Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gardening 101

I had been so mean to Jeremy (see Construction House Pee Party and King of the Hill for details). I peed on him, alienated him from all the other children in our neighbourhood, and sliced open his forehead with a stick. I even indirectly gouged his leg with a rebar. And what did Jeremy do to deserve this treatment? Maybe it was the messy hair. Maybe it was the yellowed teeth. Maybe it was the distinct stale body odour that he and his home shared. Maybe he had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the reason, he had been labelled by his peers as a "loser," and for that he was punished.

I cannot speak for Jeremy and all of his experiences, but to the best of my knowledge, what happened to Jeremy after the incident on the hill was arguably the worst. Weeks after the events of my previous entry, "King of the Hill," the dust had settled. At the time that I won the "battle" with Jeremy on the hill, I had felt bad as I watched him limp away while clutching his head and leg. But just as time healed Jeremy's wounds (the physical, anyway), it helped dull my guilt.

It was a beautiful sunny autumn day. Walking back from Treasure Cove Comics and Collectibles, Nick, Michael, and I passed Jeremy's home on our way back to my place. While we passed Jeremy's house, Jeremy was sitting on the front stoop by himself. I remember giving Jeremy a look of daggers but I said nothing. However, Nick decided that he had something to say.

In the case of flashbulb memories, I find that the details that surround the "flashbulb" portion become muddied, and so I do not recall the exchange between Nick and Jeremy. The tone, however, was aggressive and crude. Nick insulted Jeremy. Jeremy insulted Nick. Back and forth it went, all the while escalating in volume and content. Before Michael and I knew it, Nick and Jeremy were pushing and shoving each other on the front lawn.

A responsible person would have interjected. I don't care what anyone says; fighting solves nothing. You win the fist fight, he brings a knife the next time. Then you bring a gun. Then he brings friends with guns. Then someone dies and friends and families of the deceased seek revenge and it keeps going. Worse and worse. Violence breeds more violence and nothing is resolved.

But I'm a very different person now than I was then. Back then, I just stood by with my cousin Michael and watched Nick and Jeremy wrestle on the grass. The fight itself was mundane at best. A lot of rolling around and attempted holds (Jeremy was a fan of the full nelson). A few punches thrown here and there, but it was, for the most part, a whole lot of swearing and dry humping. Soon, however, things got a lot more interesting...

Begin flashbulb!

Nick and Jeremy were kneeling on the ground. Nick was behind Jeremy with his left arm around Jeremy's neck. Nick had Jeremy in a respectable headlock. I yelled to Nick instructions on how to tighten the headlock and make things more difficult for Jeremy. At my suggestion, Nick put his right arm behind Jeremy's neck and grasped onto his own left upper arm. Jeremy made a choking noise as his airway had been (likely partially) obstructed. Jeremy, seemingly in a panic, pushed his body backwards, and sending Nick into a small evergreen tree. Nick yelped as the pins pressed into his body. Nick then yelled "fuck you, asshole" and Nick pushed himself forward, sending Jeremy back to his knees.

What no one had noticed was that there was something hiding in the shade of the tree:

A Garden Weasel. A tool used for turning and loosening soil for planting, its presence there was inexplicable as no work under the tree had been done. It was just tossed there, a good fifteen feet from the flower bed (which was also not being maintained). It was almost as though it materialized there solely for what was about to happen.

As Jeremy came back down to his knees, he did not seem to see the Garden Weasel either. His right knee landed squarely on one of the blades and it burrowed into him like a hot knife through butter. Jeremy fell forward onto his hands. Nick, seeing what happened, told Jeremy "that's what you get" and returned to the sidewalk where Michael and I watched in disbelief. Jeremy lifted his knee off of the Garden Weasel, the blade notably saturated in blood. A small tear in Jeremy's pant leg was the only evidence of injury, but judging from the sheer size of the blade, and how far Jeremy's knee went down on the blade, there was much more than met the eye.

Jeremy hobbled up the front lawn and then up the front stoop. It appeared as though he was unable or unwilling to use his right leg as he braced against the house while he climbed the steps. Jeremy said nothing. Gave nothing. No cursing, no squealing, no screams of agony. He turned the handle of his front door and went inside. And then we heard it.

An ear-shattering, blood-curdling cry. Jeremy's silence as he returned to his house was merely an act for his benefit and/or ours. Once the door was closed, he let everything out. None of us laughed when we heard the scream. We ran. Ran like hell. There would be time to laugh later. But at the time, we had to get away.

Years after the incident, I found out that the damage caused by the Garden Weasel was nothing permanent. Left with a scar, Jeremy did not lose any functionality in his knee or leg. He mentioned that when it got cold out, his knee ached, but aside from that it was all fine. Despite the fact that Jeremy and I became "friends" again in our high school years, Jeremy never forgot what happened. Jeremy also told me that he blamed me for what happened. And I accepted that blame. Just because I wasn't the one who forced him onto the gardening tool didn't mean it wasn't my fault. I poisoned Nick's mind, as Nick only knew about Jeremy what I told him. Well, that and Nick was also angry with Jeremy for tattling on us. I also stood and watched instead of intervening and sparing someone serious injury. It was my fault as much as anyone else.

While there are other stories about me and Jeremy that will eventually see the light in my blog, none of them took place after this event. We were friends some time after the Garden Weasel incident, but it was never a "real" friendship. It was of convenience, when neither of us had anything better to do. There was also a sense of animosity between us. Jeremy had never really forgiven nor forgotten. Nor should he.

I'm not sure where Jeremy is now. He met a sweet girl with a plain appearance and highly religious lifestyle, which Jeremy had adhered to quite happily. Last I heard, he had two kids, was still working with the army, and was living somewhere in Saskatchewan. Good for him. He deserves better than what he got during his childhood, particularly from me. I first became friends with him because he had a Nintendo and always made delicious turnovers when we hung out to play the Nintendo. I then used him because he got some cool Ninja Turtle figures that I did not then have. After that, I used him to visit his home and sift through his father's dirty motorcycle magazines (your classic naked woman draped over a motorcycle kind of deal that was great reading material for a pre-teen boy). I pissed in his car, pissed on him, and made him bleed. I twisted truths and spread rumours about him that led to a seemingly universal hatred of Jeremy by others in the neighbourhood. I also stood idly by and did nothing while Jeremy was impaled by a gardening utensil. Yeah, I wasn't the best friend to him. Fortunately, he seems to have found what he deserves, and for what it's worth, I wish him the best.

Yes, I was such a mean kid. But say what you will, it makes for great stories. Just don't rub me the wrong never quite know where a Garden Weasel might be hiding.

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