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Ardsley: Marked Man - Part Two

    I was not completely comfortable with getting in the car with Eddie.  You see, we had never met face to face before, but we knew a lot about each other. Of course it had to be about a girl and, again, about I not knowing when to keep my mouth shut.
    I was in Catholic school at the time. It was the summer between ninth and tenth grade. To say I was the least popular guy on the bus would be a misstatement. I was not unpopular, I was well known, mostly for pushing pencils up the middle aisle of the bus with my nose.
    The group of older boys that encouraged this was made up of Sean Sullivan, Desmond and Peter.  At the time I would have sworn Sean was put on this earth only to terrorize me. Desmond and Peter just played along with whatever Sean said, truly representative of the word 'minion'.
     While they were punching me, spitting on me, throwing my shoes out the window of the bus and all sorts of other activities, I was trying to win them over with clever wit and respect.  This was just plain dumb and I failed every time.
     One time I thought I would have the perfect way in.  A girl I know introduced me to a friend of hers who asked if I knew any of these same guys.  I asked her why and she mentioned that she was fooling around with Desmond over the weekend. Wow, I thought, I know Desmondís girlfriend.
     The next day on the bus Desmond was not there. I told Peter and Sean about this girl. They got back to Desmond, who said he was not fooling around with this girl. He wondered why the hell I would be making up stories like this.  It turns out the girl had a boyfriend that was not Desmond.  Welcome Eddie Turco to my life.
     His girlfriend said I did meet her but that I was crazy and tried to have sex with her.  I made up the story about Desmond, she said, to get back at her.
     Eddie believed her! And then went out and bought an axe handle.  He showed this thing to anyone who would look for it. On the handle he had carved my name and "  /  /84".  He was going to fill in the date once he clobbered me with it.
     He was still hunting for me the night Arthur was rolling me in the parking lot.  But assumed pain is better than actual pain, so I got in the car.
     We pulled out of the parking lot and I could see fear in the eyes of some of the girls that had come down when Eddie showed up.  If they had not seen the axe handle they had surely heard about it.  I think everyone was look at me with the finality of watching a casket being lowered into the ground.
    Onto the main road and Eddie turned down the radio.  He stuck out his hand and said, "Eddie".  I shook his hand out of conditioned response and said, "Liam---but you know that.  I suppose this had to happen eventually."
    "Yeah, good thing it didn't happen till now, though." He said to me and then he went into the story about finding out that his girlfriend was less than honest about everything. In fact, she was just a waste of time.  He was looking for me still, but now only to say that I wasn't marked anymore.
     We parked somewhere and smoked cigarettes for awhile talking about jerks we knew, like Sean and Arthur and girls we knew. Then he gave me a ride home. We shook hands again and said Good-night.  We didn't make an effort to see each other again, but we caught up when we found ourselves in similar crowds. You know it was kind of amazing to me that a guy went from my worst nightmare to a hell of a guy.
     Another benefit was Arthur wasn't quite so violent anymore.  He'd still say stuff and follow it up with, "Oh, where's your protection now? Nowhere, I can still get you."  But we both knew he wouldn't. You didn't want to be on Eddie's bad side.

Posted: August 3, 2005 ,   Modified: August 27, 2005

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