(not those kind of balls)
I was nearly killed today. Nearly killed by the earth-trembling savagery of not just one local hero, but two; two related local heroes; a heroic local father, and a heroic local son.
I was making my way along the path running around the edge of the big pond in Grovelands Park, and had reached the point where the public exercise area was just looming into my view, with the children’s play area and café behind it, billowing in the distance like a rising sun over the bleak, silhouetted crests of a mountain range. Then, behind me, the sounds marched first, leading their drummers, their bouncers, and filling me with the dread of a thousand Uruk-hai spear-stompers.
Then they flanked me, walking in brisk silence, their thoughts clearly coordinated by some form of malicious telepathy; the father – for I considered this to be the father, being taller of stature and balder of head – led, with a football in his hands, and the son followed behind him. But this was not a dutiful following, the sort a small child will engage in as it shadows an elder it respects and reveres, but a darker following, one of obligation, of one individuals’ sentient independence leashed to that of another. This was a resentful follower, one armed with a heavy basketball nonetheless; whoever these warriors’ masters were, or indeed if they existed within their own insular political duopoly, there was clearly a lackadaisical nature to their rules, with inferiors being allowed to carry weapons openly, and held at the blind spot of their superiors.
I quickly noticed the source of their harrowing drums: their balls. Each clansman was bouncing one such ball as he walked, drilling in into the ground in an act of subtle deviousness, underhanded to the point of being undetectable, and existing purely for the thrill of the vandal, not the lofty aim of the political revolutionary. These balls rose and fell with a military precision, suggesting great control and power on the part of each bouncer, but also bounced separately to one another, furthering the child’s independence from his father.
I was afraid, and I was alone.
I dodged to one side, keeping to the left-hand side of the path as their train dominated the right. But they did not accelerate past me, but kept a steady pace with mine, the child six feet in front of me at all times; they knew where I was without looking back – their telepathy was more powerful than first appreciated – and held me in check, as they continued to bounce their balls. I waited behind them for a few more minutes, struck with fear; I couldn’t stay where I was, that’d be playing into their hands, but to risk walking past them could be suicide.
But, emboldened no end by the fact that I happened to be listening to ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga as I reached my decision, I decided suicide on my terms, not death on theirs. I quickened my stride, powered past them, and dipped into the forest just past the café that our little party had now reached. I didn’t look back to check if they had followed me, or continued along the route of the path, for at that moment my playlist ended, and I was left to be guided by the sound of broken twigs underfoot, as opposed to the foot-tappingly empowering anthems of the early 2010s; twigs, apparently, are no match for Lady Gaga.
With this realisation in mind, I fell deeper into the woods, away from the ball-breakers, and into a NOFX playlist.