Under The Wee Bridge – Part One

It started about a month ago. Well, this particular thing did. But I suppose it goes back further than that. Deo has always been a bit of a nutter. We call him ‘Bates’. As in Norman Bates. He’s a psycho. But, he’s my cousin. He doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. An only child is exactly the way you’d describe him. He never mixed all that well with other people. At least that was what my mum always used to say. She didn’t like me hanging around with him. But I always did. I used to lie and tell her I was with Colin or Gary or one of the boys. His old man was my old man’s brother. But neither of them were about anymore. Mum always said that you could tell he was his father’s son. His father was nicknamed ‘Bates’ as well.

Anyway, we kicked about together all through school. We were really close with one another. I was always the one that had to break up his fights. I couldn’t count the number of times I got smacked in the face by him. It was weird though, cause it happened that many times that my face got stronger as his punches got harder. When it happened he would always blame me.

“You stupid bastard!” he’d shout, me holding my t-shirt to my face, trying to stop the blood. The other guy would normally be crying on the floor. From time to time I’d be down there with him.

He would always apologize afterwards. Tell me that I should know better than to get involved with him when he got the mist. That was what he called it. ‘The Mist’. I suppose it made sense. I never got anything like that. I never really got angry. Sad was always more my thing. But I got to learn when it was drifting over him. His eyes went that mirky way. You knew that he would travel through you to travel through someone else.

Football was what brought us and kept us together. That and blood of course. But that always seemed to matter more to him than it did to me. He was a center forward. I was a left winger. We always played in the same teams. When we’d get poached by another team, they’d always insist on the two of us coming together. I’d grown up planting crosses onto that misshapen head of his. I always knew where he’d run to. He scored more goals in the High School Highland league than any other player last year. He was two goals away from setting the record for the league. But he was also one red card away from setting that record too. The sad thing was, he seemed more proud of the red cards.

We got trails to go play with Hamilton Ackies when we were fourteen. I didn’t make the grade that time. I’d been having some injury problems for a while. I had ingrown toenails. I couldn’t give it what it needed. Bates got accepted and asked to join their youth team. It was a good feeder club for the big teams. It was his big opportunity. But he got hammered the night before his first game. He spewed at the side of the park. I wasn’t there, but he told me about it. He called the other team’s manager a ‘fat wanker’. He got sent off. They asked him to either sort his behavior out or never come back. Then he called his own manager a ‘fat wanker’.

He certainly won’t get another chance like that.

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