Saturday, December 29

Faking Epileptic Fits

HE ASKED ALL the other kids for lunch money but none of them gave it to him. He followed me around the German city. I didn’t mind because I would only have wandered around alone anyway. He was impressed with my pointless knowledge about weapons – ‘They have this thing that they shoot at you and it makes you piss yourself.’ ‘Wow.’
I bought us lunch in a fast food place and we ended up eating each other’s chips.
He was popular because he was funny, strong and the number-one goalie for our year’s football team – a team I occasionally made appearances in as a winger, but as everyone else grew taller, my appearances became rarer.
I had made a new friend that day in Aachen.
On the bus journey back to England, he introduced me to Nirvana. ‘You’ve never heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? It’s that song, you know, “When the light’s out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are now. Entertain us!” You know the one?’ I didn’t, so he played it on his walkman and I recognised it a little. From then on I listened to Nirvana and Marilyn Manson, and all of the music I listen to now can be traced back to that moment on the bus from England to Aachen.
We remained friends. He entertained me unfailingly: faking epileptic fits when he didn’t know the answers to a teacher’s questions, turning lessons into wrestling matches, making a teacher cry, spitting paper at a crucifix during an exam, smashing a tape player in front of some year sevens’ who had worked so hard on the recording, gluing pieces of paper to his leg and setting them on fire. He was a little unbalanced.
At a party in college he met a professional wrestler and his life was changed, just like mine was on the bus from Aachen. He trained and eventually got accepted to start wrestling professionally; only he is a little crazy, knocking the teeth out of an audience member and dancing in front of a disabled child in the front row.
On Christmas eve I was sat outside a caf’ smoking and finishing my coffee when he walked past and we started talking. We talked about old times and our friend who went missing in May. His laugh was as insane as it ever was. He was dressed in his trademark leather jacket. He walked off when I said that I had shopping to do.

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