Our eyes meet as I turn the corner towards the home changing room. He’s walking towards me from the other end of the corridor and we’re on a direct collision course. I avert my eyes sheepishly and step to my right, but as I do, he steps to his left. I see him in my peripheral vision. We’re still heading straight towards one another. I quickly step back to my left, but he steps back to his right at the exact same time, like he’s my mirror image. My horrifying, vampiric mirror image. GieKSik starts to laugh. “We seem unable to avoid each other,” comes the gruff, familiar voice from behind the dead eyes and the joyless, unmoving smile.
I look up and give the kind of facial expression that every Englishman perfects over his lifetime; The eyes roll in a full circle, as if to say “What are we like?”. The head shakes back and forth, and at the same time tilts ever so slightly upwards, to ensure that eye contact absolutely cannot be made. The lips curl up at the corners, in an attempt to convince our new foe that we feel something other than pure, unbridled fury towards them and the situation that they alone have caused and inflicted upon us. The whole thing is brought together by a short “Tsk” as the tongue clicks against the roof of the mouth. For such a tiny noise, it packs a hell of a passive-aggressive punch.
Content that I’ve made my point, I continue to walk, stepping to my right so that I can pass GieKSik. As I do though, he stops and places a huge padded hand on my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks. I instinctively look around for something that could be used as a weapon. A ready-made wooden stake perhaps? A clove of Garlic? A vial of Holy Water? I see none of them lying around. Just my luck.
“You have flies up your nose, my friend.” He says softly.
“I beg your pardon?”, I ask, taken aback.
“You are troubled. What is wrong?”
I smile wryly. “It’s no secret,” I tell him. “We’re losing. I’m failing. We’re in relegation form at the minute and I can’t turn it around.”
GieKSik considers this for a moment. I mean, I’m not great at reading the body language of vampiric sports mascots, but he does go quiet. “You’ve had some bad results, Franjo, but it is no use crying over sliced bread.”
I nod slowly. “You know, you really butchered that idiom, but I do appreciate what you’re trying to get at.”
He claps me on the shoulder. “Chin up”, he says slightly cheerily, before walking past me and rounding the corner. Feeling slightly confused, but slightly buoyed, I continue walking in the opposite direction towards our changing room. A weak smile creeps across my face.
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