Read Most of Me Online

Authors: Mark Lumby

Most of Me

BOOK: Most of Me
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The three of us strolled around the corner from Hampshire Avenue, where maple trees shadowed the walkway on both sides of the road. The branches were like fingers failing to catch the sunshine.

“You sure about this?” Ben asked squinting, shading his eyes from the light.

“I mean we won’t think wrong of you or anything,” Jack, the older brother of Ben, put in. He had appealing blue eyes and long brown hair that was matted with sweat across his forehead. All the girls adored him, which made him popular around the guys, too. Jack chuckled, wiping sticky strands of hair from his forehead. “But, I supposed you don't want people calling you chicken either!” He
clucked
.

I threw him a cross glance. We were heading towards Jacobs woods about a mile away; a rope swing and a lake would be our afternoon activity.

“No ones going to call you chicken, Daniel,” Ben assured, and punched Jack on his shoulder. “Jacks just being an arse, right Jack? You might be the new kid in town, but you got nothing to prove…you hear me,” he nudged.

I laughed. “I hear you.”

We pass the
Jumbuck Motor Inn
, where Jack and Ben’s Uncle worked. He wasn’t their real Uncle; he was more of an acquaintance of their Mom. He pruned the hedge on the road side, wearing khaki green overalls where the arms tied around his waist. He wore a grass stained white t-shirt that read, ‘We love Hampton Falls’; love was replaced with a heart shape.

He shouted, “Hey!” at his nephews, (or whatever their relations to him were) raising the shears in the air like some trophy. But they ignored his manors for the sake of looking uncool.

“Yeah…right…sure I am little bro,” he replied, removing his field of vision away from his Uncle by ducking between the two of us. “But it only takes someone to slip up, connect the name with the failure,” he shrugged, and surrendered his hands to the air. “Just saying!”

Ben said, “You’re an ass! You know that? And I suppose you’d be the one doing the connecting?”

“Who…me?” Jack laughed. “Ben, do you have any idea how much that hurts?” Jack gripped his own green striped t’shirt and frantically pounded his chest. He wrapped his arm around me and I was pulled closer, squeezing and nearly being choked. He whispered in my ear, “You do know how important it is for you not to fail?” He grinned, raising an eyebrow. It wasn’t hard to believe why the girls liked him. “I mean, think of the consequences. The humiliation! You’d be exiled.”

“Don’t listen to his
shit
, Daniel,” Ben said.

“No…I always talk
shit
,” he pronounced the word with sharpness, as if he wanted it to mean something. “But this shit, however,” Jack breathed in my ear, “you must really listen to.” He took a deep sigh and said, “
Argh
, but whatever. When we’re done, I’m splitting from you guys.”

“Oh,” said Ben. “How so?”

“Laura Greenley and her friends are hanging out by the lake. She specifically asked me along,” he licked his lips, looking sure of himself, and ran his hand through his hair. “So, my two amigos,” he swung his arms around both Ben and I, “when our paths come to an end, I’m afraid you’re on your own.”

 

***

 

The buildings heading out of town were becoming less and less, thinning down and merging with nature, the smell of moss and trees mixing into a damp cocktail. It was an inviting combination of autumn browns and reds, which held a reminder that summer had gone and winter was around the corner. But still, today was quite warm.

The road came to a bend and just as the change of environment was becoming familiar, the occasional house emerged, hidden behind tall hedgerows and surrounded by trees that were a part of Jacobs wood. We all stopped opposite a narrow road that lead into the wood where our afternoon would be spent…just a road between the three of us and freedom. But first things first, the road needed crossing.

The two brothers dared me to do this. They dared me to play Russian roulette; the road was the smoking gun and the cars the deadly ammunition. It was a game that Jack had invented, so they were
his
rules. And he had a habit of changing them when it suited his humour.

I could have walked away, I suppose, continue high school with a reputation I cared not to inherit. But, no…I couldn't afford to invest a bad reputation at such an early start to a new life. So here it was; my initiation.

The rules were simple. Wait for a vehicle. It could be any type of vehicle; there was no points system on the size. The game wasn’t that technical. But it largely relied on danger. Then, when the car, truck or whatever came around the corner, I would wait a tap on the shoulder - Jack would be doing the tapping - that was my cue to bolt it from one side of the road to the other. If you weren’t hit, then you passed…and vice versa.

There was a gradual flow of traffic heading from town, but nothing too threatening for a game like this. I figured that if I did get hit by a car; it would hurt, hopefully not too much, but I wouldn’t be a chicken.

I prepared myself mentally. Heart in mouth, I nervously patted down my clothes as if they were dusty. I stood on the verge of the curb, heart thumping hard against my chest, hands clammy, biting and nibbling on bottom lip. I readied myself in the best possible way that I could, looked directly ahead, checked left and then right just waiting for the right moment, anticipating a tap on my shoulder. I rocked back and forth, heel to toe, toe to heel. I readied myself mentally if not physically. My body just wanted to walk away from this: chicken out. But my mind wanted it over fast.

One car passed followed by another…two seconds between them.

Then another car…four seconds.

Another…two seconds.

Then there was a break. I could see a blue pickup in the distance; the other side of the road was empty now. I made a calculated guess, or rather just a random one. Seven seconds away. Not long, but time enough.

Now
, I shouted in my head. This was the perfect moment.
Do it now!
I pleaded with them. I looked ahead again, wide eyed, gasping, and listened to the whining hum of engines. My heart was like a box of fire crackers going off at once. I wanted to look over my shoulder, prompt Jack to give the instruction. It was agonising; this was the perfect chance, but I couldn’t go until he said.

At the other side of the road was a narrow lane that head towards Jacobs wood. To the right of the lane, hidden behind overgrown hedgerows was a house. I could only see its side as the front was down the lane, but there was a small oval window as black as anything I’ve ever seen. It cast no reflection, not even from the sun that was directly behind me. Dense black. I stared at the house, and it took my mind off the game. I barely recognised the tap on my right shoulder and Jack laughing the words, “Wake up, retard!” He tapped a warning again before I was eventually shoved onto the road.

I was dazed on first, then panic began to rush from my brain and spread throughout my body. But the adrenaline pumped through my veins like a steam piston, and I bolted across the road. My brain screamed at me to stop, go back! But if I did then I might get hit. I’d made it this far; somehow I’d cleared the first part of the road without so much as a knock. The horn of a vehicle passing from behind ignited my brain into doubt. I think I heard Ben and Jack screaming my name, a panic to their voices. I was on the final side and my legs kept on going, although I could no longer feel them. And then my mind reminded me to
STOP!

So I froze.

I was right in front of the Ford pickup before I had the chance to draw on a second breath. I couldn’t move. My brain had told me to stop, so I had.
For Christ sakes, tell me to go!
I screamed inside my head. It was as if a spell had been placed upon me. I was super glued to the tarmac, although I knew I wasn

t really. I was paralysed by fear and a sense of panic over the consequences of what I had just done, or was doing.
What would Mom say?
I imagined police walking ominously down the corridor of our apartment building. I saw the number 47 on our door. I could see myself lying in a hospital bed, at my funeral, being lowered into the dirt, my name on the tomb stone. Eyes wide, I stared at that blue Ford; the sunlight bounced off its shiny paint finish, nearly blinding me. I think at that point my heart and brain were in the same place; the beats were painfully loud.

Ben and Jack were screaming for me to ‘
move my ass out the way’
. I heard them the once, but then everything fell silent. And after the silence, there was a constant whistle. Fear had stolen both movement and senses.

No drum beating. My thoughts weren't connected to my head, and my body felt like it didn’t belong. Pain was absent, so I wondered if it had already happened. Was I dead? I inspected the tarmac for my body, then down the road where the Ford would have thrown me, if indeed I had been hit. Although I was convinced when a sudden warm breeze brushed through my hair that I was still alive.

I could see the driver. I noticed the sickly beads of sweat from forehead. The seconds ticked slowly. He was preoccupied changing radio stations so he didn

t even realise I was there. ‘
See me!’
my mind screamed. ‘For Gods sakes, s
ee me you damn idiot!’
And no matter how hard I tried to lift my sneakers off the road, I couldn

t.

Adrenaline kicked in and I shook with fear, and glanced desperately over at Ben and Jack hoping that one of them would play the hero and push me away.
Why the hell did you make me go!
Their mouths were yelling at me, but I heard no sound. I knew they were warning me, but I already knew the danger. I think they were as scared as I was. I watched the Ford. That's all I could do. Watch.

Four seconds.

The driver with head down.
You idiot!

Three seconds.

Two...

And that

s when it happened, an icy sensation scurrying like spiders all the way up the right side of my body. A hand grabbed under my arm, and I was launched away from the blue Ford. I landed heavily on the verge amid fallen autumn leaves that littered the grass. A strong breeze started and scattered leaves around me like a tornado. I could smell something stale carried within the wind, too…something rotten. After a couple minutes recovery I grimaced and nursed my back with a few rubs. I searched for the brothers, looked around for the pickup and for the guy who had thrown me aside. The pickup, however, just past casually, oblivious as to what had happened. Oblivious as to how his life could have altered on that particular day, unknowing how carelessly close he came to killing a young boy.

The brothers charged across the road.

Jack said,
“Y
ou

re crazy, you know that?


Yeah, as shit!

added Ben, scratching the back of his ginger head and gazing down the road at that blue Ford as though he was trying to intimidate the driver who wasn’t even aware that he was being watched. I could smell cigarette smoke, presumably from the open window of the vehicle that was by now turning right at the junction.

Jack whipping off his baseball cap. “Aren’t you supposed to wait for the tap?”

“What do you mean?” I said, still nursing the side where I had landed. “You tapped me! Hell, it was nearly a push!”

Ben and Jack glanced an each other. Jack said, “no, bro! We were as surprised as you when you jumped! That was too close! Even I wouldn't send you out that close!”

I looked up at Ben.

“He’s telling you the truth, Dan,” Ben assured. “We did nothing.”

I thought they were fooling around at first. “But someone did tap me; I felt a tap for Christ sakes!”

“Not from us,” Jack said. Then he muttered to himself, “You’re tapped, bro.”


What!
” I snarled.

“Oh…nothing. D
idn

t think you

d make it, though,

slapping me on the back.


Thought you were a gonna, for sure,

Ben put in.

I looked around, curious but confused.

Where

d he go?

I gasped.

“Where’d who go?”
asked Ben,

The Ford’s gone, disappeared round the corner,

and put his hand down his pants to scratch an itchy testicle - he had a habit for doing that.

I narrowly looked up at them, shielding my eyes from the blazing hot sun.

Didn

t you see him?


See what?” Jack shrugged.

“The mister for Christ sakes! He
saved my life…picked me up and threw me. I’m certain it was a
he
, anyhow.

Ben and Jack gave one another a confused glance.
“Y
ou feeling okay, Dan?
” Ben asked.

Jack admitted,
“W
e saw no-one…just you, me and ball scratcher, here.” He slapped Ben on the shoulder. “Sure you didn

t just bump your head on the way down?

He squinted at the sun light with a twisted snarl.

BOOK: Most of Me
6.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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