Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bad Days For Brandyn

I've had a few bad days over the course of my life. I'm certain that most of us have. However, Brandyn Boatwright specialized in them. I've already recorded the histories of a few of his bad days. If you haven't read “Brandyn Ninja Carpenter” or “That's Gonna Leave a Mark” you may want to do so. They will help demonstrate what I mean. He often brought things on himself, but not always. The tales that follow represent a little of each side of the coin.

On the particular day of calamity in question we were all in school. Joshua and I had been put in private school shortly after I started the ninth grade. Brandyn Boatwright and Jesse Dicks quickly followed us. Since we had all been friends for years outside of school this made for a wonderful educational setting. Every day was more like going up to the clubhouse than going to school. Plus the guys at school were great and we all became close friends. Each day found us playing some sport during every one of our breaks. On this particular day tag football was the game of choice.

Now, as a general rule, tag football is one of the safest games in the world. For the two people on earth who have never heard of it I'll explain, just in case they decide to read this. Tag football is just like regular football except all the tackles are replaced by tags. That is to say you only need to touch whoever has the ball in order to “tackle” them. Now, if you are asking yourself what a “tackle” is then I can't help you. You'll have to look up some information on football. I don't have room for all that here....

In any event, we were all out playing tag football. Brandyn had gotten the ball and was flying across the field toward the end zone. I fell in behind him and ran right up on his heals. Literally. You see, I was a great deal faster than Brandyn. I had closed the distance between us in no time and was running right behind him just toying with him. My plan was to let him get within about ten yards of making a goal and then tag him. However, when I stepped on his heal it tripped me. I was so close to him that when I fell I landed right on him. The result was that I actually tackled him.

Normally this wouldn't have been a problem at all. Brandyn was as tough as nails. I had seen him take some major hits and recover without so much as batting an eye. On this particular day that was not to be the case. As Brandyn fell the ball slipped from his fingers. It hit the ground a moment before he did. He landed with his forearm laid right across it. So, when I landed right on top of him it dropped the weight of both our bodies right onto his arm which was stretched across the ball. It snapped the bones of his forearm like twigs.

To say that he screamed doesn't really convey the emotion which Brandyn displayed. He did something more than simply scream, if we have a word for it in the English language then I don't know what it is. There was the terrible sound he produced to which he added a general flailing and a kind of Curly-esk running around while laying down. (If you've never watched the Three Stooges then you don't know what I mean. Find a DVD and watch it, but only if you are male. Women seem to hate the Three Stooges for some reason...) Mrs. Lane, our teacher, tried to help him to his feet, but was met with some rather unpleasant language as she grabbed his broken arm in order to lift him up.

We finally managed to get him into a car and on his way to the hospital. The next day he showed up at school sporting his new cast. Sadly for Brandyn this was going to be another day that didn't end very well. It was the very end of the school day when things took a bad turn. As usual Brandyn brought it on himself by begin stupid.

Joshua and I would occasionally catch a ride home with one of the other guys from school. Charles Elledge had offered to give us a lift in his truck that day. Charles was a lot of fun and played music so loud that your ears would almost bleed, so we immediately accepted his invitation. If we had just ridden home with Mom or if Charles had been driving a car Brandyn might have been spared a little pain, but it was not meant to be.

Just as Charles was backing up Brandyn jumped up on his bumper, grabbed the tailgate with his good hand and began waving his broken arm above his head as if he were a cowboy riding a wild stallion. We came to a stop at the end of the driveway waiting to pull onto the road until Brandyn had hopped off. However, Brandyn just stood there waving his broken arm in the air. Charles yelled for Brandyn to get down, but Brandyn ignored him.

“What should I do?” Charles asked as he watched Brandyn in the rear view mirror.

“Drive on. He'll get down.” I said with confidence.

Charles pulled out onto the road and started getting up to speed. Brandyn continued to cling to the tailgate with his good hand and wave his bad arm in the air. We got up to ten miles an hour, then fifteen with no change in situation.

“What do think?”

“Keep going, he'll jump for it before long.”

Charles pressed the gas and we got up to twenty. Brandyn began to yell for us to let him off.

“Should I stop?”

“Nah, he had his chance. Let him jump for it or ride home with us on the bumper.”

Before the truck got to twenty five Brandyn jumped off onto the road. He hit with so much force that he rolled around on the pavement like a piece of old trash. He actually rolled off the road and down into the drainage ditch right beside our school.

“Oh my gosh! Should I stop?”

“Nah, he'll be fine. Drive on, Charlie, drive on.”

Drive on he did. The next day at school Brandyn yelled at me with everything he had in him. He had actually cracked his cast in several places from where it had slammed into the pavement. Needless to say his broken arm had not enjoyed the treatment it had gotten.

“Well, you shouldn't have hopped up there in the first place.” I said with a bit of a laugh.

“I was just playing around! You could have killed me!”

“Jumping from a vehicle that is only moving twenty five miles an hour isn't enough to kill you Brandyn. Besides, what makes you think we even saw you back there?”

“Oh, you saw me!!!!”

This discussion was met with laughter on all sides. When all was said and done Brandyn was laughing as loud as anyone. Brandyn always liked to look tough in front of the ladies. His little jump from the truck certainly made him look tough. Not very smart, but tough.

It may seem to the casual reader that we were very cruel to Brandyn. This was not the case. We were his best friends, we just liked to ruffle his feathers a bit. Had Mother Teresa been there she would have laughed along with the rest of us. Brandyn was fun to be with, but given time he would get under anybody's skin. Joshua and I were the score settlers. We made Brandyn pay the piper for all the things he did to other people. It may seem hard to believe, but Brandyn really did bring these things on himself.

It was on another day, not long after, that Brandyn annoyed Joshua and me until, yet again, he found himself in the middle of a bad day. Joshua and I were headed to the mall and then a birthday party in Aiken and Brandyn wanted to come along. By this time Brandyn was already a smoker, ever though he was a little under age. Joshua and I didn't smoke and we didn't like to be around it. Knowing that Brandyn wouldn't be able to refrain from smoking for the hours we planned to be gone we told him we wouldn't take him.

Our decision was met with pitiful pleas and assurances that he wouldn't smoke the entire time he was with us. I found this hard to believe, but figured I might as well give him the chance to prove himself. I felt that if he went without smoking that day it would be good for him anyway. A few minutes later we picked Brandyn up and a few more minutes found us all in the mall parking lot.

As soon as we got out of the car it began.

“I'm going to have a quick smoke as we walk in.” Brandyn said pulling a pack out of his pants pocket.

“No you're not. That wasn't the deal.” I said looking Brandyn in the face.

“Well, I got to have one.”

“Well, then I guess Josh and I will just have to leave you here then.”

“You wouldn't do that.”

“Wouldn't we?”

“Let him have one.” Josh said with a smile.


“I think we should let him have one. Provided... he smokes it backwards.”

“I'm not doing that!” Brandyn said indignantly.

“Suit yourself. Go without all that lovely tobacco. What do I care?” Josh replied.

“Would you let me smoke one if I smoked it backwards?” Brandyn asked me.

“Sure, I guess. It would be interesting enough to make it worth while.”

Brandyn pulled a cigarette from the pack and put it in his mouth backwards. He then lit the filter end and began to smoke. As soon as he inhaled he began to cough his lungs up. Josh stood there encouraging him to go on. Reminding him of all that excellent tobacco just one filter away. Brandyn tried his best, but I'm not sure anyone could have done it. He had smoked about half the filter when he threw it down and stamped it out.

“I can't finish it! It'll kill me!” He said as he ground the smoldering cigarette into the ground.

“Ah well, that's too bad.”

“Can I smoke one normally now.”

“A deal is a deal and you didn't smoke the filter. I'm sorry Brandy, you'll have to forgo.”

We continued into the mall with Brandyn grumbling the entire way. I know that some of you (probably smokers) are incensed by now. You would no doubt have stormed off and let me drive away. Well, in truth I would have driven away without a second thought. A deal is a deal. Brandyn was famous for making deals and then going back on them. In point of fact, I myself would let him weasel out of his agreements, I just didn't make it easy.

We wandered through the mall until we ended up in Pipe Dreams. It was a neat little store that sold a number of things that included tobacco, cigarettes and cigars. As soon as we were inside Brandyn began again.

“Hey bro, buy me a cigar.” He said as he looked over the counter.

“What?” Was me predictable reply.

“Well, they smell good. You and Josh couldn't mind my smoking one of them.”

Here Brandyn had scored a point. My Papa had smoked cigars since long before I was born and I did like the smell. Still, there was the deal to consider. Brandyn was just trying to find a way to smoke. However, in all deals there is a bit of give and take. I decided that I would show Brandyn what it was like to take too much.

“I won't buy you one cigar, but I will buy you three.” I said with a smile.

“What? Well, that's generous.” He said smiling in return.

“On two conditions. First, should you smoke one of them you have to smoke all three back to back.”

“Back to back?”

“Come on bro, you can do that. It will take care of your smoking for the rest of the day.” Josh said joining in my mischief.

“What's the second condition?” Brandyn asked mulling the first over.

“We each pick one of the three. It's the only way to be fair.” I replied, my smiled broadening.

Brandyn stood there considering the offer for a few moments. He knew it was a challenge as much as anything else. At last he decided.


Brandyn selected what one might call a normal cigar. It was a Tampa Nugget or something like that. Joshua's selection was a little more exotic. It was a thin cigar perhaps nine inches long. I myself went for the fatty, as we use to call them. It was only about four inches long, but it was bigger around than my thumb. Having made our selections we checked out and were quickly on our way.

By the time we were done at the mall it was time for the birthday party. We arrived fashionably early and were mingling when Brandyn decided he needed to get his smoking over with. The party was at a bowling alley and I suppose he wanted to get his nicotine levels in a good place before we started to bowl. It wouldn't do to loose a game because he was nick-fitting.

Several of us headed outside with him to watch. It wasn't everyday that you saw someone smoke three cigars back to back. Brandyn pulled out the Tampa Nugget in front of the small crowd and lit it to the sound of cheers of approval. Everyone had heard about the deal and wanted to encourage Brandyn in his chosen feat of stupidity. He burned the first one away to ashes like a champion. He looked like a man that had been born with a cigar in his mouth. As he smothered the butt out he was met with warm approval from the crowd.

Then next smoke-able he selected was Joshua's long thin cigar. As soon as he lit it he observed aloud that it was a little harsher than he had expected, but assured us all that he would press on. As the brown cigar changed to ashy white, so did Brandyn. The color had begun to drain out of him as if he too were burning away to nothing. About half way through he began to complain.

“I'm not sure I can make it.” He said, a bit of cold sweat on his forehead.

“Nonsense! You're half way there my friend. You can't give up now, not in front of the ladies.”

Brandyn screwed up his courage and smoked on. More slowly than before, doubtless, but one breath after another left a shorter cigar behind it. Brandyn was met with cheers once again as his shaking hand snuffed the burning embers of the second cigar butt out. As the final cigar, the mighty fatty, was pulled from the bag concern spread across Brandyn's face.

“I can't get through that one, there's no way.”

“You can and will Brandyn, it's just a matter of getting started.” I said with a grin.

“No, really I can't.”

“Well, that would be to bad. Because if you don't smoke the third one then the deal is off. That means that you just smoked two of my cigars. For that I'm afraid Josh and I will have to rough you up.”

“You wouldn't do that!”

“Wouldn't we?” Josh said with a cold smile.

Here you have to understand that once again Josh and I were just giving Brandyn a bit of his own back. He was constantly aggravating people to the point where this crowd, filled with many of his best friends, felt no sympathy for him at all. The deal was the deal and he would smoke or face the consequences.

“Fine! Give it here!” He said at last.

As he lit the fatty the crowd cheered once again. Once more Brandyn followed the example of his cigar. As it burned lower and lower so did he. He smoked for a while sitting on the curb covered in a sweat cold enough to defy the summer sun that was beating down on his face. Each puff of smoke found him closer to the ground. At last Brandyn was laying on the curb with half a smoldering cigar hanging out of his mouth. With one final effort he spit it into the street.

“You guys can kill me... I'm not taking another drag...” He said slowly.

“What do you think Josh?”

“Hmmm, I call it close enough.”

The crowd went wild. Brandyn had passed the ordeal of smoke. I'm sure he would have been jumping with joy had he been able to jump at all. As it was, he had nicotine poising so bad he couldn't stand, let alone jump. In the end we had to lift him up and carry him to the car. He moaned the entire way home. Still, there was no permanent damage done. The next day he was back to his old self and smoking as much as ever. I had hoped the experience would kill his love of tobacco, but no such luck.

It may seem that we were a cruel lot, but we weren't honestly. Brandyn dished it out plenty of times, these stories are simply centered on when he had to take it. I suppose that is the moral of the story. Don't dish it out if you can't take it and don't buy three cigars if you can't smoke em.

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