5. Enough is Enough (Part 2)

Posted: October 21, 2014 in Beyond the Boundaries
"You're a disgrace to the club."

“You’re a disgrace to the club.”

Eddo (Reds’ centre-half-back) was up to his usual tricks. He tucked the Sherrin under his hairy left armpit, put his good arm in front of him to fend off opposition players, and made a futile attempt to run the length of the Clayton oval without taking a bounce. Two opposition players dragged him to the turf (couch grass and lumpy dirt) on the half-back-flank.

Shep (the local league’s stuttering umpire) blew his whistle in short staccato bursts, and gave the signal for holding the ball.

“Pig’s fucking arse!” Eddo removed the clump of couch grass from his mouth, and hoiked the Sherrin as far as he could over the fence – beyond the row of spectators’ cars, onto Stationmaster’s Terrace.

Shep blew his whistle again. “Th-th-th … That’s f-f-f … fifteen metres.” Shep paced out the distance of the free, which was more like thirty.

“No fucking way!” Eddo pushed one of his tacklers to the ground, and stood over him, bully fashion.

Shep blew his whistle again. “Th-th-th … that’s th-th-th … thirtyl!”

The opposition player escaped the tangle of Eddo’s legs, and the neck-lock of liniment-stained, strawberry-blonde Ranga hairs.

Shep paced out a forty-metre fifteen this time, and guided the opposition player to the edge of the ten-metre square.

Eddo’s two younger brothers, Steve and Alan, decided to avenge their off-field grudges on-field. They stood wrestling each other on the half-back-flank as play continued on-and-around them.

Stan sent Arnie out to separate them. Alan accidentally knocked Arnie to the ground with a roundarm meant for Steve.

Eddo ran across to separate his brothers. He put Steve in a headlock, dragged him to the ground, and open-palmed Alan across the back of the head.

“You piss-weak cunt. Pick on someone your own age.”

At half time, the Reds players trudged into the change shed, socks down and guernseys out. Arnie lay recuperating on the rub-down bench. Steve and Alan Edwards were still at it. Steve had his finger almost up Alan’s nostril.

“I told you during the week I’d fix you up.”
“And I told you, you wouldn’t know how to.” Alan smacked Steve’s finger away.

Steve and Alan eyeballed each other. Stan looked anywhere he could except in their direction, and prayed for divine intervention. Joe Edwards – their old man – stomped past Arnie and Stan, and clapped their two heads together like an enraged cymbalist. The crack of skulls was felt by everyone in the change shed. Steve and Alan reeled apart like two world championship wrestlers who’d accidentally made contact and given each other an Irish kiss.

“Grow up, the pair of you. You’re a disgrace to the club. And, Alan, you go straight up to Arnie and apologise.”

“It’s alright. I’m fine.” Arnie raised a lethargic arm and shook his head.

“I don’t care. He can bloody well apologise.”

“Go on.” Old Man Eddo pulled Alan by his guernsey, and shoved him towards Arnie.

“Sorry, Arnie.” Alan moved across, and put his hand on Arnie’s shoulder, checking Steve’s reaction.
“It’s alright.” Arnie waved Alan away. “Forgiven and forgotten. Done and dusted.”
Alan made his way back to the bench, and sat down.

All noise and movement ceased in the change shed. Steve and Alan glared at each other. Old Man Eddo glared at both of them. Eddo glared at all three of them. Stan gazed into the corner as though Bessa brick and concrete had suddenly assumed fascinating qualities. Stillness hung like damp bedsheets. The thickness of the atmosphere suffocated and strangled time. Slowed it to a halt. And prevented it from further movement.

Stan forced his arm upward, and cleared his throat with a timid cough.

“Thanks, Joe.” Stan acknowledged Old Man Eddo with his words but not his eyes. Stan’s words intruded rather than flowed, but restarted time. Each second dragged itself slowly forward again, catching up to its regular beat.

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