Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fearless Andrew Biggs

Andrew Biggs never said no to a dare. I remember one day the bell rang and he shot out of class and climbed straight up the flagpole. He had that crooked-tooth grin on his face and you would’ve thought it was all his idea, if you hadn’t known that Simon Parker had slipped him a note in the middle of Maths.

You could tell he wasn’t just doing it for the attention though. Hell, he just clung to the top of that old white-flagpole with a kind of wistful look on his face; just hung there admiring the view, oblivious to the crowd gathering below him.

Then a teacher heard all the fuss and called out, “Mr. Biggs, if you would be so kind as to join us down here on planet earth. You and I need to have a little chat about the school rules.”

Andrew just slid down that flagpole like it was a fireman’s pole and landed right at the teacher’s feet. He had that crooked-tooth grin on his face and not the slightest hint of fear in his eyes.

Andrew was the kid in the back row of the class photo, that photo where all the boys look awkward and half the girls are hiding behind their hair. Andrew’s in that back row, his crooked-tooth grin turned up to 10, making rabbit ears behind Mr. Peterson’s head.

Anyway, the real story started when someone dared Andrew to kiss Katie Miller during English.

Andrew got out of his desk, walked over to Katie, and gave her a kiss on the cheek an Alsatian would’ve been proud of.

“Andrew Biggs get your grubby hands off Katie Miller and get back to your desk. NOW,” Mr. Peterson yelled.

Throwing chalk had been banned the year before but you could tell Mr. Peterson really wanted to throw some then.

The rest of the class was dead silent pretending to work, but Andrew just sauntered back to his desk and sat down as if nothing had happened.

He probably would’ve gotten away with it too if he hadn’t said, “Hey Katie; do you want to go to the school dance with me?”

Katie, who was still rubbing saliva off her face, looked shocked. But before she could say anything, Mr. Peterson jumped to his feet, grabbed Andrew, and started dragging him out of the class. Andrew had gone too far, not that we blamed him; I mean Katie was okay – for a girl. But her father was a bit of a big-wig and everyone knew Mr. Peterson was afraid of him.

So, Mr. Peterson was dragging Andrew out of the class. Andrew didn’t look worried at all; nope he just walked along with that top-of-the-flag-pole look on his face as if he was having a nice relaxing stroll in the park. We were all a bit worried that Andrew would get the strap, but what happened next was worse.

Mr. Peterson was being pretty rough and Andrew wasn’t looking where he was going, so his feet got tangled in Simon Parker’s desk; he fell forward and landed on his head.

There was quite a lot of blood and we all had to go outside and play. An ambulance came and they took Andrew away on a stretcher.

We didn’t see Andrew for a few weeks but we heard he had been in a coma so that was pretty cool. When he came back he was all different and when Katie asked him if he still wanted to go to the dance, well I would have sworn he looked scared. He just shuffled off as if nothing had happened.

Mr. Peterson had to get a new job but our new teacher told us that Andrew might not remember all of us now and we shouldn’t tease him.

Simon Parker had just one thing to say to Andrew, “I dare you to climb the flagpole at lunchtime.”

Well, when the bell rang, Andrew shuffled out of the class and slowly climbed that old white-flagpole. He was only halfway up when he began to look all scared and then he started to cry. We were all embarrassed and the fire brigade had to come and get him down.

I heard a teacher whispering that Andrew was probably better off – everyone needed some fear – but I wasn’t sure.

Anyway, Andrew’s parents moved him to another school after that and we just got on with life. Simon Parker took Katie Miller to the dance and that was the last most people thought about Andrew Biggs.

I still wonder what happened to him though: to Andrew I mean. I miss that crooked-tooth grin of his. Well gee, I mean, it was nice knowing someone who wasn’t always afraid of everything.

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