I should have known what was coming. I’d been hassled mercilessly since arriving at the public school in that small country town. Worse still, I was a Catholic. And to top it off, I was more interested in reading books than smoking ciggies or punching people in the head for a laugh.
I should never have worn the red underpants. In fact, I should have gone to school that day wearing nothing at all underneath my (I now realise) quite loose sports shorts.
I should have laughed even harder than the rest of the students when the shorts were ripped from their position and left to dangle around my ankles. I should have turned around to face my attacker and pissed all over him. I should have danced in front of the girls who were laughing.
I should have decided never to speak again to the teacher who stood there laughing but who had previously pretended that she was interested in my education. I should have laughed in her face and then deliberately failed every test she set me.
I should have simply started running, if only to give myself a chance of winning the cross-country race scheduled for later that afternoon. I should have taken my shirt off too, and my shoes, and run barefoot down the dusty lanes, through the dead paddocks and across the abandoned railway line. I should have whistled “I’m On Fire” as I ran.
I should have lain in wait behind a tree and then jumped out as my attacker ran past. I should have dead-legged him. I should have crow-pecked his face. I should have stuck a toothpick in his nostril. I should have used his head as a hammer.
I should have won the cross-country race. I should have made my way totally naked onto the oval for my victory lap and laughed as the rest of the school just stood there, dumbfounded. I should have dacked the P.E. teacher as he presented me with my trophy.
I should have rammed that trophy up my attacker’s arse.
I should have burnt down the school. I should have hitch-hiked to the next town and started a new life with a new pair of shorts and a non-descript pair of underpants at a nice school where kids read books and paid attention to their teachers in class and were whipped if they punched another student in the face.
But of course none of these things happened. I was humiliated in front of the entire school, and then made to run in a cross-country race in which I came last and during which I was laughed at, punched and insulted by every other runner in the race. In fact, by the time I finished, only the P.E. teacher was there at the oval. The rest of the school had gone home.
I should have told them all to get fucked. But I didn’t, because my dad always told me not to swear. And that’s why I’m writing this story now.