He walked towards the schoolgates, his mind racing, remembering things, things that he thought he had long forgotten.
He’d always loved the film Pulp Fiction, especially the part where Samuel L. Jackson stands outside a hotel room door and says to John Travolta, “Okay, time to get into character.”
He could relate to that so well. His whole life seemed to be like that, people expecting him to play a particular role which wasn’t his real self. He played the hard man, always had. It started at school. Because he was bigger than most boys his age he was expected to be the bully. So that’s what he became. He played the role well.
He beat up kids two or three years older than him, it was easy, he just put on an act, threatened them with violence, most times they just did as he wanted, if they didn’t he hit them. He’d never lost a fight and as years went by he never had to fight anyway, his reputation won his battles.
In his teens he had a technique, always start the fight, never wait for it to come to you, this way you always have the advantage. If confronted by someone he would say something like, “I’m gonna count to five, if you don’t move out of my way by then, I’ll do you some serious damage.” Of course he never, ever, got to five. His opponent would expect something to happen at three, but he was wrong. He always hit at number one. Hard, always as hard as he could. What was the point of hitting someone softly; it just gives them a chance to come back at you. So no, hit every time as hard as you can.
His favourite was the head butt; he could hit someone with his forehead with extreme precision. He was six feet three and taller than most, making it easy to head downwards onto his opponents nose. The bridge of the nose was his favourite part of the face, hit this hard and the nose will break, causing all sorts of problems, not just pain, but breathing difficulties, blurred vision and confusion. This was usually the end of the contest but just to be sure he would follow up with an uppercut to the jaw. When you hit someone’s nose their natural reaction is to open their mouth to help them breathe, hit someone in the jaw when their mouth is open and it’ll break. Suddenly your opponent is in a world of pain. No coming back from that and it’s all over in seconds.
He remembered the day when he was in his early twenties and three guys decided to throw peanuts at his new girlfriend. They were squaddies from the local barracks and were a bit tanked up, all that testosterone and nowhere to go. He stood up and walked over, all the time remembering the rules. Start it, act quickly and don’t let them hit.
They saw him walking towards them and one by one rose to their feet. As he got closer he decided the order. The guy in the middle was the leader; he had to go first, then the guy on the left, then the other guy. In his mind he gave them numbers, 1, 2 and 3. He smiled at the middle guy.
“Look fellas, we’re just here for some quiet time, no trouble, can I buy you all a drink?”
Number one was taken in and smiled back. He knew he had him, he wouldn’t expect what was about to happen.
He propelled himself forward at number one and caught him with a head butt between the eyes, best part of the face to strike; it connects the nose to the eye sockets and causes immediate blurred vision and tremendous pain. At the same time the palm of his left hand caught number two full in the face, once again the nose was the main target he heard a crack. One and two were now on the floor, he turned to face number three who was now holding his hands up in front of his body in a gesture of surrender. He hit him anyway.
Everything changed when he met Wendy. She knew of his reputation as a hard man but somehow calmed him down. They married and within a year she gave birth to twin girls, Gemma and Carly.
That was ten years ago and in all that time he’d had no fights or any sort of confrontation. He was now a family man. Some people in the town knew him and what he was capable of and gave him a wide berth, but a lot of new people had moved into the area and knew nothing about him. These people just treated him as a regular guy. He liked that, they only saw the new him. No more having to play the hard man.
But that was up until a few minutes ago. Wendy had come back from the school where she worked as a classroom assistant and was upset. He asked her what was wrong, she said nothing, he could tell she was lying. He kept on, asking her over and over again. Then she sat down, cried and told him the truth.
The school caretaker had taken a fancy to her, not much at first just a bit of flirting, he was in his thirties, good looking, single, always polite and smiled at her whenever he saw her. He’d asked her out for a drink a few weeks ago, she was flattered but declined saying that she was married and didn’t do that sort of thing.
Then today when she saw him, he said he had some “knocked off” designer gear for sale that would fit the girls. He said that it was awkward bringing it into the school so he kept it in the boiler room. She agreed to have a look and followed him downstairs to the basement.
That’s when it happened. As soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs he grabbed her, tried to kiss her, she pushed him away, but he started again, got both her hands behind her back and started to kiss her again, he put his hand under her skirt and touched her. She managed to break free and came straight home.
He was now standing outside the main entrance of the school. He smiled and thought back to his favourite film and spoke the words.
“Okay, time to get into character.”
But this time he wasn’t playing a part. This time it was for real…