Green Room II
Chapter 44

Jeez, what the hell was I laughing at? My ribs hurt all over again after the pummeling, but I knew nothing was broken or fractured. Besides, the pain was worth the elation! Craig actually shook my hand and apologized to Melanie? Woohoo!

That night I phoned Brett and brought him up to speed. "I told you he was a cool bloke, didn't I?" he said.

"Yeah, right. You told me to beat the crap out of him."

"Not quite. But you did anyway. Well done, mate. That's a cool birthday gift."

"How do you mean?"

"You learned to stand up for something you believe in."

A little later, Graham phoned. "You what???"

"I told Mr. T you won the fight."

"I was knocked out, dammit!"

"That was after you won the fight, hehehe."

My dad was equally stoked that I hadn't been damaged. I figured that was his main concern. But I also hoped he might be stoked about what I'd actually accomplished. He always gave the impression he thought I was a wuss in relation to fights and shit like that. Later, I called Melanie to relay Craig's apology. We spoke for ages.

I wonder how Kyle handled fight situations. This whole episode strung me out totally and I wasn't sure I could handle similar situations on a regular basis. Then I thought how Brett looked lately; big, strong and fit, and tried to imagine the sight of Kyle sending Brett to the deck in front of the whole school, back in the days they first met. I honestly couldn't imagine Kyle doing that, but he did. What's more, the spiky-haired scallywag got away with it.

Apart from my concern over the mysterious disappearance of G, I felt good, totally fucking good, especially now that this dispute between Craig and me was sorted. I don't think I disappointed any one. The fact that I had the guts to climb into the ring with that hunk was enough already. At the time, I was tempted to jump into my running shoes and hightail it outta there.

Why is it that people do what they do? Adrenalin, I guessed. Like when you take off on a huge peak in the surf that threatens to hurl you over the falls, but you hang in there and take the drop. Why? The feeling of speed and the power of the wave as it propels you faster and faster. That's the kinda thrill only understood by guys who surf.

On the coming Monday I would write the first of my final papers for the year and the entire school term, English Lit. It was time to focus my mind for the next six weeks on exams and study. I could have done without the recent Craig stress but, hey, it went with the territory.

That week was school valedictory, my last official day at high school AGAIN! I tried to remember the previous year's valedictory but it was a blur. The guys at the time were my mates with whom I spent the whole year. They walked out the gate while I walked back in to repeat my final year.

New mates? Yeah, right. They saw me as a fucked-up druggie riding in my dad's wallet. A few of the new guys became mates--no, actually more like acquaintances. They fell into the same group, snorting and lining. Mates or customers? I wasn't sure. Maybe a bit of both.

Bob didn't expect me to attend school on the morning of the valedictory. "I didn't think Craig would let you walk out of there, not even if you did flatten him. You know what I mean, Stuart--he and his goon squad."

Hahahaha! Yeah, so it was cool--just a bit of a cheek bruise was all, kinda like a medal of honor, and the fact that I actually got into the ring with that vicious mother.

Fuck! G had a heart attack. I just received an email from one of his friends. So what was this? A replay of Kyle's accident? Was I being tested to see if I could handle it a second time around? WELL, FUCK YOU BECAUSE I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE! I shouldn't have checked my mail. That was all. Cream the system. G was right, it's all over. All I wanted to do right then was lie down on my bed, which I did, then this damn nightmare would be over, and would turn out to be just a dream. I'd stressed G to the limit with all my shit, and now this.

Wednesday night I checked my mail again. Everyone told me to check G's web site because a news item was posted with a picture of G wearing his apprentice angel outfit, and sitting in a hospital bed like there was nothing wrong. I read the news post and gathered that he was home again. Whew! So I finished up my latest email and sent it. Still no mail from him, though, so I wasn't sure what cruised beneath that mop of white hair. That uncertainty changed the next day when I received a note from G.

Hey, Stuart, after what I went through I ain't scared of nothin' no more. First off, I gotta say how proud of you I am. You did extremely well with Craig in the ring. I also think the outcome was perfect. You proved you could stand up to that ego-infested bully and give him a thing or two to think about. If you had flattened him, he may not have been so willing to shake your hand and apologize to Melanie. So it all ended well and Graham was happy.

I thought the coach's attitude was cool--a no-nonsense bloke with little time for dickhead lighties.

Yes, you did trip over your ego, but that's okay. It comes with teenage territory. We older guys mellow. Meanwhile, don't be too concerned about who/what you are. For starters, your life is much more entertaining than mine! And that's one hell of an understatement!

So everyone's in a tizz about me? It'll take more than some dumb heart attack to push this fossil off the perch. Nonetheless, I am touched by your concern--but not so good at handling people who make a fuss over me. By the way, I gave my camera to the nurse: "Why on earth do you want me to take a photo of you all wired up in emergency?" "Because I'll never look like this again!"

Congrats again, Stuart, you're a hero.

Getting older has its downside, right? Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tick tick. WHAM! Tick tock tick tock tick tock... That's better, just gotta check on that damn ticker of yours every now and then, G, and make sure the ticks rhyme with the tocks or what-bloody-ever. But the silly old geyser didn't notice the difference between the ticks and the tocks before the WHAM. He missed the whole point of the joke! Why did I bother?

Meanwhile, there was a load of shit going down during the aftermath of the valedictory party. The school head sent letters to all parents about students being spaced and drunk. Hey, if the school was so concerned why didn't it get involved in organizing the party, and ask parents to be more involved? Anyway, the drugs and booze thing has happened for years and all of a sudden there's this hassle. Some parents complained to the school so the head needed to pretend he was interested. Aaaaaggggghhhhhh! I got so pissed off about that. He could stick his letter where the sun don't shine.

Bob arrived while I studied English Lit at home. "Monday is our language paper, Stuart. We write English Language on Monday."

"Bullshit, it's Lit--I checked."

We both checked. Okay, so it was Language. I did the blond thing again. But that was okay, Language wasn't an ace paper and I always did okay with it.

Last night, I visited the Ts with Melanie, Graham and Jacky. The Ts ordered a bucket of KFC while Mrs. T made a special Malva pudding--Graham's fav.

Melanie and Jacky got into a major tongue-wag with Mrs. T--the girl thing--while Graham insisted on re-enacting the whole Craig Vs Steve issue in great detail for the benefit of Mr. T, and had us in stitches. Maybe I was a little dozy in the ring because I didn't remember Craig hitting the canvas 15 times, hahahaha! I remember him with a shiner and a bloody nose but, according to the grommet's version, with its liberal dose of creative license, Craig's face resembled a pumpkin run over by a truck.

Oh, my God, that little bloke was so incredibly funny as he took center stage in the den, mimicking all the actions of my fists flying and Craig hitting the deck. Oh, jeez, if only...!

However, Mr. T didn't believe a word of Graham's melodramatic account but, nonetheless, continued to encourage the little actor to finish his story. The more Graham worked himself up, the more damage Craig suffered, and the more dramatic the grommet's performance became. Anyway, the night remained a celebration of my relatively unscathed survival.

Mr. T related the story of a couple of fights he had as a youngster. "I was about Graham's age but bigger than most juniors so the coach put me in the ring with a senior. I received the worst hiding of my life because the senior assumed I was the same age as he! I only had myself to blame. I told the coach I could take on that senior and win. I was cocky. Are you listening, Graham? Are you paying attention?"

"Yep," the grommet nodded.

"I couldn't box for months after that because I was so badly messed up."

"So why did you do it?"

"Like I said, I was cocky. Do I remind you of anyone?"



"Me, hehehehe."

"That incident taught me a lesson, a huge lesson. It taught me that I wasn't as invincible as I thought. None of us is."

As Mr. T spoke to Graham, I got the impression he was aware of a lot of the past shit the grommet was involved in, some of which called for Kyle's urgent assistance. However, the evening was so enjoyable we left quite late, and promised a repeat session soon.

Jacky spent the night at Graham's house where she had use of the spare room whenever she slept over. She was always welcome at the grommet's house because his folks liked her immensely. Mr. T drove Melanie and me to her house from where I intended to make my own way home. I needed to spend a few minutes alone with her anyway, and didn't want Mr. T waiting in his car for me.

Melanie and I did really dumb kid things as we said goodnight--kissed and smooched and got each other all worked up, knowing we were destined for separate beds that night.

I left Melanie's place and stopped off at a friend's house at about 1am. Yes, I knew he'd have some weed but I felt like mellowing out with a reefer. He and I talked shit for a while, then I left for home. The trip seemed to take forever. I rolled the reefer as I walked, then smoked it. Talk about a head rush! I hadn't smoked for a while so it was a total zing. I wasn't in the mood for an early night so I played computer games in my room, and got annihilated by the animated demons. Hahahaha!