Comeback Kid: Episodes Two and Three

 

Episode Two: The Meeting

Uncle Benny always lived in the better parts of Milltown, West Virginia. The houses were all single story with very neat, square lawns perfectly dividing acre after acre. Every yard in the neighborhood was fertilized and not a single lawn pest was seen in any of the yards Brock passed. He pulled out a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes and lit one of them up with his lighter. He walked down the high end  block as he smoked and once he was finished with one, he started on another. In addition to living by far the least productive life, Brock was also the only one out of all of his family who happened to smoke. He smoked at least one half pack of cigarettes per day. Brock’s two favorite pastimes were smoking and video games, both of which he was rather good at and smoking was the one thing at which he could top Lenny, who would never touch a cigarette.

Yep, Brock’s lifestyle as well as his personal style of dress were probably better off being compared to the so-called every man of another time period. He liked to smoke, eat foods that were very unhealthy, such as fast food, boxed food, ice cream, pastries, cakes, and whatever else he could afford that week without breaking his meager budget. It was cheap and Brock was always on a very tight budget. As for his clothes, they were nothing more than faded straight legged jeans that wrapped tightly around his skinny legs. He usually paired this with some kind of overlarge t-shirt or sweatshirt, so baggy they made his legs look even extra small..

Contrast Brock’s lifestyle from Jed who took rather good care of himself, as did Andrea. When Jed was in high school he started getting more and more health conscious and broke into a rather serious fitness regimen. Jed wasn’t crazy into it, but he went at it enough to at least look like he hit the gym five to six days per week while he ate somewhat healthy and boasted a rather defined, muscular body. Andrea was the same way, except she and Jed could not have had different frames. Whereas Jed had a naturally larger build, Andrea was short and petite, a good six inches shorter than Jed and eighty pounds lighter. Much like Belinda, Andrea had a disdain for Brock from day one, also possessing a very low opinion of him and would probably not want her kids to be around Brock too often since she too would be scared that they would follow his ways. At least they would be in South Carolina on a beach somewhere while Brock was stuck up in River Valley pushing carts.

Brock thought back to the day Jed first brought Andrea around. It was the Fourth of July, 2021. Brock was thirty and Jed was twenty-five. She was Jed’s first known girlfriend and it was implied that day they had been seeing each other much longer.. She took kindly to everyone else in attendance, but she barely even took notice of Brock. Jed mentioned Brock’s name in passing and Brock merely glanced up and back down, saying nothing until Ana forced some kind of interaction against Brock’s will. Perhaps it was Brock’s less than warm welcome that turned her off. Or maybe Jed had told her about his brother’s former unrealistic goals that led to a lack of ambition,very dull personality, and outright laziness along with his victim of life mentality. Despite her disgusted attitude toward her brother-in-law, either no one in the family paid attention to this or they simply acted as if it were not a problem. And Brock’s parents surely took no notice of it whatsoever and that meant Brock would have to fend for himself in this avenue as well.

The grudge that Belinda held against Brock really created a strain on the ever so declining relationship between Brock and Lenny, who had once been Brock’s best friend despite their differences throughout the years in high school cliques, styles, and success. However, when Lenny really making a name for himself at Victory Electronics, he and Brock began to grow very, very distant. Brock felt Lenny left him in the dust and Jed soon followed. It was sad, really, how Lenny and Jed became their own dynamic duo in a sense while Brock was shunted somewhere behind them.

Brock strode over to the mill city, a line of old apartments the steel mill workers of the past once lived and also the neighborhoods Milltown was named after. It was getting even cooler out, and as Brock checked the time on his phone, he noted that the current temperature read fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Cold for this time of the year. The wind started to whip a little and Brock shivered, hugging himself in an attempt to maintain his current body temperature. That was when Brock first spotted me, standing right there, enjoying the beautiful scene of the distant treetops of summer fading into fall. It looked like a classic New England scene that I always felt God wasn’t too fond of due to the old pagan rhetoric it implied yet I always found to be amazing and breathtaking. It just goes to show only God has the ability to master the art of perfection, and he does so very well. If I could only be half the individual He is, then I will be okay with that.

Brock stopped dead in his tracks as if he thought I was some kind of criminal getting ready to make Brock my next victim but due to my Sherlock Holmes kind of attire, I couldn’t have been too threatening at the moment. I beckoned him forward with a vigorous wave of my hand. Brock looked around and hesitated for a few seconds before very cautiously approaching me.

“Hello, son,” I said, greeting him enthusiastically.

“Hello,” he said in an uncertain voice, still looking around wildly as if mapping out a possible escape route.

“What’s your name?” I asked him, already knowing the answer to this question.

“Brock Patrick,” he replied, putting his cigarette out.

“You don’t say much, do you, Brock Patrick,” I said lightly, trying to break the awkwardness in him.

“Uh,” said Brock, looking at me uneasily.

“Don’t worry, boy, I’m not a mugger!” I said kindly. “Tell me about yourself.”

Brock spent the next fifteen minutes telling me about who he was, why he was walking the streets at this time of early dusk, and what was going on inside his Uncle Benny’s house.

“I just had to, you know, get out of there for a bit,” he said, checking his phone again. “But it’s getting late, I should really get going.”

He turned to walk away but I called him back.

“Brock, wait!” I yelled, catching up to him, realizing it was he God wished for me to work with. Why God likes to do things by vaguely hinting me without telling me is something I’ll never know but as creator of billions of galaxies and seventeen dimensions, I can see why He doesn’t have much time to talk since His favorite hobby after saving souls is continually expanding His ninety billion light year creation. Keep in mind it only took a little over six thousand years or so to create almost one hundred billion light years of only He knows what. Kind of impressive.

Brock turned around quickly. “What?” he called back.

“Brock, what if I told you I have something to give you?” I asked.

“What’s that, an early Christmas present?” he asked sarcastically, crossing his arms and looking tentative.

“In a manner of speaking. What do you want more than anything?” I asked. “Trust me, I can make the unthinkable happen for you.”

“What do I want more than anything?” he asked, astounded. “What are you, some kind of magician?

“No,” I assured him, laughing a little at that accusation. “Just tell me and I will make sure you get it.”

“Oh I don’t know, what about a second chance at life,” he said, sarcasm still deeply etched in his voice.. “I obviously blew this life out of the water. Why can’t I just start over? I must’ve messed up somewhere between middle school and tonight. But hey, what are the odds of that ever happening?”

“What if I told you that you could start over?” I asked, putting him on the spot.

“Start over?” he inquired, shaking his head quickly. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t being serious, you know. That would be impossible.”

“Why not start over?” I asked. “Where do you think you went wrong with life?”

“Where do I think I went wrong?” he retorted, his voice rising dramatically as he lit another cigarette. “Wow, I don’t know, maybe at every little turn in my worthless life! Anything I’ve ever done must have been wrong. I was never anything. Always a nobody. I was always that guy who finished last or close to last in everything. I never stood out or impressed anyone. I’m thirty-five and I’ve never even had a single girlfriend, full time, good paying job, or a car that is at least somewhat recent! My brother is married and very successful as is my favorite cousin. Well, not so favorite now, but you get my gist. And I have a few others who are well on their way to the big time as well! How do you think I feel?”

“Why do you think you’re worthless?” I asked in a calm voice.

“Again, I make less money than anyone I know, I have a car that’s almost as old as I am, I live in my parent’s basement, I don’t do anything but lay around and play games all day and night, and I have no friends to hang out with! Do you need to know more?” he ranted, throwing his arms up.

“That’s sad,” I said, nodding. “Because if you allow yourself to do it all over, you might be able to change your past a bit.”

“You’re crazy, that’s impossible,” said Brock, turning away a second time.

“Nothing’s impossible,” I replied. “Just sleep on it. The Christmas season is fast approaching. We all deserve a mind blowing gift. Of course, it may never be guaranteed money or personal material will make you happy. Even if you have those, you will need something else that will.”

“A good looking girlfriend or wife?” he inquired. “Or a real career? Something to, I don’t know, be proudof?”

I shook my head.

“You, Brock, actually have a very bright mind that will understand exactly what I am talking about,” I replied. “Just do something for me tonight and believe you can move mountains.”

Brock gave me a look and started walking back to where he came from, finishing his third cigarette in a span of twenty minutes. It was nearing eight by now and in about an hour or so he and his parents to go home, sleep, and celebrate their day off in about twelve hours time. Well, they would be celebrating.Brock would be sulking on how another year was flying by with no success or happiness in life. It was another year, one with events, one with a few different people, but the same sorry Brock still lingered.

As Brock strode back he thought harder and harder about how miserable he really was. He was thirty-five years old and still lived at home, but that was the least of the problems. His parents still treated him like a pesky child every time he was forced to go to these stupid parties with them. It was actually worse when they had people at the house, where he had no escape unless he happened to be working. It was during these times he tried like none other to get work hours so he didn’t have to deal with his grandparents and other family. Since all of his immediate cousins were elsewhere, he was very often the only one his age in attendance. To make matters worse, everyone else was giving his parents frequent updates on what the others were doing these days and how each and every one of them were doing so very well in their chosen line of work. Brock’s parents would then boast on how well Jed was doing in South Carolina and how proud they were of him. Usually Brock did his best to isolate himself from these conversations, because they only upset him, especially when he was asked how his shameful occupation was going. Yet his parents, overly strict as usual in these settings insisted that he’d be social and stay around people so he had no choice but to stick it out and be miserable for three to six long hours.

Brock had no one else, which was even more depressing. Jed and Lenny were his two companions during his childhood but they were both grown up and doing their own thing these days and it was only Brock who lived in the past. He never had a girlfriend in his life, and was sure he had set a world record to be single for thirty-five years. What did he have to offer? Nothing but pain and misery, just like everyone his age he worked with, complaining about being a victim of life and that they would never, ever move up at Lucks as long as the place was in operation. Okay, so maybe a girl in his league would be one of the deli girls who had been there for a substantial time, such as Mindy.

Mindy was a short, squat thirty-one year old who had taken a liking to Brock since she started at Lucks about seven years ago. She was much like him. She still lived at home with mom and dad, made about nine dollars an hour working twenty-five to thirty hour weeks, was an avid gamer and loved every second of it. Brock did talk to her during breaks quite frequently and the two would exchange texts to update each other on their online journeys. Despite this, Brock could not bear to bring a girl like this home, especially if Jed or Lenny were in town with their families. Mindy did not come even close to Andrea or Belinda in anything and all Mindy would do is reinforce Brock’s embarrassment in front of everyone. And worse yet, she would probably reinforce this in a proud manner. Speaking of comparisons, comparing Mindy to Savannah was no different than comparing a Yugo to a Porsche, at least in the eyes of society.

He did own a car, but he bought it about thirteen years ago and today the car had over two hundred thousand miles on it. It routinely broke down and there were more than a few instances where Brock either forgot to change the oil or had simply blown it off, which resulted in a long lecture from Jay every time it happened. Not just that, repairs would often cost Brock a solid paycheck.

Brock finally made it back to Uncle Ben’s, somehow even angrier now than he was when he started this little walk to relieve his stress. If someone said the wrong thing to him, he’d wreck this party just like he did a few years back and spoil the summer’s grand finale for everyone. At least he would have succeeded in something.

“Did you cool off, Brock?” asked his grandmother, now sitting down with a few distant relatives on the couch on the back porch as he re-entered the house.

“Mmm-hmm,” he replied dully without looking at anyone, trying to weave his way through the thirty plus relatives in the small area. He felt their stares on his back and he just wanted to get back to the kitchen, which appeared to be rather empty.

It looked as if the entire party was now outside, including his parents. But he had little time to dwell on this issue as Ana started on him once again.

“Where did you go?” she demanded loudly in front of the party. “Got angry at me in front of everyone again, didn’t you?” she added in a smart tone.

It was so ironic how she usually played the role of sympathizer unless people happened to be around. Whatever happened to her in these situations was anyone’s guess. Perhaps it was the sheer embarrassment of having a loser for a son in front of a family of happy and well off people. All of whom had made a name for themselves in their chosen field.

“Well, I-I, just went for a walk,” he stammered, head down, trying not to look at anyone else.

“Brock, you’ve been smoking, haven’t you,” interrupted Riley loudly, seated in a chair on the left side of his mother. “I smell smoke on you. I can’t believe you engage in such a habit.”

“Yeah, you will only see your health worsen, Brett,” said Savannah knowledgeably beside Lonnie, who nodded feverishly at Brock.

“Yeah, Brock, it’s terrible for you,” agreed Lonnie, without telling Savannah she once again called Brock by the wrong name, which she always did. “Nothing good comes out of it.” For a second Brock just wanted to kick Lonnie both because he had confronted Brock in front of Savannah and Brock had the displeasure of seeing Lonnie claim her to be his. What an arrogant piece of work, thought Brock.

As Brock shot a very nasty glare at Lonnie, there was a murmur amongst the crowd while Belinda leaned over and said something to Jed and Lenny, her eyes on Brock, as if she wanted him to see her criticizing him to others. She then pulled Stanley close to her and whispered something in his ear, probably something derogatory about people like Brock. Brock further confirmed this the way Stanley nodded and then stared at Brock with a smirk and a flash in his eye that so resembled Lenny when he was that age for a few seconds before turning back to his mother, whispering something to her, still smiling feverishly and staring at Brock as if he were trying to provoke him to do something he would regret.

Talk about making a bad situation worse, thought Brock. It’s one thing when they confronted him in front of only the immediate relatives but now the entire party was staring at him, wondering what their slacking nephew, son, grandson, cousin, or in-law was going to do next.

Brock drew a breath and turned not to the kitchen, but instead stepped front and center into the living room as every single eye was now on him.

“You all know what, I’m going now,” he said in a high pitch, with his voice loud enough so he was clearly heard by everyone in the room. As of his means of transportation home was anyone’s guess as he rode to the party with his parents. “You all want to treat me like some seven year old, then please, I hope you’re all taking pleasure into doing so. Just what I expect from a group of arrogant, self important, self righteous people such as yourselves.”

“Brock-” started Ana but his voice drowned hers out after a second or two.

“I think every single one of you are the most self-righteous, barbaric, snobbish group of people I have ever laid eyes on-” raged Brock before being interrupted by his father.

“Brock, shut up!” shouted Jay, leaping to his feet off of his chair near the far end of the porch.

“No!” Brock yelled back, glaring into his father’s eyes while the stunned eyes of every single individual were now gazing on the pair of them, probably expecting to witness once again what had happened here once before as Jed, Lenny, and a few other men in the vicinity stood up, eyeing Brock, an ominous look flashing in their eyes.

“Brock, don’t do it, don’t do it,” warned Jed, giving Brock a very intimidating and piercing look. “You’re going to get manhandled if you do anything. Stop right now.”

“Not another word Brock,” said Lenny, trying to keep his voice calm as the whole porch now sat in silence. “We don’t want to force you out of here. Just sit and chill.”

Yet, Brock decided to continue yelling his thoughts at the top of his lungs. “I honestly can’t stand any of you people! All I’m wishing for right now-”

“Shut up and show respect to your relatives,” screamed Jay, his voice even louder as he rushed past Jed and charged towards his son, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt before Brock even had a chance to react. Even at fifty-nine, his father was still way too quick for the too short, too slow, too weak Brock. Those who stood up stepped forward a moment ago followed closely, ready to retaliate if the struggle turned to Brock’s favor.

Brock struggled as his father dragged him across the porch while Jed and Lenny kept close. Brock heard a few screams from the girls as the group struggled with Brock through the living room while Uncle Ben was now shouting Brock was no longer welcome at the house ever again. Finally, with the help of Lenny and Jed, Jay reached the door, still grabbing the collar of Brock’s t-shirt. They were now a few paces outside while Ana closely, as did Jed.

Now Brock was going to get it. A thirty-five year old man who still can’t figure out which age he should act was now in huge trouble. He was done and to add to the humiliation, the man having his way with Brock was a senior citizen. This goes to show just how physically weak Brock was..

“We’re leaving,” said Jay, voice shaking and continuing to drag Brock to the car while he still struggled but Jed and Lenny now grabbed under Brock’s arms and helped Jay handle a kicking and profanity screaming Brock. “You’ve pulled this once before and now you’re doing it again. JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

Jay shook his son as he asked the question over and over again while he, Jed, and Lenny threw brock into the backseat of their relatively new Ford Escalade.

“You’re the most arrogant, ungrateful, inconsiderate self-entitled person I have ever met,” he raged to Brock as he and Ana got in the front seat while Jed and Lenny now started walking back to the house.

“I am not, it’s all of those idiots in that house who keep talking about themselves,” retorted Brock angrily. “That’s arrogance!”

His father started up the car, turned, and eyed Brock dangerously.

“You need to watch that attitude of yours,” said Jay through gritted teeth. “You are an embarrassment, an absolute embarrassment to your mother and I. You’re thirty-five years old and you live downstairs on our couch and you’re not even thankful for that. You don’t help out around the house, you don’t do anything but work part time and play video games, you-”

Brock was now turning his attention towards something else instead of his father’s insults. He was thinking of me, and what I told him just a few short moments ago. He was drowning his father’s words out completely. Okay, if I could do it all over again, I would. I would do anything to do this all over again. This is my lowest of low points. I have lived a loser’s life up to this point in my mom and dad’s basement. What is it? Where did I go wrong? When did I go wrong? Let me do it one more time and make it right, Lord! Please!

Brock and his family got home that night at around nine and Brock went straight to his room, shut the door, and sat with his back against the door for what had to have been hours. It was nearing four in the morning when he finally crawled into bed and went to sleep, hoping that the Labor Day parties over the next few days wouldn’t be as bad as tonight’s. That’s if he was invited to them.

Episode Three: Back to School

When Brock woke up and put his glasses on he freaked out, believing his once again misplaced his very unfashionable frames as he looked at the pair in his hands, which were much smaller, wire rimmed, and much more fashionable. Eyebrows narrowing, he slowly put them on. He could see out of them perfectly. Uh, okay, weird, he thought, as he climbed out of his bed and began his search for his large glasses. He could not find them anywhere.

Sunlight was pouring into the room and Brock was now panicking that he was going to be late for work once again as he knew he already had two strikes against him in the last two weeks. One more and he may face yet another termination from Lucks.

Brock looked down at what he was wearing and it wasn’t the clothes from last night as he had fallen asleep in them. Instead it was a pair of shorts and a tee. Believing he had simply changed his clothes without knowing overnight and shaking his head, he heard someone walking to the door. Great, he thought, knowing it was Jay striding over, ready to bombard Brock for last night’s events and potentially on how late he was going to be for his seven to three work shift. Hadn’t he been humiliated enough?

But instead it was a much lighter rasp. Ana was tapping on his bedroom door, calling for him to wake up so he could catch the bus.

“What is she talking about?” Brock wondered out loud. “What bus?”

“Let’s go, Brock!” she yelled. “Come on, you only have a week left in the eighth grade! Let’s get moving! And bring your grades up these last two weeks!”

What was she talking about? It’s Labor Day, 2026, not eighth grade! Was his mother being delusional from last night? Brock peered through the blinds and looked out the window, expecting to see an old Cavalier, an Escalade, a Dodge Ram, and one of Jay’s dealership cars. When he did this, he gasped, looked away, and looked back over again.

“What?” he asked, not believing what he was seeing.

First off, the leaves were on the trees, which were as healthy as could be as if it were the middle of spring and not late summer. And in the driveway was a silver Ford Taurus, a black Chevy Monte Carlo, and a white Ford Ranger. All of these vehicles were from when Brock was in Edwin Middle School.

Brock took off his glasses and really studied them, thinking there was no way, but he was wrong. They were the same ones he wore from 2003 to 2005. He had not the slightest idea of what was going on. Then he heard the doorknob turn, with his mother entering.

“Oh good, you’re finally getting up,” she said. “I was going to pull you out of bed if I had to.”

Ana looked at least twenty years younger. Brock was praying she didn’t notice the dumbfounded look on his face, but he was wrong.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he replied, thinking of something to justify his body language. “Insomnia last night, that’s all. I’m coming out.”

When he looked down at the carpet in his room, he saw it was white, just as it once was before it had been changed to an elegant shade of brown. He walked down the hallway and he felt as if he had stepped back in time. Everything looked just like it did about twenty years ago. Brock knew one thing; he was in the past. He was back in 2005. May, 2005.

“I’ve never seen you sit down and watch the news before,” said Ana.

“Yeah, just something different, I guess,” he shrugged. He knew he would worry her if he started asking weird questions, so he had to figure this one out on his own.

As he watched, he found out that it was May 13th, 2005. Brock was in the eighth grade…..again. It was then that he remembered last night, and then he remembered the conversation he had with me.

“Who was that guy?” he whispered to himself. “Or…what was he?”

Brock now knew how honest I really was and that it was now up to me to help him avoid the mistake he made on this day during his original timeline. Well, now he was being offered the chance of a lifetime and that was to experience his life all over again.

Brock dressed and went outside just as the sun was starting to show itself in the east and waited for the bus to take him to Thomas High School, where he would then transfer to Edwin Middle School where he and his friends had just days to go until they moved on to Thomas High. Brock couldn’t believe he was back here, in 2005. It was at this moment he knew he was going to repeat the last twenty-one years of his life.

“Okay, Brock, that random guy you met last night wasn’t playing around,” he muttered to himself. “Let’s do this right this time. But how do I do it right?”

He boarded the bus and set off for the high school, stopping at various neighborhoods way out in the country. The bus route was just as Brock remembered it. First, it was Luther Drive and after that they took off past the baseball fields where Brock and many others played their little league baseball to an isolated neighborhood on a back road. Then, they went into a valley on a dirt road that was surrounded by woods and out onto a township road that was situated far out in the country. They went back into more isolated country roads until they finally reached the main road, a State Route and set off for the high school.

Wow, this is weird, he kept thinking, my mind knows how to drive, but I can’t legally do so. I’m craving cigarettes, but I doubt smoking will do me well at this point. I still have no motivation to do school work, but maybe I should buckle down? Brock’s mind was going crazy.

But why May thirteenth, though? He kept wondering why I not only took him back to the tail end of his middle school days, but what was significant about starting this journey at this date? Brock racked his brains and couldn’t figure it out, although he would remember why very, very soon, towards the end of the day.

Brock went about his day and I kept a close watch on him the entire time disguised as a janitor but I only needed to appear to him once, when the announcement came for those interested in playing football for the 2005 season.

“May I have your attention please,” began the secretary, Mrs. Wood. “Anyone in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade interested in signing up for football for both Edwin Middle School and Thomas High School please report to the auditorium.”

Brock, who was sitting in Language Arts class at the time looked up and saw about six boys, all athletes, get up and make their way down to the auditorium. Brock looked over at his English teacher, Mr. James, a muscular teacher who was a high school football assistant coach, looking on at the boys in the class as they exited through the door. Without saying anything and pretending he was not going to be seen, Brock stood up and turned to leave the classroom.

“Brock, don’t go down there and embarrass yourself,” said David, who sat next to Brock in the class. David was that one kid who for Brock acted sometimes a friend, and other times not so much.

With a mere glance at David, Brock nodded and left the room, though he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. He had the strangest feeling that he had done this once before, but it didn’t turn out too well.

Brock wanted to get into that auditorium and sign up just like all the other athletes. The only problem was, Brock was no athlete, and much of the school had known it at this point. Sure, Brock loved watching sports, but playing them in an organized manner was something else. For one, he was terrible at anything he ever played. Furthermore, any sport he had gone out for at Edwin Middle School he either never played in the game or gave up after a practice. Worse yet, many of those same people heading down to the auditorium went out of their way to make him remember it, as if they wished nothing more for wannabe Brock other than to keep him at the bottom of the food chain in the Edwin Middle School jockocracy.

So Brock walked out of the seventh and eighth grade wing, made a right, and took off down the main hallway that led to the cafeteria, gym, and auditorium. He still didn’t know whether or not he wanted to show his face in there and when he reached the back of the line he knew he had made a mistake as he felt as if every single soul down here had their eyes glued on him.

Coach Hawthorne, the middle school football coach was the one handing out the forms to the prospective players. Hawthorne’s crazy tough practices were the reason Brock never made it into a game. Brock was so deconditioned it was laughable and even in the seventh grade reserve games, Brock only made it in for a play or two at best. This was honestly why he did not go out for football in the eighth grade despite Lenny’s insistence to Brock that he at least try again. Brock turned and started edging away as if he planned on bailing on this little outing when I appeared again, dressed as a janitor.

“What’s up, Brock?” I asked brightly.

“What are you doing here?” he hissed, clearly unsure whether or not he was happy to see me.

“I’m making sure you do what you’re supposed to this time,” I said, crossing my arms.

“Which is?” he asked, glancing back to the line of students as if he thought they were eavesdropping on our conversation.

“What did you come down here for?” I shot back, immediately putting him on the spot.

“I, uh, thought about going out for football, but now I’m having second thoughts,” he admitted.

“Yeah, you are,” I said. “What was your first instinct when coming down here?”

“To sign up to play football,” he said.

“Then go sign up,” I said. “Go on, you have to do this. Do not repeat what you did in the past. You remember what happened, right?”

Brock sighed and looked at the line, which was starting to thin out.

“Go, now, quickly,” I urged. “Before Mr. James makes his way down here.”

Brock had a look of realization on his face as if he now had the flashback fully in his mind and instead of walking away, he drew himself to full height. “Okay then,” he said, turning and walking up to Mr. Hawthorne.

“Here you are, Brock,” said Hawthorne, handing him his forms. “Great to see you down here.”

Brock had a confused look on his face as he took his seat by himself somewhere near the back of the auditorium. As Brock took his seat behind self-proclaimed preps and star wide receiver of the Edwin Middle School team, Andy, turned to look at who sat a few rows behind them.

“Brock, you’re here?” he asked, but his voice didn’t have any sarcasm in it. On the contrary, he sounded shocked, yet impressed. “I like it!”

Brock said nothing but nodded in an uncertain manner but before he could look away Andy spoke up again.

“Come on up here with us, we have a few more seats that need filled up,” he said, using his head to direct Brock. “You’re an eighth grader too. We’re kicking the sixth and seventh graders out of our seats.”

Brock stood up and strode over, sitting between Andy and the star running back and linebacker for the middle school team, Mike Marcos.

“What up, Brock?” greeted Marcos, giving Brock a fistbump.

Brock could hardly believe what was going on and when he turned to look at me, I gave him a brief thumbs up and walked out of the auditorium. My work was done for today.

The Thomas High School Football Coach, Greg Lawrence, went over the policies and procedures about being part of the football team and what it meant to be a Thomas High Bearcat. He said that he expected effort, drive, and a positive attitude each and every day. He couldn’t guarantee that each of them would have a perfect season, but he could guarantee that they would be better players by season’s end if they gave full effort all season long.

 

What Brock just did was not part of the original timeline of events. What he did today, however, just set the stage for the rest of my entry. He did not know it, but going out for football in the year 2005 was the single most important decision he had ever made. Now he was on the right path to live the rest of his life as a winner and not what he was in the original timeline. Do not think for a single second, however, that Brock did not experience pitfalls in this new life. No, he was still human and still prone to error, and even the most successful people have that one chapter in their life they will never read aloud. He will still experience setbacks, some major, some minor, just like any mortal human being would. But, he was at least onto something where he would finish far above than where he started.

Before I go any further and reveal what happens to Brock in his new life, I want to revert back to Brock’s original timeline because in order to understand and appreciate his new life, it’s important to explore what made Brock who he is in present day and to avoid some of the pitfalls he fell into during his old life. Be prepared, as the next few chapters are going to be very painful to read but a lot can be learned.

 

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