Phil waited for his friend, Daz, or actually hid out so that he could execute his trademark “crusher” move… until Dazzling Daz pleaded for mercy. That was Daz’s pro wrestling name when he and Phil The Crusher would watch WWE Smackdown, then pretend they were pro wrestlers. The crusher move happened when Phil brought his triceps down on Daz’s head, causing his eyes to cross and his knees to wobble, until he collapsed in a writhing, groaning heap on the floor. The Crusher would then leap wildly and victoriously over his defeated victim until Dazzling Daz somehow found the strength to recover and latch onto The Crusher’s ankle. Then he would deliver a painful pretend bite that would send The Crusher leaping around the room howling in pain, until both boys would end up on their backs howling with laughter.
Phil was still waiting, peeking out to see if Daz had emerged through the big double school doors. It was getting late and Phil couldn’t understand what was taking his friend so long. He abandoned his plan to climb up in the tree and drop down on Daz when he walked by and instead impatiently checked his watch. Maybe he went home early because the turkey meatloaf the school served for lunch was clearly not cooked enough. Sometimes, Phil would rather starve than eat the… just then Daz came out wiping his eyes, his face red, and Phil could tell something was not right.
Obviously, there was not going to be a surprise attack on Dazzling that day and when Daz told Phil that the new kid at school, Nick Armstrong, was going to beat him up in the park, Phil really began to feel sick to his stomach. Phil knew about Nick, heard the stories how he had been kicked out of two different schools for fighting, and that he never lost a fight. Phil also knew Daz was no match for him.
“But Daz, why, I mean, did you do anything….”
“I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even know who he was until he was in my face, telling me he was gonna kick my….”
Daz got quiet as they passed Phil’s wrestling instructor, Coach Meyer, who was talking to the principal, Mr. Richardson. “Ready for the big match this weekend, Phil?”
“Uh… yes coach.”
“Are you coming, Daz, to see your buddy take down the top wrestler in the region?”
Both men were smiling expectantly, but Daz just looked away and mumbled, “I don’t know, I have to….”
“He’ll come, coach, I’ll make him come.”
Mr. Richardson laughed. “Well, I like your spirit Phil, but Daz might have other plans.” Daz had other plans all right, like not leaving his house ever again. When they got out of sight of Coach Meyer and Mr. Richardson, Daz could no longer hold back the tears. The more he cried, the more nervous it made Phil because he couldn’t just sit back and watch his friend get beat up; and telling Mr. Richardson that Nick threatened to beat him up wouldn’t help. Nick would just deny it, and then he would really give Daz a pounding. Besides, Nick wouldn’t care if he got expelled again. He’d just go to another school, and Daz would be scarred.
Phil had always been there for Daz, and all his friends if somebody was picking on them, because Phil knew he could use his wrestling skills to take down anybody at the school. He was too quick and all it took was a leglock for his opponent to give up. He’d never used it in a real fistfight; in fact, Phil had never been in any kind of fight which is the reason why his father got him into wrestling in the first place. He wanted his son to know that if he walked away from a confrontation, it was simply the right thing to do and not because he was afraid. Now, Phil was afraid because Daz was begging him not tell anybody about Nick threatening him, not even his father. Phil promised and walked Daz home just in case Nick was waiting for him along the way.
Afterwards, Phil decided to cut through the park in case Nick was there and he could settle it right then and there with this bully. As he walked, he used the same technique for psyching himself up that he used when he was preparing for a big match, like the one this weekend. He played the entire match out in his head, every single move, literally seeing it in his mind, like it was a movie with the only outcome being victory for him and submission by his opponent. Phil would tense his body, flexing his muscles and speeding up his breathing. He would work himself up into a state of near anxiety as if he was about to explode. As he walked, people got out his way, even dogs and cats avoided him but Phil didn’t care because he knew he had to do what it took to win, no matter what.
At that moment, he was passing the workout bars where people would practice gymnastics and he saw something that was so bizarre that he thought he was hallucinating. There, on the high bar, spinning round and round like a windmill blade was Neutrino… holding on by her pinkie! Phil closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to clear out of his mind what he just saw, until he heard Neutrino say, “Oh hi, Phil.” He opened his eyes and she was still spinning, only now she was looking at him, smiling and waving with the other hand. He stood there as if he had stepped in wet cement, still unable to believe what he was seeing. Neutrino released her pinkie grip on the bar, doing a perfectly executed back flip and landing gently. She walked over to him and before he could speak she said, “You caught me aligning my heart vibrasciliscope.”
Phil opened his mouth but all he could say was, “Vibra, vibra, vibra….”
“It’s kind of like a gyroscope. You know what a gyroscope is, right?”
Neutrino smiled, “So you know it’s a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum.”
“Riiiiiight. But how can you….”
“So I have to use the high bar to realign my vibrasciliscope because of the negative energy on earth.”
“I’ll text it to you, Phil.”
“Cool, but don’t take it personally, Neutrino, ‘cause you just don’t look strong enough to spin around on the high bar like a monkey, holding on with just your little finger? I mean, seriously, you could clean up with Olympic gold on the high bar. How do you do it?”
“Oh, we Eudaimonians draw strength from our sun, or any sun. Eventually, Earthlings might do the same, since the sun is the most powerful source of energy within millions of light years. We Eudaimonians just didn’t resist the idea of learning how to use our sun and started harnessing it many, many years ago.”
“How many years ago?”
“About… a hundred thousand years ago.”
Phil’s eyes lit up. “Wow, imagine what we would be like if we were that advanced.”
“I do, Phil, every day that I’m on earth I try to imagine it. So do you want to tell me why you are so worked up that you are scaring the animals and even the insects in the park… to say nothing of the people?”
Neutrino was no longer smiling and Phil regretted stopping to talk to her. Yet, for some reason, he felt compelled to tell her everything, as if he needed to speak openly about what was going on with Daz and the new kid, Nick, and why he was even in the park… looking for a fight. He was also concerned about those hornets and figured they might be watching.
“Here’s the deal, Neutrino. There’s this new guy, Nick, and he wants to fight Daz, who is scared to death of him. Daz is one of my best friends and I have his back, you know what I mean?”
Neutrino expression became confused. “How could you have Daz’s back? And if you do have it, where is it now?” Phil broke out laughing.
“That’s pretty good, Neutrino.” Then he realized she was serious. “Um… it means that I look out for him… you know… in case Nick wants to jump… wants to fight him.”
“I see. And do you want to fight Nick?”
“I will if I have to and I will take him out… you know, uh, beat him.”
“But I don’t want to fight him, okay? I really don’t want to fight him.”
Neutrino was smiling again. “Let’s sit on that bench.”
Phil followed her to a nearby bench and sat down. Neutrino closed her eyes for a moment. Finally, she spoke again: “I believe that in your mind, you really don’t want to fight Nick. But is that how you feel deep in your heart?”
“What do you mean deep in my heart? My actual heart? I thought the heart was just a pump. Can it feel, too?”
“When you think of Daz and how afraid he might be feeling right now, where do you feel that?”
Phil considered her question and realized his breathing was heavy, but he wasn’t doing anything but sitting on this bench. “Well, I feel it in my body, like, all over. But kind of… in here.” Phil waved his hand around his chest and stomach area, around in circles until he rested it over his heart. He glanced down and realized where his hand was. “I need to get going.” Phil stood and a hornet buzzed his head. “On second thought, I can stay a little longer.”
“Phil, Nature is your friend.”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of scaring me right now.” Phil was breathing even heavier now.
“Let’s take a moment just to listen to the nature around us. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths… in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth… and try to be aware of the sounds around you. The birds singing. The air whistling through the trees. How does that make you feel?”
Phil continued breathing deeply, then said, “It makes me feel… calm.”
“And if you saw Nick right now, would you still want to fight him?”
Phil continued breathing in silence. “No, I wouldn’t’ want to fight him, not right now.”
“Let’s take this moment and see Nick in a different light. Let’s imagine him as a very young boy, lost from his parents, frightened, sad and lonely.”
As Phil imagined Nick this way, he felt himself relax even more, his breathing slower and steady.
“Now Phil, imagine you and Daz walking through this park and you are talking and laughing and you come across young Nick, sitting on this very bench, crying. What do you want to do?”
“I want to help him find his parents.”
“That is your heart, Phil. That is your heart going out to him.”
“But Nick isn’t a little boy, he’s…”
“But he can still be frightened, sad and lonely. And that feeling you had for that little boy, imagine sending that feeling out from your heart, to every cell in your body as if you are covering yourself in your own love.”
Children could now be heard playing and laughing in the distance and Phil smiled.
“Now send that love out to Nick, and to Daz, connecting with both of their hearts, using a grip as strong as one of your wrestling moves, holding them so tight and crushing their fear and pain with your love… so they are no longer afraid or sad.”
Phil suddenly leaped off the bench like he had just been stung on the backside by a hornet, only he was smiling and excited. “Neutrino, I just had the greatest idea. I gotta go.” Phil ran off, then stopped, turned around and ran back. “Thanks, Neutrino, and you really should think about trying out for the Olympic gymnastic team.”
She watched him run off. She smiled, then said to herself, “I wonder what he meant by cleaning up in gold. Hmmm.”
That weekend, the word went out that there was going to be a big fight at the park. Nick would be there with friends from his other schools. Phil, wearing his wrestling warm-ups, waited at the designated area with Petey. Two large athletic bags were beside them. Petey’s eyes searched the woods: “Do you think he’ll show?”
Phil gritted his teeth, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Yes, I think he will. I think they both will.”
At that moment, kids from Fliderdale appeared in the woods walking towards the clearing where Phil and Petey waited. From the opposite direction came Nick and his friends, all with hard looks on their faces as if they were looking for trouble and determined to stir some up if they couldn’t find it. Then, off in the distance a figure approached. It was Daz, also in warm-ups and suddenly the atmosphere was electric with nervous, edgy energy and chatter. Everyone had come for a fight and Phil was determined to give it to them… the best fight they’d ever seen. As Daz got closer and closer, Nick stepped out into the center of the clearing, readying himself for yet another fight. Daz entered the clearing and stopped some ten yards from Nick who stared at him with venomous, glaring eyes. Daz’s eyes also blazed with intensity, but not at Nick. He looked past him and folded his arms across his chest, standing straight and proud, belting out: “Well, if isn’t the cowardly Crusher.”
Suddenly the crowd was alive with talking and laughing as everyone realized that Phil was now out of his sweats and wearing a pro wrestling costume with “The Crusher” written across the back of his skin tight top. He wore a wrestler’s mask and puffed out his chest, flexing his arms. “And if isn’t Dazzling Defeated Daz, come for the beating of the meeting.” Now all eyes went to Daz who had removed his sweats to reveal his costume complete with a gold laminated “DD” on the front that inspired oohs and ahhs from the crowd eager for a Fliderdale Smackdown. Nick was utterly confused and slowly backed out of the circle to the safety of his friends who were now laughing and pointing at the two wrestlers.
Petey the ref blew his whistle and now The Crusher and Dazzling Daz circled each other as the crowd screamed and cheered. And what a fight it was, complete with body slams and haymakers, biting, scratching, hair pulling, pleading and begging as the crowd of kids roared with laughter. Of course, nobody won because they both ended up knocking each other out when their heads accidently collided, perfectly as planned. Nick laughed so hard he had to run off to the bathroom, but the biggest cheer went up for Petey when he asked: “Who wants a snack?!” The kids swarmed like happy hornets around the athletic bags full of juice boxes and granola bars.
The next weekend at Phil’s, Nick and one of his friends joined The Crusher and Dazzling Daz for a tag team match in the iron cage. Phil’s dad even let them move the bed out of the room and add another mattress while Phil’s mother provided snacks and juices for refreshments. Later that night, when Phil’s parents noticed how quiet it had gotten, Phil’s father checked in on the match. There he found all four boys asleep on the mattresses, exhausted, for now… but they would be back next Saturday night for… Snackdown 2!