I look up with a start. Walking straight towards me is James Stevens. I feel butterflies in my stomach. He hasn’t spotted me yet. The adrenalin surges through my veins, I feel slightly dizzy and my palms begin to sweat.
It’s been a year since I last saw him. I have been visualising this moment for nine months. I’ve been eagerly hoping for this opportunity every day and now that it is here I’m filled with fear, anxiety and self doubt.
I cannot let that stop me or I will regret the wasted chance.
I may not get another.
I must take advantage.
James sees me, but does not recognise me. I’ve lost weight, shaved my beard and grown my hair since he last saw me. As we approach each other I see the recognition cross his face. He looks as startled as me.
Now is the time.
This is my chance.
Everything is moving in slow motion now. The squawking of the rainbow lorikeets in the lemon scented gum fade from my notice. I feel my heart pounding, racing out of control. My knees begin to buckle and my limbs mildly tremor. I take a deep breath to steel my nerve and force myself forward.
I must do this.
No matter what happens, I must do this.
I step towards him resolutely with no expression on my face.
I must keep my head.
This must be surgical, just like I have imagined many times.
James looks stunned. He is lost in indecision. He nods and attempts to walk by. I strike as we pass. My right fist hits his nose and drives through the back of his head with full shoulder rotation. The blood spurting from his nostrils is surreal. I feel the crunching of cartilage and bone.
James was one of my dearest friends. He is now falling backward towards the footpath. My anger surges. I am beginning to lose control.
Keep your head.
This must be surgical.
It’s going as planned.
James breaks his fall with his right arm and attempts to regain his feet. He deserves no quarter. He betrayed my trust. He betrayed our friendship. The top of my right foot catches him under his chin, driving upward and throwing his head back. I think I’ve broken his jaw. This time he does hit the footpath, cracking the back of his skull on the cement.
Two shots in five seconds and out cold.
Broken nose, broken jaw and concussion.
All is going to plan.
Just one more thing to do.
He will feel this one when he wakes up.
The adrenalin is starting to get the best of me. I start to shake uncontrollably. My stomach is unsettled and tears are welling up behind my eyes.
I must finish this.
Retribution — for the 39 times.
Let him know what the pain feels like.
Let him be reminded of me every time he sees his broken nose in the mirror.
Just as I must carry the lifelong stain of his filthy virus,
Just as I must live with this broken heart.
I hear a passing stranger on his phone. “There’s been an assault in Ravenswood Lane.