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Take Revenge

Some people say that revenge brings you nothing and that seeking revenge is a shallow act and that letting things slide and being forgiving is the only way to achieve happiness in life.

Well, to those lovely, grounded souls I say: shut your mouths.

Revenge feels great. And I'll now tell you the best revenge I've ever had in my life (besides luckily drawing for a living, which seems like revenge enough for countless years of being teased as a 'starving arteest').

No my friends, this revenge occurred on the field of battle. The recreational tackle football field.
Stories are best when started at the beginning, so let's start there.

In 1995, I was a skinny, 5'7" freshman in high school in The Woodlands, Texas. I was small for my age, the other boys had bushels of hair on their genitalia, not me, I had six on my left testicle, zero on my right one. My mother still reminds me that I relayed that fact to her once. So, yes, right oh, I was small and into D&D and comics and drawing and video games, and sometimes I played tackle football with my friends in a park.

One such day of the tackle football playing, I happened to catch a pass out to the side a bit and I started heading up-field. It's what you did when you caught a pass, you head toward the other end of the field in order to score points and achieve victory. It looked like the field in front of me was wide open and I was actually thinking that this might result in a score. I wanted to score. It would be cool to score. I wanted to do cool things.

Well, a larger, older, meaner guy on the other team didn't want me to score. I was scared of the guy, honestly. He was a senior, he was massive, and he usually didn't play with us. He had a lot of hair on each of his testes, I was just so sure of it, and I only the six, as stated earlier.

So I caught the pass, saw open field, started running to the openness, then saw him coming fast and I decided to run out of bounds. What can I say, I was a wuss. Art club, remember?

To my surprise I actually made it out of bounds. Play's over, go back to the huddle, good run, Harder. Wellp, he had other plans. He plowed into me like a freight train smashing through a stalled truck. Or a pinto. Yes, I definitely was not a truck. He growled when he hit me and I skidded into some bushes off to the side of the field.

I knew my arm was broken immediately. He broke it. Sure, he didn't take my arm in his puberty-strengthened man hands and snap it, but this was close.

He shoved me down hard as he stood up over me, staying above me for a second because he knew it looked tough. He gloated. He knew I was out of bounds. Saw how scared I was. And he hit me his hardest anyway. Hey, good for him. Sure, I was out of bounds, but there were no refs. He smelt blood in the water and he attacked.

It felt evil and the way he acted after if confirmed it. Standing over me, I looked up at him and he said, 'Yea, bitch.'

And then he walked away.

I got up and touched my elbow. The pain was excruciating. I held it bent and ran back to the huddle, pretending nothing was wrong. Couldn't let them see me hurt, you know the saying.

He kept looking at me and I'd act like I didn't notice. It seemed he wanted me to catch another pass. His eyes were open wide. He wanted to hurt me again.

I never gave him the chance.
I finished the rest of the game as I finished most, feebly and timidly, just blending in. But I knew then that if I ever got the chance, I'd get him back one day.

Wellp, it turns out that my elbow did, in fact, break that day. I walked around freshman year with a cast from my thumb to mid-bicep. My arm shrank to Ethiopian proportions in that cast. Various friends signed it. Asked me how it happened. I toughened it up by lying and saying I did the tackling. If anything, it got me attention from girls for a second or two. Sympathy attention. But attention nonetheless.

Fast forward 4 years later. Same high school, same town. Different me. I grew to 6'4" and joined the varsity football team, starting on special teams and backing up the tight ends and defensive ends. I still wasn't mean enough for football, but I tried. Only played the one year, the varsity year. Letter jacket deal. Only guy on the team who had friends in the art club holding up signs for #83 at the pep rally. Never got teased by the other guys for that. Ahem.

And honestly, I'd forgotten about that day in the park. But one day after my senior year, there we were, playing tackle football at a park in The Woodlands, all my buddies, just messing around.

And guess who shows up.

There he was, jumping out of the bed of a pickup with his friends. How Varsity Blues of them. He was with 3 guys in all and they wanted to play.

I touched my elbow and popped it straight (I still pop it). I recognized him.

Ricky didn't recognize me. Musta had a few tough courses at community college that had taken up all of the random access memory on his fried motherboard.

I made sure to get on the opposite team as him. We kicked off and tackled one of his friends by their end zone. They started their drive and I plotted my revenge.

I chose not to guard him on defense for obvious reasons. Didn't want him recognizing me early, mainly, but also wanted the reveal to come in the form of something ferocious and dramatic. There could be no other way.

I wanted to hurt him. Badly.

And after we had scored a few touchdowns, I decided that it was time.

They were on offense and the quarterback lobbed a little floater to Ricky as he came across the middle. I saw it happening early, playground football is pretty sloppy and plays are pretty easy to read. I left my man the second I saw Ricky slant in towards me.

He caught the ball and turned to run. He was probably 20 pounds heavier than when he hit me 4 years before, maybe 30, but he was still an athlete. One of those weekend warriors.

He saw me a split-second before he saw the sky. I laid him out flat on his back. Stuck him with a perfect form tackle in the ribs. He froze as I ran through him like shit through a goose. I was no longer Justin, I was missile.

The ball came loose. I didn't care. I stood up over him. Triumphant. He held his stomach, his ribs, he squirmed. His breath was coming out in long heaves and hacks.

I looked down on him and said:

'That's for breaking my arm 4 years ago, bitch.'

I stepped over him as one of my teammates picked up the loose ball and ran for a touchdown. Everything was in slow-motion.

I don't remember if he ever got up that day. I assume he did, at some point. I think we stopped playing after that, but everything is kinda blurry, like milky water, distorting and refocusing.

That was a good day and after hitting him like that, I felt relieved. I felt vindicated, like I righted a wrong.

So, next time someone discourages you from seeking revenge, from dropping down to your adversary's 'level', I'd advise you to follow your heart and make up your own mind.

If you get the opportunity, you should take it, and lay the mother fucker out.
Justin Claus HarderComment