I don’t often write pieces about true events, but this is one.
Two complete nobhead amateurs,
Bemused by shuttlecock shenanigans,
Intent only on fun,
A modicum of sporting pride,
The promise of a burger
In the pub over the road,
Having a laugh in the
Provincial leisure centre.
I must admit I’m winning,
Beating him as I invariably did,
Being such a sleek and agile sportsman,
Muscly, well proportioned,
The badminton bat an extension of my
You couldn’t get anything past me.
We didn’t take it seriously,
Like the time, accidentally buying
Different strength shuttlecocks,
Watching them sail over the other three courts,
Only once, our first game,
He sat in the changing room afterwards,
A towel over my head as he uttered
Just the two words.
I serve. He misses. We laugh.
I serve. He misses. I laugh.
I serve. He misses.
His racquet whips the air,
Hits at nothingness.
I serve. He hits it.
Whacks me in the face.
He serves. I hit it. He misses.
And so it goes on, I’m like a
Badminton gazelle, my muscly well-toned legs
Able to counter any attack.
He serves. I whack that mother.
Ooof, right in the goolies.
Deep in the game, now.
I am about to serve,
He lifts up his tshirt, wobbles his
Spherical beer belly, shouts,
Mesmerising, his stomach gyrates and convulses
Like a crocodile trying to upchuck a half digested zebra,
It completely puts me off my serve,
And as a scream rings out from the next court,
He laughs as I go to serve again.
She runs across our court.
That’s put you off again, hasn’t it?, he says.
We both laugh and i try a third time,
But something isn’t right.
A man, on the court adjacent,
Is on the floor.
He’s hit the desk, stone cold dead.
I run over, as do others.
He lets out a groaning grasping breath.
A hero from another court begins CPR,
While I run back, phone for an ambulance,
Fingers fumbling in the jacket I’d
Slung over the net post,
As if subconsciously anticipating this.
The first aider arrives.
We can’t stay here, I whisper.
I push the net post,
Then we go and sit in the changing room
Where we might philosophise,
Wonder if it’s the way he would have wanted
That badminton was all he lived for,
Trying not to think of
You never know when life
Might suddenly cease.
And we were having such a good time.
My face still ever so slightly stings
Where the shuttlecock hit it.
I can still hear his last breath.
Your belly, I tell my friend,
Would’ve been the last thing he’d seen.
The game is obviously a forfeit
And one changing room locker
Will remain closed for the end of the day.