Where Do I Fit In?
by Andrew Foote
Throughout this story real organisations and real people are mentioned by name. Their place in the tale is in the author's imagination. No thoughts, words or deeds attributed to those people or organisations are real, nor have they ever happened. This is a story! It's fiction. The people and organisations, even when they interact with the characters, are presented in an entirely imagined and fictitious manner, and no discourtesy is intended to them by the author nor by the web site.
"Are you okay? Are you alright? You scared the crap, not only out of me but half the population of Gloucester I imagine?"
"Now I know you're alive and well then yes, I guess I must be but…….."
"Was it a flash-back?"
"No, not as such but 'he' featured. I killed him in my dream Andy? I actually killed a man and I felt no guilt, no emotion that is until……..cuddle me please?"
I held him close, facing each other stark naked with our legs crossing over and under each other's so our nether regions were touching. Under different circumstances, this would have been unbelievably erotic but I was totally focused on Lucas and trying to get him to calm down.
I pulled him closer to me, our heads on each other's shoulders and I could feel his tears running down my back. No, he wasn't like sobbing, it was a silent cry of someone very frightened as if they were facing their final moment.
I guess we stayed like that for a good fifteen minutes but then he lifted his head and looked at me through red-rimmed eyes. He kissed me briefly on the lips before speaking.
"What on earth did I do so right to deserve you Andy?"
I side-stepped the question with one of my own.
"In my quiet times, I ask myself the same question. What does he see in me? Why does he love me the way he does? I'm a nobody, just an ordinary snot-nosed kid of which there are tens of thousands so why me?"
"Oh right! You are so far from being ordinary as you put it as to be scary. A nobody? Andy, get a life already man? It's me who feels guilty about thrusting myself on you! I have issues and now……..I'm inflicting them on you!"
"Issues that we'll overcome together. If you'll accept me, I'm here for the duration. Nothing, and I mean nothing can get to you unless it manages to get past me first! We can beat this curse, we're a team and if we set our minds to do something, I know we can succeed."
"I……..I accept you with all of by being. Andy? Will you make love to me?"
The enthusiasm had returned. The spring in the step was back. Lucas had laid a ghost to rest at least for the time-being.
He was so up for it, it was scary and I had to fight to keep up with him during the following morning's training.
We did our endurance swim and once out of the pool, he turned to Liam.
"Look, we both know we were rubbish last night so is there any chance we could get back up there for like ten minutes?"
Liam looked at his watch.
"Fifteen minutes tops, okay? I'd like to allow you more time but the pool will be open to the public shortly and the staff will have to restrict access to the tables so off you go!"
At first we didn't go as far as the tables, opting instead for the spring boards. Again, why we both decided to do this remains a mystery but in any case, once we were up there we rolled back the counter balances so the boards we at their most springy then made our way to the tip and turned around with our backs to the pool, facing the back of the boards. A brief glance at each other and we bent our legs at the knees and jumped then landing back on the boards with only our toes and the balls of our feet for support, the boards bent and threw us into the air. We arched our backs and executed a backwards dive, a double backward somersault and a half twist so we could enter the water in a standard dive formation.
It worked and we surfaced to see Liam writing furiously on his clipboard. A quick hug together and we climbed out of the pool and made our way up to the top table.
We took our positions as if to execute our swallow, fingers linked, the count to three and away but this time we released into a double twist, re-joined fingers in mid-air, Lucas's left to my right then reaching out to join my left hand with his right just in time to enter the water.
By this time Liam had dropped his clipboard on the floor and gestured to us to get out of the pool and join him.
We'd never heard him swear before but tonight he couldn't stop himself.
"Where the fuck did those come from? What you did off the springboards has a difficulty rating of five from that height and I don't need to tell you, from a rating perspective, it doesn't come any higher than that and as for the table dive? I honestly don't know where that's placed because I've never in all my years of experience seen anything quite like it! Now……..please tell me you'd planned that?"
We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders before Lucas spoke.
"Nope. We never talk about diving, well only in general terms, we never plan ahead. Is there a problem?"
"No, no! Absolutely not! Please go and get showered and changed now, I've a lot to think about. Beautifully done boys! I'll see you tonight!"
The jog home was full of laughter and joking around with the guys as per normal but behind the scenes, we were to learn later that the phone lines were buzzing.
"Lauren? I'm really sorry to trouble you but I really need to talk to you."
"Let me guess. Andy and Lucas again. Am I right?"
"Spot on the money. Those two kids bother me Lauren. To be perfectly frank with you, if I didn't know them as the two fun-loving, mischievous and friendly lads that they are, I'd wonder if they're for real! I mean what I saw this morning was the single most perfect display of formation work I've ever seen but here's the problem.
I've always thought that we were dealing with a pair who could go to the very top of their game given support and the necessary coaching but……..my God Lauren? They're teaching me!
They execute difficult, almost impossible routines and they don't even discuss what they're going to do! What the hell is going on in their heads when they just do it without any consultation or discussion?"
"But they're happy, normal children?"
"God yes! They're so much fun to be around but I honestly thought I'd been there and seen it all but these kids have put a completely different perspective on things."
"What about their interaction with their friends? Have you noticed any tension between them?"
"Are you joking? They're as thick as thieves and what's more, we have not two but five very promising young athletes, not just hailing from Gloucestershire for Christ's sake, but from the same bloody school! What is it they put into the water there?"
"Ha-ha! Well that's a question you'd be better off asking Tony but to answer the bigger question, the simple truth is, we just don't know what's going on. I've sent the recording of that experiment with the wooden bricks together with other relevant footage to just about everyone I can think of but none of them have come up with a credible explanation but the one thing we must be very careful about is not to make a big issue of it. Both the boys must not be lead to believe they're any different to any of their peers, just perfectly normal lads with an enormous talent."
"It's very difficult though. Much as I try to ignore it, it's almost impossible especially after what I saw this morning. I try to stay calm but dear God Lauren?"
"Yes I realise how hard it must be but I cannot, we cannot, must not worry them into believing that they're any different or we run the risk of causing serious psychological damage."
"They do say that we only use a third of our brain, could it be that they can access something most people are unable to do?"
"Yes we've all heard about that theory but it's actually not correct. We use 100% of our brain, every part of it shows neurological activity although we don't know what the purpose of it is.
Look at it this way. Take a dozen individuals with similar backgrounds and all with identical IQ's. If we're all the same and assuming our brains work in the same way, why is it that one might want to be an engineer, another a doctor, an accountant or a builder. What is it that sets us apart? Why do some women prefer men with beards yet her friend prefers her man to be clean shaven? You might look at a woman and find her incredibly attractive whereas your twin might not. We simply don't have the answers Liam. Our hardware is the same so maybe it's our software that differs. There can be no doubt that Andy's and Lucas's seriously close bond, the way in which they're able to hear each other's thoughts almost, is a neurological process of some kind, extremely rare I grant you but not altogether unheard of but the fact remains, we don't have the answers. Reincarnate yourself in a couple of thousand years and maybe it'll be different."
"Not a chance! Once I'm dead, that's the way I want to stay. I don't much like what's happening to humanity and definitely don't want to be a part of the future! So where do we go from here?"
"Don't push them. Let them develop in their own way and at their own speed. I think their trip to Guam will do all of them a power of good. It'll allow them to take stock of themselves, help them to learn to relax again."
"Their own way scares me and I'm hardly able to keep up with their speed! I spend most of my time trying to persuade them to throttle back!"
"Don't do that. I suspect they know just how far they can push themselves. Try giving them free reign and see what happens."
"Okay. You don't ask for expert advice and then fly in the face of it."
That night it was business as usual so far as circuit training was concerned although Peter didn't seem in any hurry to chivvy us along, in fact apart from suggesting exercises he made no attempt to guide the pace, almost as if he was disinterested so I begged the question.
"Is everything alright Peter?"
"Yes of course. What makes you think otherwise?"
"Well you're not like being very pushy. Not telling us how quick you want us to be."
"Oh I see! I just want you to do it in your own time. You can please yourselves just how hard and fast or otherwise to train. I'm just interested to see how you approach things and by the way, there's no right way, no wrong way so just be yourselves."
"Okay, you're the boss."
"Not tonight I'm not! Press ups please lads."
"How many do you want to do? It's entirely up to you."
We stopped at fifty, our norm would be forty then similarly with sit-ups stopping at forty whereas we'd normally pack it in at thirty.
"Okay everyone. What game do you want to play tonight?"
The five of us got into a huddle to decide what to do.
"Water Polo. Do it in the diving pool so Paul can't cheat by standing on the bottom like he normally does!"
"Okay then. Let's go do it!"
We played for around thirty minutes and I'm not kidding, it was exhausting! Benny gave up first, hardly surprising as he hadn't been in training anywhere near the same amount of time as the rest of us but that said, even now he'd gone from being a desperately cute kid to a desperately cute kid who was toned and fit. Yes, please don't tell me? I'm as bad as Lucas!
It was time for diving practice so the others disappeared off to the main pool for a swim.
"Well boys? What do you want to do tonight?"
"Isn't there anything specific you want us to do Liam?"
"No Lucas. A free pool so just go and express yourselves. Surprise me!"
We had learned that not all difficult dives we taken off the high tables. The lowest springboards being less than a metre above the water brought their own challenges because the amount of time you're air-born is very short and it's here that speed and agility pay off so that's where we went first.
A couple of simple pike dives, synchronised of course just to limber up then the experimentation began. High dives with a single somersault progressing to two, then three. A variation on the same theme, a single somersault and a twist, then the same but with two twists but the finale, a double somersault and a twist. At that point we took a five minute break before climbing up to the three metre boards which would give us more scope.
The same sort of routines as before but we were able to include more complex moves now.
We finished the evening off on the high table, without doubt our favourite place to dive from and by this time we'd attracted quite a large audience. Not many people in the swimming pool were actually swimming, most were treading water in order to watch us. The odd thing was, all the talk of stage fright didn't happen to us, in fact it made us more determined to do well and to this end, at the risk of sounding swell-headed, our final dive of the night was blistering.
There were no sharp tumbles, rolls or twists, we threw ourselves into the air then like someone free-falling out of an aircraft and totally out of control, we sort of did the same thing except we were completely co-ordinated and entered the water at exactly the same time and in the same way. We climbed out of the pool and grabbed our towels to a round of applause. Liam was furiously writing on his clipboard so we wandered over to see what he was doing.
"Just making notes. You won't understand them, they're in my own sort of language but they detail every dive you did and the movements you executed. That way, when it comes to competition, we can sit down and put together a display in the certain knowledge that you're capable of doing all of them. I've also got them on video so we can refer back to them at a later date. Is that okay?"
"Yeah sure. Why shouldn't it be?"
"Taking photos or videos of children normally need their parent's permission and I don't want to fall foul of the law!"
"No, you carry on! Did we do okay tonight?"
"More than okay Lucas, much more than okay!"
"Lauren? Sorry to disturb you at this late hour but I wanted to thank you for not making my life any easier!"
"How so? No……..let me take a wild stab in the dark here……..Lucas and Andy maybe?"
"The very same, how did you guess? Look I'll not keep you up but I'm emailing you the video of tonight's training and diving. The latter speaks for itself but just to say that Peter also gave them a free hand and they actually did more than normal. Then they all played Water Polo in deep water and to say that's knackering is an understatement but then those two go on to excel themselves in a way I'd never had thought possible. It's almost like water off a ducks back. The training alone would be enough to exhaust all but the finest athletes but these are kids we're talking about here! I really don't know where I'm at with this Lauren? I really don't!"
"Okay. That file has just come through. I'm not doing anything tomorrow so I'll take a look at it tonight. Just one other thing? Did you notice them talking to each other?"
"No. It was as spontaneous as always. They did take a break at one point but the other three joined them and so it was just banter, you know, laughing and joking around. They never had an opportunity to talk about what they were going to do unless of course they all found their ideas hilarious! God I love those kids, all of them!"
"Yes well, it's a proven fact that a child's laughter provokes an endorphin response in pretty much every adult, almost like a feel-good medicine if you will! Go and sleep on that one Liam, soak up their vitality for life and enjoy their friendship. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Thanks Lauren. Good night."
The conversation as we jogged home was animated. We were all in agreement that the Water Polo thing had really pushed at the boundaries but also that we'd love to do it again.
Benny was very interested in our diving.
"What's it like up there, you know, the high tables?"
"How do you mean? Being up there or diving from them?"
"Both I suppose, I mean it looks really scary when I look up but to leap off them? I think I'd poo myself!"
"Confidence Benny. That's all it takes. Wanna give it a go?"
"What me?? Soil my Speedos? In your dreams Lucas, in your dreams!"
"Andy will take you up there won't you?" he said cutting me a glance.
"Well if you want to, why not? You can always go back down the steps if you need to?"
"But that'd be like chickening out wouldn't it? I mean someone might see and call me a coward or something."
"Yeah they might but then would they have the balls to get up there? Ask yourself that?"
"I see. Maybe ask me again in the morning!"
After our light run-around and swim the next morning, Benny looked a bit lost for conversation but I noticed he kept eying the diving tables so I had a quiet word with Liam.
"Benny sort of mentioned last night about going up top to see what it was like. Would that be okay do you think?"
"I can see no reason why not? He's a good little swimmer and presumably if he chose to jump or dive you'd be there with him so go ahead but don't go forcing the issue. If he decides he doesn't like it up there then leave him be."
Armed with permission I went and talked to him.
"So matey, how did it go this morning?"
"Yeah, it was fun like it always is."
"The thing is, I keep noticing you looking up at the dive platforms and you did say I was to ask you again this morning so are you up for the climb?"
"The climb yes but how I get down again, well I'm not so sure about that."
"Look. The pool isn't open yet so if you want to go back down using the steps then fine, nobody's here to take the piss but if you wanna jump then that's okay as well cos I'll be with you. I'll leave that up to you."
"Okay. It's like an itch that needs a scratch so you lead the way."
I suggested that we started on the lower springboards and worked our way up. Of course he didn't have a problem diving from the lower board although he elected to jump off the higher one.
He approached the edge of the lower of the two tables cautiously then looked at me for support.
"Up to you mate. Do you want to jump or go back down?"
"I'm gonna jump but will you be with me Andy?"
"All the way! Shall we do it?"
It took him a few minutes to work up the nerve but then he said "Count to three!"
I counted out load and to his credit, he jumped alongside me!
"Whoo-hoo! MASSIVE! Oh my God that was awesome!! Can we go again?"
"Let's do the deed and go right to the top, you know, complete the entire thing."
"Well I guess so. That last one was really cool! Will the high table be better?"
"Once you've done it, yeah it's fab but I'm warning you, that extra height is quite scary if you're not used to it."
"Come on. Lead the way then!"
As we passed the lower of the two tables, Benny began to look less sure but bless him, he finally got up there and stood beside me.
"Oh shit Andy? This is so high!"
"Yes well, I don't notice it anymore but I know where you're at. We went to Bristol and dived from a table four metres higher than this one and I'll tell you, both Lucas and I were crapping ourselves but once we'd done it, all we wanted to do was get back up there! Do you want to walk to the edge and have a proper look?"
"Would you mind if I held your hand? This is seriously scary."
"You carry on! I might like it, you never know?"
Instant diffusion! Benny burst out laughing!
"You'd better not or Lucas might just kill you! Come on, let's go take a look!"
We waked hand in hand to the edge of the table then Benny looked down.
"Oh fuck. The pool looks so small from up here doesn't it?"
"Yes but after you fling yourself off, it gets bigger very quickly!"
"I'm not sure about this Andy? I want to but then……..could we jump holding hands?"
"Can't see why not? Want to give it a go?"
"Count to three."
"No, wait a minute. First I have to be sure you're going to do it. If I jump and end up pulling you off the table, you might land on your back and hurt yourself so I'm looking for promises here Benny. Promise me you'll jump?"
"I promise. I don't want to go back down the long way."
"Okay then. On my count of three then we yell 'Geronimo!!'"
He looked up at me, yes he was very nervous but like everything he sets his mind to, there was also look of determination in his face.
"Here we go mate. One……..two……..three and GERONIMOOOOOOO!!!!!"
We came to the surface, Benny was sporting a grin that almost split his face apart!
"OH WOW HOW GOOD IS THAT!! SUPER-UNBELIEVABLE!! Could we do just one more?"
I looked at Liam.
"Okay. One more then get changed. The pool opens in fifteen minutes. By the way Benny? Well done! Good on you!"
"We hopped back up to the table, Benny looked much more at ease so I made a suggestion.
"Would you like to try something a bit different this time?"
"Such as what?"
"We dive together. Not in the usual way but as one body."
"What are you going to do, eat me??"
"Ha-ha! I love you to bits and I've got a pretty good appetite but even I couldn't manage you in one sitting! No what I was thinking of was this. If you piggy-back me and hold on tight to my forearms then I walk us to the edge. You cross your feet and put them between my legs and we dive. If you hang on tight, I know you'll love it. Lucas and I have tried doing it but we're too similar in height and weight for it to work well. What do you reckon?"
"Umm……..oh what the hell! Let's go for it!!"
What a little star! To say it went well is an understatement but the most important thing was, Benny was ecstatic!
He swam to the poolside and burst out laughing.
"I can't believe we just did that! What a sensation! I kept my eyes open all the way down until we hit the water and oh WOW! What an experience and what a pity the pool is about to open cos I'd give anything to do again!"
Liam was again busy with his clipboard but looked up when he overheard that comment.
"Really? You'd do it all over again?"
"You bet! It was terrifying, exciting and……..I can't find the words to explain it. I just know I need to go again sometime."
"Well young man? I might just be asking you to do just that another time. Now scarper, all of you. I'll see you this evening."
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