You don’t know how you’re going to react in a real world emergency situation until you’re actually in one. There was a thing on telly about plane crashes. In a plane crash there are two kinds of people, those that will scramble over the faces of other trapped passengers and those that just sit there and let their faces be scrambled upon.
I honestly don’t know which one I am.
I’m probably the third way. I like to think it would be the third way for me. I imagine I’d carry everybody out. I’m not saying I’d be a hero but I would definitely act like one. That’s what I like to think. The press would interview me and I’d say, “I’m not a hero, I was frightened, very frightened, so I can’t be a hero, I just acted without thinking, like a hero. The World’s Greatest Fucking Hero.”
Some of the passengers I saved were probably wealthy and they’d try and give me money but I wouldn’t take it but they’d send it to me so I had no choice and the airline would give me free first-class flights forever. To anywhere in the world. And the captain would announce I was on-board and all the other passengers would clap wildly. I’d calm them with my hands and say, “come on, calm it, yeah? I’m just a regular guy.” And I’d wink at them and sit down and the air-hostess would bring me a pillow. I’d thank her and ask her what films they were showing. She’d reply, “all the best ones.”
It was very windy this morning. It still is now. It’s been windy all year. It’s not warm either and my hair is quite long now and it was whipping my face as I walked to work. Because of the conditions I was actually looking forward to getting inside but that changed as I walked along the window and saw Wellington totally beating on Enrique. Instinctively I bent and touched my shoes, almost pretending I was fiddling with my shoelaces but not quite and I continued walking doubled over and hidden past the doors and around the corner. Once safe I stood and considered my options. I clearly hadn’t burst through the door and separated them, but why? That’s what I had to consider. There was clearly something in my normally heroic instincts that has stopped me, but what? I needed to remain calm and consider my options.
Wellington could definitely kick my head in. That was obvious. Would he though? It was possible. Although I’ve been nothing but pleasant to his face I’ve said some rather questionable things about him in private. Things I’d never intended to get back to Wellington. Perhaps they’d got back to him? If I went in and was knocked out instantly it wouldn’t have helped anybody, an unconscious hero is no hero at all. I also had to keep in mind that Enrique probably deserved the beating he was receiving. That’s why I hadn’t gone in and held Wellington in a head-lock until he was calm, allowing Enrique the time to skitter backwards on his arse into his office. Yeah, I was still a hero.
Happy in the knowledge I’d acted correctly I went to the corner and peeped around it. Enrique hadn’t been thrown through the window and that was good. I took a few deep breaths and waited for Paula to arrive. Paula has a red Ford Fiesta and I was happy to see it. She looked at Wellington’s truck with confusion when she got out of her car. She didn’t expect Wellington to be here. It was a shock to her. Welcome to the club! I stuck my head out further so Paula could see it and she looked at me and then she looked into the shop and smiled and sped up.
“What’s happening?” I asked when she was close to the doors. She could see in the shop whereas I couldn’t. She didn’t reply or look concerned so I followed her in. Wellington and Enrique were stood facing each other in front of my counter but they were relaxed and laughing and not fighting. They had been fighting. I’d seen it.
“Okay guys?” I asked but that too was ignored. I heard Paula quizzing Wellington as to why he was present. He’d popped in on the way to work. He’d been showing Enrique some Tae Kwon Do of course. That was a normal thing to be doing so early in the morning. Stupid fucking people. “I thought Wellington was battering you,” I said to Enrique. Enrique laughed. “He could batter you though,” I added. “He’d fuck your shit up.”
“Ooh, I not so sure now I don’t think,” he laughed and put his arms up, shielding his chest with vertical forearms.
“You could batter him, right?” I asked Wellington, gesturing to Enrique with a flick of my head which also took the hair from my eyes.
“Ah! He’s pretty good actually, he’s a natural,” said Wellington looking at Enrique and nodding and smiling with his lovely smile. Great teeth. Not like mine.
“But if he said something really bad. Or touched Paula inappropriately. You could probably kill him, right?” I said that with my lips rigid over my teeth.
“I…” said Wellington.
“I mean, if you found Enrique rapi-“
“Yeah, alright,” said Paula getting involved when it wasn’t necessary. “I reckon he could batter you.”
“Who, Wellington?” I asked.
“Definitely Wellington, but Enrique, he could batter you.” She said. She wasn’t smiling, she was smirking.
“No chance,” I told her looking Enrique up and down to check. I could batter him. He was shorter than me.
“Come at me!” Enrique said, parting his legs and bending his knees slightly while waving me forward. His face had never looked so punchable. It wore a wide grin and open eyes. “Come on, you fuck!” Enrique said then he looked at his feet to check he had adopted the correct stance, content he had he looked back at me and smiled again
“I’d knock your hat off, mate.” I told him.
“Try and punch him,” said Wellington. I looked at Enrique. He was nodding and bouncing from the knees so with a sigh I let my rucksack slide from my shoulder to the floor and took my jacket off and laid it on the counter.
“You don’t reckon I can?” I asked the room while eyeing Enrique’s face.
“I don’t,” said Paula. Wellington didn’t answer. Enrique pulled stupid faces and wobbled his head and waved his fingers at me.
“Okay,” I said. I faced Enrique and smiled. He raised his forearms as a shield once again. “Don’t cry if this hurts,” I warned him. I stood with my hands raised. My right hand slightly ahead of my left. Fingers relaxed. I faked to go near Enrique’s head with my right hand and of course he raised his arms slightly that way and as he did I slammed my left hand, which I’d turned into a fist, towards his stomach. My fist deflected off his elbow and connected just between his solid boney hip bone and his firm but giving stomach. Air whooshed from Enrique’s mouth, his eyes had opened even wider than they’d been and at first I thought he was just going to fall backwards like a statue during a revolution. He teetered backwards, looked like he was going over and then started to fall forward. Again, a few more degrees and he would have face-planted it but he never reached the tipping point. He fell back again so his feet were flat. It was pretty funny.
He stood like that for a bit. I looked at Paula and Wellington, they were shocked by the power my punch packed as well as my lightening speed. “You like that, do you?” I asked kissing my fist but just then Paula’s face changed from Plain Jane shock to one of Plain Jane genuine concern. I ducked for the second time that day, sure Enrique had let rip with a sucker punch towards the back of my head. When nothing hit me I opened my eyes and stood up straight. Enrique was crying and holding his hands which formed an X over the spot I’d hit him.
“You alright, mate?” Asked Wellington.
“You alright mate, you alright mate,” I mimicked but I was doing his voice a few octaves higher than it was when it came out of his mouth. “He’s alright,” I said tiredly, “you’re alright, aren’t you?” He didn’t look alright. He was really crying, sucking in breath in short staccato bursts, his head tilting back a bit further with each intake. “Yeah, he’s alright,” I confirmed.
Paula was already consoling him. “For fucks sake,” I exhaled, why must people make big dramas out of every fucking thing? Paula was leading Enrique to his office. She looked back at me. “What?” I asked. Before they went through the door Wellington told her he had to go. “I did a running race last night,” I told him. He nodded and then left, leaving me looking at my fucking awesome fist. It hurt a bit but wasn’t broken. I thought about how I’d describe the incident to the press.
Paula called me a dick when she came out. I said that it was her boyfriend who was the dick for teaching Enrique, almost certainly a rapist, tricks on how to overpower women. She just shook her head. She checked on Enrique a few times through the morning but he didn’t come out until about 11am. I apologised and he accepted it and then it was awkward. Later I sidled over to Paula.
“Paula,” I said.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Don’t tell Wellington I said he was a dick,” I said.
“Or this!” I said holding up the fist that had dealt so much damage already this day. “That’s a joke, don’t tell him, yeah? Mate?”