The day seemed to be crawling and in no haste to end. Just when I was starting to give up on the day, I remembered Jerry who had tried many times to invite me to his paintball club.
Jerry was a coworker who had been trying to be friends with me. I mean, he was not a bad guy, but he noticed I was not that enthusiastic about extending our relationship from coworkers to friends, so he was always careful around me. I noticed that too. Maybe at the time I was still enjoying my solitary life, but not anymore, I wanted friends, I was not enjoying my solitude again.
‘I hope it is not too late?’ I asked myself.
I picked up my phonebook and searched for his cell phone number. I dialed it and was answered after many rings by his voice mail- the common one “Hey, this is Jerry; leave a message at the tone.” He sounded aloof. Like someone had forced him to make the voice note. It was his usual sound.
“This is Bob,” I took a sharp breath and added, “from work,” I added that in case he knew other Bobs and he would find it difficult to place me. “Hey, hi…. I, I wanted to know if the invitation to your paintball club is still open.” I thought I sounded too desperate, so I to make it seem like it was not that important. “I mean, I am less busy today so I thought I could….”
“Hello Bob,” he answered the call just then and cut me short with his ominous voice.
The excitement and desperation I was trying so hard to keep sprung out of where I was trying to bury it the moment he picked the call.
“Hi Jerry, do you still have space for one more person in your paintball club? I’m bored as heck,” I said without thinking much about it.
“Ok Bob, you have the address, I will be waiting for you.” He hung up without saying anything or allowing me to say anything more.
It was very much possible I did not have they address anymore, or left it in the office. He had scribbled it on the jot pad on my desk the day he came to invite me. Somehow, I had tucked it in my wallet without thinking much of it. If I had, I would not have taken it from my desk, or even squeeze it and throw it inside the rubbish can.
I rushed into my room, picked up my wallet and checked inside. I saw the small paper tucked inside a few dollar notes. I handed over to the driver as I got into the cab.
“You know where it is?” I asked him.
“Yesh.” He said; he was an immigrant with a bad accent.
I wonder how they knew the city more than we did in a short time they have arrived here. This was what I was thinking about when he told again in his bad accent that we had arrived.
I met Jerry at the reception waiting for me just like he said he would.
“Hi… Sorry, I took a while.” I apologized just because I felt like it and not because I had really taken longer than I should.
“I hope this place was not too difficult for you to find,” he asked.
“The cabman knew everywhere,” I informed him.
“We were just choosing the team when you called; we found a place where you could fit in.” He patted my shoulder, and I was like an old friend he has been waiting for for a long time. “Let’s get you signed up and equipped first,” he concluded as he nudged gently towards the receptionist who was beaming at us from behind his desk as his job depended on him smiling at customers.
In a short time, I was wearing the battle gear and carrying a rifle to my chest. It was my first time at a paintball game, and I was glad it was going to be indoors. It would have been so confusing running around in the open.
I followed Jerry into the paintball hall, where he introduced me to the other guys. After that, I joined up with Jerry’s team.
There was a lot of obstacles and hiding places in the room. At first, I watched as the other guys ran from one cover to another, trying to mark out an enemy as they shoot their paintball guns and avoiding obstacles that could get them pinned down. I watched for a few seconds before I joined in in the shooting too. I did not move; I just fired from where I was, gathering the courage to move like others.
“Come on,” Jerry urged me on.
I took his urge as my cue and started moving for cover.
If I had shot anyone, I wouldn’t know, but I kept hearing “I’m hit.” The referee inspected some to make certain they were really hit. I lasted a few minutes before I was shot by one of the opponents myself.
That day became a turning point in my life. It was for me a great experience after all. Coming out amidst people to catch fun, becoming acquainted with total strangers, laughing and celebrating with them was exhilarating for me. And they made me promise I would be coming back.
On my other games I started getting with using the obstacles and hiding places to my advantage, and in a short time, I became so good at the game and a better person in the society.