Utterly captivated, the audience held their breathe in unison as the final crescendo soared high above the upper tiers of the theatre, a mighty eagle boasting its majesty. In perfect cadence, the famed musician skilfully concluded the concerto and gripped the neck of his violin with vice like force, revealing the whites of his knuckles in sickening anticipation of the uncertain applause. Deafening silence hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. Gentle murmurs and conniving sniggers gradually emerged from the sonic void until suddenly, reality was reinstated in typically depressing style.
“Sometime before Christmas would be good Mozfart!” Cried one of the jocks from the back row of the mould infested school hall. A tremendous roar of laughter ensured young Henry Fredricks, violin prodigy, chess master and reining champion of the national Dungeons and Dragons league, would retain his position at the pooey end of the social caterpillar. It was a position he had grown painfully used to over the past 6 years of high school.
Most mornings, Henry struggled to find a space to park his Mum’s Toyota Yaris as Tom Armstrong, king pin of the school, would manoeuvre his brand new SS Holden ute to block any spot Henry chose. Captain of the football team, host of the loosest drug-fuelled parties and passionate lover of the angelic Rachael Hanson, Tom Armstrong seemed to have it all, and would do almost anything within his formidable schoolyard power to keep things that way.
Henry and Tom had fewer things in common than a Nun and a homosexual brothel owner. For one, Henry despised football and sports in general, accredited to his ‘red-arse’ debut in year 7, when his tailbone was shattered by virtue of an illegal follow through. Henry also hated parties. This was partly due to his total abhorrence of people, but owed largely to a bad trip he experienced after Tom spiked his soft drink with acid, sending him into a state of zealous worship, which reached its zenith when he poured dishwashing liquid over his naked body and cried, “master, cleanse me of my sins!”
Yet even though these schoolyard enemies embodied the definition of polar opposites, they did in fact share a single common desire. The claim to Rachael Hanson’s heart. Draped elegantly upon delicate shoulders, her jet-black hair glowed softly when sunlight hit at a certain angle, setting off the alluring lustre of deep green eyes and the spellbinding radiance of the sweetest smile, prompting Henry to occasionally carry his Star Trek binder folder over the crotch of his tatty school shorts. She was funny too. And smart. Top of the class in English. But, most importantly, she was the only girl to ever strike up a conversation with Henry Fredricks, who enjoyed this rare female contact even more than the Star Trek femme fatales who usually fuelled his boyish fantasies.
He knew he didn’t stand a chance of winning her over, even though deep down he was sure they were meant for each other. That’s how Henry Fredricks, super geek, found himself wallowing in a puddle of self-pity as the entire school laughed and jeered in response to the nervous breakdown he was currently experiencing centre stage. Fit like spasms possessed his limbs and, due to his engrossing numbness, he’d failed to notice the warm trickle of urine that meandered down the banks of his trousers, a reaction to the crippling anxiety that preluded his violin performance.
He’d composed an entire score in dedication to his beloved Rachael. Rehearsed it over and over, until his fingers cracked and bled. Now, in place of the bodily fluid he now scrubbed off his legs, it had all gone down the toilet.
With astonishing force, he hurled his precious instrument into the hysterical audience, whose laughter was cut short and replaced by blood curdling screams. The elegant projectile was on a direct coarse with a group of girls, who threw their arms above their heads and dove underneath their gum infested chairs as if the Germans were coming. The head of PE, Mr Mansfield, was impressed by Henry’s textbook javelin throw and was already pursuing the enraged student to invite him onto the athletics team.
But Henry was long gone, sprinting, with enough speed to cement his place in the Olympic team, towards the boys change rooms. He skidded around the penultimate corner, charge down the final straight, slammed through the doors with the force of a true athlete and came to an almighty halt upon hearing the agonising cry of an all too familiar voice. Unable to move, Mr McKay lay flat on his belly, bound by the trousers around his ankles, clutching at his nose, which now resembled the open floodgates of the Nile during the plagues, with a crinkled Playboy magazine.
“Sorry sir! I didn’t see you there sir!” He blubbered between great anxious breaths.
“Never mind young lad,” sympathised Mr McKay as he reached for the hem of his underpants in desperation. “Just help me up would you?”
Henry under hooked the shoulders of the obese man and heaved him up off the floor. “Turn around lad!” He shouted, before wiggling and giggling his gargantuan belly into his briefs and hoisting up his XXXL trousers. He dropped his voice to a growling murmur, “And don’t you dare tell a soul about this here lad,” holding up the now bloody adult magazine into the dull yellow light.
Henry jerked his head back in disgust, confirming all the rumours surrounding the hippo like woodwork teacher, who was said to be on parole for child molestation. He leaned back even further as the predator advanced right up into his grill.
“You been sobbing again boy?” He probed.
“No!” Rebutted Henry.
“No use lying lad, ya eyes are all red.” He sucked in a great lung full of the dank air, which was heavy with body odour and Lynx Africa. “You either have a bad case of pink eye, or that low life excuse for a human Tom Armstrong has been stirring ya up again, eh?”
“He doesn’t scare me anymore.”
“But he still has your girl.”
Henry shot a piercing glare towards the loathsome teacher before snarling and clenching his fists. With an empathetic chuckle Mr Mackay shook his head and, with refreshingly uncharacteristic compassion, offered a golden word of advice that would resonate like gospel for Henry Fredricks for the rest of his days.
“Don’t you worry lad, nerds will rule the world one day!”
To be continued…