Sport 19: Lightworks
William Brandt — Bad to Worse
I got this bee down my shorts. I don't know if that had anything to do with it. I was driving and I saw this bee climbing up the window on the inside of the glass. It was right beside my ear. I wound the window down, I thought it would get sucked out by the blast. It disappeared so I wound the window up. But then I felt this tickle between my legs and I looked down and I saw it crawling up my shorts. So I stopped the car, thinking any minute now I'm going to get a bee sting in the balls. I stopped the car in this really bad place, just about crashed because I wasn't looking where I was going, I was too busy looking for this bee. I jumped out and there's all these cars behind trying to get past and I'm dancing around like a nutcase trying to get this bee out of my shorts. The cars are edging past one by one, and the people inside are all just looking at me thinking what the fuck is that guy doing? One car slowed right down and this girl, she was only about twelve, had the window wound down and she said are you OK? like she wanted to help. I just waved them on. There was nothing anyone could do.
Anyway all this time I couldn't feel anything and I finally decided the bee must have gone. I was just getting back in the car when it stung me right on the arse. I crushed it through my shorts, now I knew where it was all right. I could feel it crunch up between my fingers. Of course it was too late by then though, it had already stung me. I could feel the sting already, starting to wind up. I got back in the car and drove down and my backside was slowly stinging more and more all the time. That's how bee stings go.
I got down to where I was going and there was a park right outside for a change, so I swung across—it was across the road, and I had to do a three point turn to get into the park. I was halfway through getting into it when this grape-coloured Honda Civic zips into my park. I couldn't believe it. So I tooted and the guy in the front just shrugs and carries on parking. So I got out and went up to him. He was just getting out. I went up and said excuse me that was my park.page 38
He laughed. He laughed at me. He said tough titties or something really thoughtful and sensitive like that, and then he laughed. Basically, he was glad that he had taken my park. He was thrilled, that he had taken my park. He was an arsehole. Whatever else you can say about it, he was definitely an arsehole, that much is beyond doubt. He was about my size. He had dark glasses on. I never saw his eyes, the whole time. And he had a green jersey. It was actually a really nice jersey. I was looking at him, actually by now I was screaming at him. In the middle of the street I was screaming at this guy and calling him a cunt. I was screaming you cunt you fucking bloody fucking cunt at a man in broad daylight in the middle of the street, and in the back of my mind I was thinking that's a nice jersey I wouldn't mind one like that.
He walked away. He just laughed and left me standing there. He was loving it. He was. He was just loving it.
I kicked his car. I admit that I kicked his car. It was just too much. He was walking away, laughing, leaving me there knowing there was nothing I could do, and laughing, being so happy that he had fucked up my day and there was nothing I could do. But there was something I could do. There was one thing I could do. I did it. I kicked his car. It made an incredibly loud noise. It was a crappy little car, thin panels. People on the street stopped and looked when they heard it. There was this terrific thump. I remember how it happened, he turned and walked away, and as he walked I got this strange floaty feeling, like I was suddenly free. Then I kicked his car. I put a big dent in the panel. I hadn't meant to do that. I hadn't meant not to either. But it would never have happened if it hadn't been such a crappy little car.
As soon as he heard the thump the guy turned around and came sprinting back, it was like he'd been expecting it, he was so quick off the mark. He didn't come for me. He went for my car, going oh ho, oh ho ho ho, so you want to play kicking cars do you? He was still sort of laughing. He came running round to kick my car, only I got in the way. It was one on one. He'd break right, I'd cover. He'd break left, I'd cover. We were face to face, but he wasn't going to shove me. We weren't touching. We were right there, nose to nose, eyeball to eyeball, but we weren't touching. In the corner of my eye I could see all these people stopping and staring on the street. I think they were laughing. I couldn't believe this was happening. I was page 39 thinking what happens next? Is this where I punch him in the throat? Or is this where he punches me in the throat? I mean, we were right there.
Then he backed off. We screamed at each other a bit more first, then he went back and looked at his car. And that's when he saw the dent. He hadn't even noticed it before, he hadn't even looked at his car, he was in such a hurry to get to mine. Then he really went ballistic. He came running back, and by now I was feeling stupid about the whole thing. I couldn't believe I had kicked his car. It was such a dumb thing to do. So I let him kick my car. I thought by now just let him kick the car, he'll go away. But the silly bastard was kicking it in the wrong place, he was kicking it up the back where the panel was curved and he couldn't put a dent in it. He just had these flimsy little sneakers on. He kicked it, and he looked for a dent, and kicked it again, and shouted at me. I tried to apologise, I said look I'm sorry I kicked your car, and he stopped for a moment, but then he started shouting again, and I ended up shouting back at him. Then he went away, and I got back in the car and waited. I was waiting for my wife.
My wife came out and she came over to get in the car. She was just getting in, when he came back. I had the engine going, and I was just starting off, when he came running over and had a last almighty kick at the car just as we were going. That was it. I lost it. I slammed on the brakes. I said to my wife call the police, and I jumped out. He thought I was coming for him, and he ran for it, but I didn't follow and he circled back.
My wife had got out too, but she was just standing on the footpath saying what's going on? I shouted at her call the police, just call the police. So she went back inside to do that. Then I just leant on the bonnet of my car with my arms folded, and eyed the guy out. I knew if it came down to it I was the one who kicked his car first, but some sixth sense told me I could bluff this guy out. Anyway, as far as I was concerned this had gone far enough. So I bluffed him. You want to have this out, OK, we'll have it out with the police. I knew he wouldn't be into that, I don't know why but I just knew it. He tried to bluff me back, but he was nervous. I had the upper hand now. He went back to his car and stood around saying go ahead call the police, but he wasn't into it. Finally he just got in and drove off.
My wife came out and said she had the police on the phone and I page 40 should talk to them. So I went in and there was this really nice policeman on the phone. He said a car was on the way and was the guy still there? I said no he'd gone and I didn't want to waste police time. I had the other guy's number plate, so they looked him up on their computer. They can do that, it's quite amazing really. I told them the number, the guy tapped a few keys, then he comes back with how old was he? I said mid-thirties. He said good guess. They weren't looking for him for anything.
Of course the thing I wasn't saying, was how I'd kicked his car first. I said all the rest, but I left that little detail out. I was lying to the police. That isn't really the way I see myself, if you know what I mean, but it was just too strong, it was like an instinct. Thou shalt not admit anything. This policeman was being really nice. He said a lot of soothing things, about how legally if someone takes your park there isn't anything to be done, and it all comes down to courtesy, and if someone does something like that then all you can do is walk away. There's nothing else you can do. I kept agreeing, nothing else you can do … finally he said well, if there's no damage and no one's hurt … no, no damage I said.
I went outside. My wife was waiting in the car. She was upset. She said while I was inside, he'd come back. She was waiting on the footpath, and he'd come up and started kicking the car again. She said to him what are you doing? And he said I'm kicking your fucking car. I'm so mad, he said, I could just about do you, he said, I'm so mad. He was screaming at her. She said to him why are you screaming at me? I haven't done anything to you. You're with him, he said. You're with that guy. He's an animal. I want to do something, I really want to do something. All this time he was kicking the car, trying to dent it. Finally he drove off.
When we got home the first thing I did was check the car, and there was a slight scratch on the rear wing. That made me feel a little better.
My wife's parents were down to stay. My father-in-law is a judge. Can you believe it? I told him what had happened and he was very good about it. I was thinking he must be thinking what sort of a maniac has my daughter married? That's how I felt about it. I couldn't leave it alone. I wanted to contract this guy somehow and sort it out. Pay for his car. My father-in-law said do nothing, let it go, but I page 41 didn't want to do that. I felt really bad. The guy was definitely an arsehole, but I felt dirty. I felt like I'd sunk down to some animal level. And I had an enemy, now, driving the streets in a grape-coloured Honda Civic with a ding in the driver's door, somewhere out there. I'd never be able to walk down the street again without looking over my shoulder. I didn't want that, I wanted it sorted. I wanted to talk it through, shake hands and walk away. I wanted completion. And I wanted to do what was right. Not for his sake. Let me be clear about this. A part of me even today thinks that he deserved what he got. I admit that. I was wrong, but he sure as hell wasn't right. So not for his sake, but for mine. I wanted, well, redemption. I wanted clean hands.
All right, said my father-in-law, but do nothing for twenty-four hours. For twenty-four hours, do nothing. Then make your decision. I agreed I would do nothing for twenty-four hours. It was very good advice, actually.
For the time being there was nothing to do but carry on. So I got up on the roof. There were some loose nails I had to fix. I was up there on the roof, banging away, the sun was shining down and my backside was still smarting from that bastard bee. I felt terrible. Nothing made sense anymore. And then my boy came out. My beautiful boy. He stood by the ladder and looked up at me. He looked so tiny all the way down there on the ground. He was eating an iceblock, and his lips were all red.
What are you doing Dad? he said.
I said I'm fixing the roof.
Why are you doing that? he said.
So the rain won't get in.
He said I want to come up there with you, Dad. I want to be where you are, up there. I looked down and I said no, Sweetheart, it's too dangerous. Wait till you're older.