Friday, October 1, 2010

Wise Men at War

I have no way of knowing what happened to GalPal. We stopped communicating. On the other hand, all my calls to The Ex were dial tone repeating to infinity and never answered. Unlike before, when I was single and unbothered, now I’d felt a taste for relationships and the tease of it had me hunting like a junkie. The days went by and I became so intensely aware of my unhappiness that I felt madness beginning to get its cold grip on my brain. Confused, I turned to books, poetry and philosophy.

More potent means of keeping it all together were available; in those days I had not yet forsworn alcohol. Thus I occasionally found myself at a disreputable joint occasioned by students looking to get drunk, lucky or preferably both. It quickly became clear to me that sitting I these environs with the Wise Men, my team mates from the soccer team who only became Wise Men when alcohol flooded their bloodstreams, was a form of therapy. It mainly involved sexist statements, politically incorrect exclamations not defensible in a court of law and even brazen catcalls at similarly drunken ladies. Good times.

Once, a Wise Man named John had enough to drink rather earlier than the others and he decided to leave in the company of a Wise Lady. The soiree continued merrily enough for a while without him, truisms were synthesized and lies were traded with alacrity as usual; but briefly, reports came to us from outside that Wise Man John had got himself in a fight just outside the premises. We rushed outside, rallying to his aid in various states of stability. There we saw Wise John, unwisely throwing punches against an opposition of many, as his Wise Lady propped herself against the wall with her arms crossed and her eyes sleepy. A battery of swear words arose from the lot of Wise Men which would have put our wisdom in question, and then we all swung into action. Trust sports fraternities to help a member.

Our anger, inebriation and sense of outrage fuelled our rash action above any sense of rationality. It was a mismatch; they were more than us, not as drunk, and were evidently all gym-freaks. At any rate, the struggle was good while it lasted, because we threw ourselves into it bodily. I absorbed a few memorable kicks in my ribcage and landed a number of square right hooks which made my wrist throb with pain for weeks afterwards. I saw a Wise Man rolling in the dust under the forcing of many pairs of chunky boots, and soon, other Wise Men swarmed to his aid, their fists and shoes arcing dangerously as they effectively abandoned their fight partners - who didn’t take kindly to the gesture and so followed the Wise Men to their Crusades. A free-for-all ensued at that spot at which participants liberally baptized the mothers of others with names proscribed in civilized society. On my part I launched myself into the fracas, grabbed one of the enemy’s weaklings by the collar, took him aside and fixed him a number of punches in his midsection. It became darker as our fighting mass moved further away from the lights, so that there were sharp and startling noises emanating from funny directions in the dark and one could not really tell who was a Wise Man and who was a Gym Freak. Amidst the confusion, and I think I absorbed some friendly fire, my chosen weakling took off running on long legs the instant my hold on his shirt loosened enough for him to yank himself out of my grasp. I gave chase and someone else gave chase after me.

The chase was short, as I am fast. I caught up with the hated weakling under a security light. Recognition made me freeze: it was Lucas, and he too was busy recognizing me, and he looked at me with fear. His knees were shaking (I hope) and he was still panting from his futile running on puny legs (by my estimate). Whoever was chasing me caught up at long last after great effort (did I mention how fast I am?); and he turned out to be a Wise Man who had mistaken me for a Gym Freak. Once he identified me, he was unwilling to let his dedicated run go to waste, so he turned on Lucas while Lucas was still panting and looking at me with a dazed and stunned face; slapped Lucas, violently, using the back of his hand; called Lucas’ father names in rough slang and ordered Lucas to go home. The insults and orders turned out to be redundant as Lucas had already hit the ground running following the slap. The Wise Man and I then ran back to the real fighting.

I discovered a scar on my forehead the next morning; it was raw and red and ugly.

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