. I'll miss some of my best mates. Bob will still be in my shorts. God knows, he's been good for me this year. I don't know how I'd have coped if he hadn't rescued me from a couple of scrapes.

Not sure what's up with G. Still no mail or site updates. I'll write some guys and ask if they know anything. I'd hate to hear the worst after a year of no Kyle. Yet, with all this uncertainty, I need to focus on my fight with Craig tomorrow.

Early Tuesday morning: I hardly slept a wink because of this damn fight. School resumed yesterday so it was routine as normal, except we finish this week with a valedictory service. That's the official end of school apart from the grind of study for finals. It's gonna be a hectic time if I must improve my grades.

Graham challenged me to a strength exercise yesterday. "I just wanna check if you'll go down when Craig hits you." It was shirts off and gloves on, and he asked me to hit his abs. "I'm not a girl," he complained. "You gotta hit me harder!" Before I reacted, he shot a powerful punch to my midsection. It rocked me, but I managed to absorb it. That was satisfying; I remained upright. But it was nonetheless painful. I hit Graham again, and sent him three steps backwards. He also managed to absorb the impact. He weighs only 58 kilos but he's solid muscle.

We quit when our abs were red from punches. "I won't train you too hard--just a bit of sparring," he said. Yeah, right. The bloody liar walloped me every chance he got, which wasn't too often. Okay, so my trainer says I'm ready for Tyson, and that Craig doesn't rate a chance to put me on the canvas.

The only call I received Monday night was from Melanie. She didn't mention the fight because she doesn't approve of Craig and me one on one. She doesn't understand what I hope to prove by being hospitalized.

"Think it will be that bad?"

"Maybe not, but I don't want you to go ahead with this lunacy."

First thing Tuesday I phoned Brett. It was early but I'm aware of his fitness routine before he heads for the boatshed. "Happy birthday!"

"Stuart? Cool! Are you calling from the emergency room?"

"Piss off! The fight's scheduled for this afternoon."

"I think you can beat him. That would be a rocking birthday gift."

"I thought about what I could get you for your birthday. I came up with nothing because I'm not there to give you a hug."

"Just remembering is enough. Kyle was the only other person to phone me for my birthday if we weren't together somewhere. But if you tried to hug me, Stuart, I'd give you to Craig on a platter--of chopped liver. Yours! How do you feel about this fight?"

"Nervous, scared, hell knows."

"That's normal, and good. You'll be okay. How are the bruises?"

"Healing--still a bit tender in places. But I'm okay. It doesn't hassle me."

"Call me again this evening. I wanna know what happened. It'll be a points thing with no real winner. I don't think he'll beat you."

Okay, so I won't be drinking meals through a straw? That's good to know, right? Now I appreciate how an alien feels when he visits this planet. I'm sure Kyle felt that way when he first arrived from Mars.

I dressed as casual as possible for the fight; just jeans and a T. Graham said the coach would give me shorts when I arrived, and that I could wear normal sneakers provided they had white non-slip soles. I borrowed Bob's squash shoes. "I'm totally pissed I can't be there to watch you," he bitched. "I'd love to see you wipe the floor with that ego-infested moron."

After all the advice and training, there was no way known I'd lose to Craig. Brett advised me to allow Craig to channel all his energy into his attitude while I channeled mine into my head and fists. Hey, I'm nervous. Make no mistake about that.
When I walked into that school, so familiar to Kyle and Graham, I felt like an intruder--familiar territory for them but totally foreign territory to me. Even late afternoon, a lot of students remained in the grounds, probably just to gawk at me.

Graham greeted me at the front gate and accompanied me to the gym hall. A couple of guys wolf-whistled and gave me the hairy eyeball. One of them was the same guy who took a swipe at me during my last encounter with Craig. At least, from what I understood, he wasn't allowed to watch this fight.

It was then I asked myself the question: What the fuck am I doing here? I'm a lover not a fighter. But this mess needed to be sorted once and for all, something that demanded to be faced. Otherwise, I'd be constantly on the run and catching fives.

The grommet wore a school tracksuit and looked like he owned the joint. He also appeared more nervous than I felt--and I felt bloody nervous! Not so much nervous about the fight any more, I'd passed that stage. It was because I was on strange ground--a stranger viewed with suspicion. These were the grounds and buildings Kyle thought the world of--his home away from home.

I followed Graham to the `visitors' dressing room, which made me smile. I was the enemy there. The gloves given me were lighter than my own, which I guessed prevented less damage to the opponent. Graham then handed me headgear, box, shorts and gumguard. "Whose is this?" I asked.

"Mine. I use it for rugby. But it's cool; you can use it. I soaked it in warm water so you need to bite into it and let it mold to your teeth."

The gumguard felt like a brick in my mouth; huge and somewhat uncomfortable. "How many people are here?"

"Don't sweat. Only five. You, me, coach, Craig and Jonathon."


"Craig's sparring partner and second. Hey, you look cool, man. Ready? Because we need to go through to the gym when you're ready."

"Got a spare singlet or something?"

"Nah, but it's cool. And you look great. Now calm down, Stuart. You ready?"