I was in the castle. Its walls were a bouncy, coarse, plastic mesh. Something that you could get a rug burn on without even trying. It didn’t stop us though.
Tommy was the first to climb in and he pointed to me.
“You sir! Are challenged. To. Mortal. Combat!” he howled to the night.
“Scorpion!” I yelled and amid whoops and cheers climbed in the castle.
Someone outside, maybe Ricky, maybe someone I didn’t know, shouted, “BEGIN.”
Now this was a pretty normal thing for my group of friends when drinking: wrestling matches. We never hurt each other and we never took it seriously. It was just about the fun of getting rowdy and testing each other. But this time I was drunk. Like, really really drunk.
Before I knew what was happening Tommy charged me. I tried to move my feet but they sank slightly on the inflated surface of the castle. Because of this they slid out from under me and I ended sprawled on my stomach. Somehow, the slip must have caught Tommy by surprise because he moved to his right anticipating a full step from me in that direction. I found face near his ankles so I reached out and grabbed both and hauled up on them as I got my feet under me. He slammed down and bounced, just as I had done a moment ago. I tackled him, trying to pin, but I wasn’t much of a wrestler, and I’m lucky the only sport Tommy played was baseball.
But Tommy was a lot lankier than I. He had this way of wrestling that was all limbs and constant moving and even though I thought I had him at first, he squirmed out and suddenly had his arms one of mine, forcing me to spin over onto my back as he touched on it.
I was dimly aware of the shouts and laughs coming from outside the castle. I felt a dull throbbing in my head and a gurgling like hunger in my stomach. For a moment I forgot Tommy and the wrestling match we were in. I forgot the castle. I was still mad at Elizabeth for lying about our friendship. I was mad at Tommy’s brother Derek for putting me in this position. If he hadn’t hadn’t done what he’d done I’d not have been interested in her.
I looked to the said, my chest heaving from exertion. And there, right there, through the mesh wall of the castle I saw Elizabeth watching me.
My insides burned like I’d just eaten wasabi.
Tommy was trying to pin me suddenly. I grabbed one of his arms and pulled down so he tried to pull back and that’s when I pushed and flipped over and I still had his arm and wrapped my arms around, pulling it out toward me.
An ocean of blood was ringing in my ears. I dimly heard Tommy laughing and barely saw his hand tapping the castle floor. Tapping out. But I didn’t care. My friends eyes met mine and they went from a boyish excitement and adrenaline to fear.
“Dude,” said Tommy. “You got me. I tap.”
“Let him go, Tuck,” I heard Frank’s voice.
I watched Tommy’s eyes grow hard as he looked at mine. And I pulled.
There was a loud pop right before the scream.
And then people were flooding the castle and I stood up and looked down on Tommy’s broken arm. It was bent out of shape in the most horrible way. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have anything to say. I wasn’t sorry.
I turned, stepped out of the castle and vomited on the ground.