Here’s the thing that it’s easy to forget about Cameron: while he’s a sweet boy who seems pretty harmless – especially when standing next to big ol’ hairy, scowling me – he still knows how to defend himself. In fact, he knows how to defend himself better than most people, I’d say.
It’s something I forget sometimes. Whereas Joey is more concerned about protecting his pretty face and Scott lacks upper-body strength, Cameron has some training behind his belt and works out constantly. He’s stronger than he looks, and he’s fast.
Ordinarily, this is a non-issue. The group of us has never come to blows. Tickle fights, sure – who hasn’t? – but not fisticuffs. Scott took a swing at me once in middle school, but like I said, no upper-body strength. It’s good to know he’s got skills if he ever has to get your back in a brawl, but also, that’s only happened a couple of times in the 10 some-odd years that we’ve hung out together.
So, I thought nothing of it when I found myself parking my old Buick in a distant space at the Douglasville Home Depot, where Cameron worked, late one night. I crossed the parking lot in front of the closed home improvement retail giant and slipped beneath Cameron’s rather high-riding Jeep. And I waited.
Closing time, and Cameron leaves the store. I see him talking to some other employees as he walks toward the Jeep. He unlocks the door (why it was locked, I can’t imagine – it was a Jeep for crying out loud). His feet were inches from my face. He stepped up onto the bars on the side of the Jeep, and began to climb in. I made my move.
I rolled out and bounded to my feet, actually grabbing Cameron’s pants leg to pull myself up. I reached in and grabbed him by the collar of his coat and began to drag him out, knowing he must be terrified by this attack I sprang from out of nowhere.
Then I saw movement, and the glimmer of metal. I ducked, just as the “swoosh” of the knife passed through the space where my face had just been. I stepped to the side, and a kick just missed my midsection.
“Ah, shit,” I said to myself. “Cameron doesn’t realize it’s me, and now we’re going to have to hurt each other in self-defense.”
I jumped backward and flicked my own knife open. Cameron was already on his feet outside the Jeep and looking for an opening.
“It’s me!” I shouted, thinking of nothing else that I could do to defuse the suddenly-tense situation.
Poised on the balls of his feet, his knife in hand, the other balled in a fist and raised to protect his face, Cameron said something that did not make me feel any better: “I know.”