Occasional Prose

A Most Dangerous Game (Things Heard and Said)

“Heads down!” they commanded. We all put our heads down and covered our eyes. Of everything that could happen in these situations, we always expected the worst. That was for the simple reason that the worst always happpened in these situations.

Their feet shuffled over the floor, any secrecy done out the window with. It seemed like each one would get closer and closer, only to tag their victim and move on. You could hear the exasperated sighs and heavy breathing of anticipation around the small room.

One of them drew near to me. Even with my eyes closed, I could tell who it was. The heels of his boots were too recognizable. I wonder if he even had to think about it. He came over and hit me over the head with unnecessary force, yet there was obviously a bit of restraint involved. Maybe I would live to see another day . . .

“Heads up!” a voice commanded. The room looked like a dozen souls just woke from heavy sleep with weary eyes adjusting to the lights once again. This was the moment of truth.

“You didn’t see anything?” somebody asked one of the others.

“No,” he replied.

“Well, then, who did it?”

He looked around at the lineup, unsure. Several pairs of eyes looked intimidatingly at him. A few seemed to tempt him to give them up, just so they could torment him even further.

“I-I-I don’t know,” he stumbled, eyes trained on Sally.

“You have to give an answer!” he was told, threateningly.

“S-s-sally!” he pointed. “She did it.”

“No.” With that one word, he sank down, defeated.

Now all eyes were trained on me. “Well, C. Who did it?”

I looked at the lineup. Sally was still in the running but I knew it wasn’t her. She wouldn’t risk a cooties epidemic. Al had a mischievous look on his face but it was obviously a distraction; he had figured out how to psychologically manipulate others early on.

That left two. The first was Woodrow. He sported a fancy pair of cowboy boots and would’ve wore the hat if permitted. He seldom had a mean streak though, just a penchant for orneriness. It wasn’t him. Not even close.

It was Mickey.

He smirked, knowingly. It was killing him not to laugh. I must have had a bump on my head or something. It certainly hurt, but watching him try not to laugh somehow hurt too.

“You guys have to start answering faster! We’re running out of time!” There was urgency in the teacher’s voice. There was betrayal in mine.

“Woodrow.”

“You’re out!”

I imagined how I would fight Mickey later on, use my size to my advantage. I would not hold back. Maybe punch him? Kick him? Tell him how he was a damned bully and I was going to lay the hurt on him?

After a few rounds of Heads Up Seven Up, the rainy day activity came to a close. They sent us single file down to lunch. Mickey and I sat together, of course.

“I wish they’d let us play outside in the rain,” he complained.

“That would be more fun,” I agreed.

“You know I tagged you, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Good,” he said, taking a bite out of lukewarm piece of cardboard masquerading as a piece of pizza. I sipped a chocolate milk, realizing that vengeance may not be the best option. The table was already pretty lonely.

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