I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it or not, but I’m a gamer.
These days that means mostly card and board games, but I have a history with role-playing games, and some of my most enduring friendships were forged in and around RPG tables during my high school and college years.
In high school, my friends and I met for regular gaming sessions on Friday afternoons. We did so at a friend’s country house (which, in the context of the small town I grew up in, meant anything outside the city limits, basically).
The driveway to the friend’s house, which was a dirt driveway that lay just off a dirt road that lay just off a country highway, was a quarter-mile stretch of straight, hard dirt. It was tree-lined on each side, pleasant and shady, which made it a lovely track for a short walk.
One game day afternoon, I was catching a ride with my friend Buck.
(Note: All names herein have been changed, usually to embarrassing alternatives.)
As Buck turned from the dirt road onto the dirt driveway, we found ourselves facing two of our friends, Clint (who lived there) and Gordie. The pair had evidently decided to go for a short walk, probably to get the mail, whilst awaiting our arrival.
Clint immediately stepped out of the way. Gordie, however, stayed put, forcing Buck to stop the car. Gordie then walked up and sat on the hood.
I glanced at Buck.
I saw the look on his face.
“Bad id-” I began.
Buck had already hit the accelerator, and we were off.
I don’t know what speed we got up to — probably, honestly, less than it felt like in those terrified moments — but after a few seconds of hard acceleration, Buck braked. Hard.
Gordie shot forward, took a couple of comically large, gawky, attempting-to-catch-his-balance steps, then collapsed face-first in a cloud of dust.
The cap he had been wearing fluttered gently to the ground a few feet away.
Gordie lay still.
The dust settled.
“Oops,” Buck said.
Clint came running up from behind as we stepped out of the car.
Gordie remained face-down in the road as we approached, and I really thought, for just a moment, that we might have killed him.
Just as Buck was tentatively reaching out to touch him, Gordie coughed and cursed.
As all ended well, we still laugh about this.