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Returning to my home town 10 years down the line to find all my old
chums' faces are either long and sullen or proud, red and round.
Remembering afternoons during the school summer holidays when Rambo
came out on vhs, dressing up an arsenal of toy machine guns and red
ribbons round our house, rubbing our foreheads with dirt from the front
garden on our way to 'mystery wood' down town. Funny now when I look
into their tired eyes and furrowed brows, remembering the day after
we'd all snuggled up on the couch as seven year old lads in jim jams
one saturday night watching first blood all those years ago.
Danny would wade into the river dane on a beach storm and used to cut
himself on purpose so we'd all have to carry him home as a wounded
soldier. Now he's older he's done time and gets into street brawls
outside the white bear. His name appears on the pub ban list
everywhere I drink. He's always got a hard slap on the shoulder for me
and let's me in on his latest crimes.
Gary was a thinker. He'd hide up trees confident he'd not be found and
we'd always end the day crowding around the trunk with our guns to the
ready as he squealed that he'd tell his dad if we didn't let him down.
I've never seen him out drinking. I saw him dressed in a suit last week
at the check-out of 'one-stop,' nervously fumbling with money, a
familiar look of worry on his face asif he wondered whether he'd ever
get out of the place alive. He's an accountant now with a 4 bedroomed
semi in a cul-de-sac, two kids and a stay at home wife.
Then there was John. John was the action man of us lot. The game would
start and he'd peg it and not re-appear until the game was nearly
through. He'd always be panting asif he'd started running and never
stopped. He forgot who I was the first time I saw him in the Kings Arms
last year, he was drunk and rattling on about all the houses he's got
and what a good life it's been so far and how we'd all have to meet up
again sometime soon but he's due to move down south and before I knew
it he was off to the next watering hole before I'd barely opened my
mouth to enjoy a sip let alone to say goodbye.
Then there's me. I was never any good at the army game. I was always
first man out and I'd sit alone on the gravel through-road in the woods
picking at stones, daydreaming and watching the rest of them play. In a
funny kind of way I was content with that role. I'd hum to myself and
marvel at the sun cutting through the trees.
Returning to my hometown 10 years down the line to find all my old
chums' faces are either long and sullen or proud, red and round. It's
funny how things change. But not the game. The game stays the
I'm going to mystery wood. Wanna come down?
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