Sunday, March 26, 2006

Two-a-Side Suicide

We were playing two-a-side suicide and somehow Aquarius and I
wound up as partners. My buddies and I played almost every
day after school. On the grass behind the lunch shed. We were
probably too old for it at the time but it's a really good
game. I'd play right now if I could.

"Do you know the rules?" I asked.

"Sure. Don't get whacked."

She was right. That was pretty much the only rule. If you got
whacked your partner had to commit suicide. Not real suicide.
He had to strip down to his undies, rub butter all over his
belly and legs, and then roll around in the dirt.

Back then there was nothing worse.

"Right," I said. "Don't get whacked."

The beauty of the game was that you had to have your
partner's back. If you get whacked, he's the one who has to
commit suicide.

Usually I would partner up with Moon Dog. He knew when to go
left.

"Go left. Go left," I shouted at Aquarius. She was
hot-dogging.

"Duck! Duck!" she yelled back.

And then, whack! Right in the back of the neck. I fell to the
ground.

"I'm hit!" I cried. "I'm down."

Aquarius stopped dead. "What?"

She had the look. I never saw a suicider who didn't get that
look.

The other guys were laughing. Teasing. "Butter up bitch."

I expected her to run. Guys had tried that before. But she
unbuttoned her shirt right where she stood. No hesitating. No
balking.

Gas Can grabbed a tub of butter from his backpack. His real
name was Gary but there were five Garys in our class.

Aquarius threw her shirt to the ground. She looked dead at
me. Blank. Not angry but disappointed. I've let her down a
few times since then. But it's never hurt like that. I
couldn't move.

Her skirt fell down to her ankles. I'm sure the guys were all
heckling but in my head it was silent like midnight at the
park.

And then, as Aquarius smeared butter on her bare belly, I
started to cry.

She rolled around in the dirt patch just like we'd all done a
hundred times. Then it was over. As she stood up I reeled
backwards. Suddenly she was beautiful. Grass and sand and
candy wrappers stuck to her panties and legs and stomach. But
somehow her bra had survived the dirt-roll. It was pitch
white and I could see her dark nipples through the cotton.

She looked up at me through her dirty bangs.

"Thanks," she said with a wry chuckle. "Can you grab my
backpack?"

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