The smell of violence is fear. The changing room stank of it. Barry held a small knife to my throat while he whispered sweet nothings in my ear. He asked me if I like that. He asked me why I was such a fucking wimpy fuck. He asked his audience – a group of 20 to 25, 14 year old boys – if anyone would notice if he cut me. His hard stare darted around the room. Each boy in turn shook his head and looked away.
A month before this day, Barry and his pals spat at me while I climbed into the PE basket – the one for stinky clothes that needed to be washed. I did it because he asked me to. I’d have sucked his dick if he’d asked. Thank god he never did. I curled up in the fetal position as they flipped the basket over and kicked me around the changing room. They told me to stay there when they had exhausted themselves. Gavin said that he’d be waiting outside and that they’d be back to check on me. If I got out of the basket then they’d fuck me up. They told me that my mum wouldn’t recognize me when they’d got through with me. Barry added that she wouldn’t care because she’d be fucked by his knife. Barry asked what my mum’s name was. I lied and told him it was Barbara.
“Ugh, Barbara, you fucking like that? Huh? Knifed in the fucking pussy?”
Nervous laughs accompanied the role play. A few minutes later they all left me. The PE class finished at 3:30. The cleaners found me in the basket at around 6. It took me about three years after that to have the balls to ride the elevator again. My Mum shouted at me when I got home.
“Always so unthoughtful!”, she screamed…
A week from knife day, I’ll climb into my best friend’s attic. I’ll aim his rifle at Barry’s head and he’ll never know what hit him. He’ll never know because I never had the balls to pull the trigger.
A couple of months from this day, I’ll watch Barry get beaten with a large wooden bat. Tears will fill my eyes and I'll fear sorry for him. His best friend will stamp, kick and gnaw his way through Barry’s thick skin. There’ll be 20 to 25 other boys watching, shaking and slowing pissing themselves. There’ll be tears and the room will be saturated in the sound of violence: silence. And it’ll all happen in this very room. Just like today, nobody will say anything. Nobody ever does. That’s the rules.
Three years from this day, Barry will stab another boy with a screwdriver. The boy will be taken to hospital and Barry will be taken away, kicking, screaming and biting, by the local police. Nobody will see either of them again.
But today I’m back in that stinky room with Barry’s pen knife held against my throat. He didn’t cut me. He was just playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse. I didn’t know this. My ears filled with liquid. My mouth dried and I tasted violence. The metallic taste filled my mouth. Time slowed and I could hear my heart beating. Barry took a deep breath just as Mr. Bainbridge called from his office,
“Hurry up lads, get to your next class!”
Barry licked my face and slid the knife back into his pocket.
“See you next week”, he smiled.