The Our Lady of Disciples students suddenly stopped laughing in sync. A moment’s silence – pregnant with disbelief – elapsed, before murmurs began bubbling amongst their numbers. They turned to one another curiously, wondering whether they had heard Tomisin’s response correctly. In all their years together, none of Tomisin’s colleagues could ever remember him agreeing to a fight. With his condescending outlook and barbed tongue, he had provoked many less brutish looking school mates into challenging him to fisticuffs, but had always shown enough gumption and tact to turn the challenges down without appearing cowardly. They just couldn’t understand it. Some thought he accepted the challenge simply to save face. But at what cost? Museil wondered. What did he have to prove to this opponent; this part-time casual labourer, whose hobby it clearly was to offend private school children (with his casual laboriousness) and lure them into bare knuckle fist fights?
Ultimately, Tomisin’s reason for accepting the challenge was no great mystery at all. Contrary to the general consensus amongst his colleagues, he did not accept the challenge to save face, but because at the age of ten – like climbing a tall tree, dropping a mirror beneath a girl’s skirt, stoning a frog to death, or putting a pebble through a window – he simply thought impressing his friends by thrashing the intruder and putting him in his place would be a fantastic idea.
As Tomisin stood in the six foot deep fifteen foot wide square sand pit confronting his adversary alone – with over two dozen crowd members consisting mostly of J.T’S friends lining the pit edge above, and ferociously cheering their man on; screaming at the top of their voices – he suddenly began to feel like saying “alright” was a bad idea. He wondered where all J.Ts supporters suddenly materialised from, and began to wonder whether they would lynch him if he got the better of their man. He looked into the surrounding crowd above for his own supporters when the crowds frenzied roars of “J.T! Jaw Tearer! J.T. Jowl Thrasher!” sent a wet trickle running down his right leg into his lilac coloured cotton socks and beige leather sandals, however, all that remained of the large group of school friends he had been sitting with were the panic stricken heads of Muslei and Davis – squashed in-between a lot of malaria piss yellow and poo-poo brown.
He had observed the basics several times before, so he made two fists and brought them close to his head – just below his eyes. He then crouched down slightly, and began approaching his opponent cautiously – just like he had seen in the movies.
Tomisin’s thought his opponent looked a bit like he assumed he did – with the clenched fists and the crouch – but there was an air of professionalism with which J.T. bounced from foot to foot; intermittently dusted his nostrils with his thumbs; and swung his torso around – making precise acute angles with his waist-pivoted orbit as he measured Tomisin’s approach. It was as though he had said “Let us go and fight” and heard naive responses of “alright” several times before.
“Commando Bakayo reversed for a tausand miles when running away from the police,” J.T said to Tomisin, before deftly delivering the first blow.
“No he didn’t, that’s impossible, he reversed for only five miles,” Tomisin countered, before graciously accepting it.
Tomisin did not feel any pain as the blow landed on his right temple and floored him completely. What he did feel, was the urge to get up again, make fists again, bring them close to his head again – just below his eyes, crouch down slightly again, and begin cautiously approaching his opponent again… like he had seen in the movies. But this time, he resolved to stay out of arm’s reach, and lunge only when he sensed an opening in J.T.’s defences presented itself ripe for exploitation. However, it seemed like J.T. had read Tomisin’s script, as his subsequent jab – which landed on Tomisin’s other temple and floored him completely like its predecessor had – was not a standing jab, but a lunging jab.
As Tomisin rose for the second time – still feeling no pain, but beginning to feel like J.T. knew exactly what he was doing – thoughts of an all out assault did not grip him, and he resumed the fist making, head shielding, crouching, cautious approach strategy that had so far let him down, but he was sure would come good when he sensed an opening in J.T.’s defences presented itself ripe for exploitation. It was only after J.T. lunged from an even further distance than before, and floored him completely, yet again, but this time, with a double fisted aerial strike on his skull, that he immediately revised his strategy.
Mixed in with the partisan crowd, who would undoubtedly lynch him if he tried to help his best friend out, Museil looked on helplessly as Tomisin rose to his feet yet again, steadied himself, and began to do the most curious thing with his arms. Museil was not sure if it was the new felt dullness which surely colonized Tomisin’s head, or the increased shame that must have come with each flooring and rising, that hurled him into an almighty panic, and prompted him to throw all caution – along with his arms – to the wind, because he ceased all head shielding, crouching and cautious approaching, and began whirling both his arms around very quickly in frenzied forward-circular motions in J.T’s general direction.
Above several retreat calls from Museil and David of: “Run! Tomi run!” which at the time, Tomisin misheard as victorious premonitions of: “You’ve won Tomi, you’ve won!” he also overheard one of his opponent’s friends cheering his man on – giving useful advice on how to inflict further punishment:
“Ah! look, he thinks he is a swimmer. J.T – Jowl Thrasher – blow his left eye,” the voice said. And right on cue, a fist penetrated through Tomisin’s propeller barricade and landed on his right eye. The blow floored him yet again, but later on, he would draw some satisfaction that his earlier assertions about J.T.’s low intelligence were correct. “I was right; he was a dullard. With his malaria-piss yellow coloured school uniform shirt and poo-poo brown shorts; he couldn’t even tell right from left could he?” he would boast later in the sickbay to his friends as they nursed him back to health.
Unperturbed, Tomisin commenced the same frenzied arm whirling attack strategy. He was sure he had J.T. in his sights just before he was floored by a blow from behind: a push-cum-blow, which was dispatched more to notify him of his whirling in the wrong direction rather than to maim him. The blow landed shortly after a similar call of: “Ah! Look, he thinks he is a windmill. J.T. – Jab Thespian – jab the back of his head.”
Similar floorings transpired after similar insightful calls from J.T’s supporters. Calls such as: “Ah! Look, he thinks he is an aeroplane. J.T. – Jaw Tearer – kick his stomach” and “Ah! Look, he thinks he is a ceiling fan. J.T. – Just Tyrant – slap his throat very hard,” all put Tomisin in eye, nose and tongue contact with the grainy particles of the sand pit.
Ever the young optimist, Tomisin was sure he had completely mastered J.T.’s tactics, and he was also certain that the fight’s momentum was shifting his way, when the fight was suddenly stopped by the chastising words of an authority figure. As both his eyes were completely closed due to swelling – brought about by the repetitive registry of the Jab Thespian’s knuckles on his face – he did not see the fight stopper, but clearly heard him shout: “Look at these stupid boys! Jambo Tenuiki, leave that poor boy’s tongue alone and get out of there immediately!”
Shortly after J.T. let go of his tongue, Tomisin collapsed into a grateful heap on the pit floor – the exhausting efforts of his propellers finally relieved by the most welcome scolding he would ever receive.