Anyone who ever attended Sacred Heart Catholic High School knows about the Scrivens Brothers. Two corn-fed, rural-raised twins, who were trumped only in stature and intimidation by their younger brothers, the triplets. With shoulders like small trucks, and an inclination to use those shoulders as weapons while they walked the school halls, no one was safe from the triplets. Boys, girls, teachers, even the school priest I’m sure, had their backs slammed into a locker because they made the oh-so-common mistake of trying to use the hallways while one of the Scrivens brothers was in the building.
Now, there was never any sense of security in the halls of Sacred Heart for a number of reasons, but the most obvious being that there were five of these brothers, each just as ruthless as the next.
You may have successfully eluded through the hallway next to the tech room – you were more likely to find them here than outside Mrs. Curry´s Calculus class – where Mark was busy antagonizing some hapless soul, only to find yourself within a ten-foot radius of Paul. Big mistake.
Your shoulder is sent flying into the locker as you hear the familiar sound of ligaments, bones, and ego shattering to bits. You look up to see a few sympathetic glances, but for the most part, no one sees, given that the beast without remorse could – and would – strike again at any given moment.
If you ever wanted to see the crumbling of social order, you only had to look at a school hallway occupied by one of these brothers. As soon as you saw a figure resembling a cement mixer in construction boots and a John Deere t-shirt turning the corner, the decorum and composure of a Catholic school were swiftly replaced by one pure, primitive instinct. Survival.
“Boom,” There goes Kevin Gaines.
“Thud,” A small grade nine girl hits the ground after brushing into the knee of Matt.
“Wham,” Mr. Picard gets flung into a locker.
I once chatted with one of my friends who had played hockey against the Scrivens triplets.
“It’s like the puck didn’t exist. You could remove the puck from the game and the Scrivens probably wouldn’t notice.” They were the original bash bros.
The absolute worst part about the brothers, however, was that adults were completely oblivious to their antics. This was because the only time parents would see the brothers would be at church, where the triplets were all altar-boys.
“What happened to your shoulder?” My mom would ask when I’d return home from school.
“Paul Scrivens pushed me into a locker”
“Paul Scrivens? The altar boy? I don’t think Paul would have done that intentionally. It was probably just an accident.”
“No, Mom, he walked from one side of the hall to the other, shouldered me into the locker, then returned to the other side and looked for his next victim.”
“Well that doesn’t sound like Paul Scrivens, are you sure it was him?”
She had a point. You never really could be too sure which Scrivens triplet was approaching you. And although all three of them had the capacity and willingness to make you into a human pancake, there were varying degrees to their demeanor. Matt was the closest to having the human emotion of empathy, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to keep a stiff shoulder if you got in his way. But still, he wasn’t a tyrant looking for conflict. In a way, you almost wished he was though because the anticipation of not knowing which of the Scrivens you were about to encounter made it all the worse. It was like playing a game of Russian-roulette with only one chamber missing a bullet. There was still a 2/3 chance you were hitting the ground. Not great odds.
As a student body, we were all exceptionally vigilant. Being in the hall meant making yourself vulnerable so no one dawdled on their way to class. Come to think of it, I think that´s why the teachers turned a blind eye to the antics of the Scrivens brothers; they had never seen such order. And they had their own little Gestapo to thank.
My constant apprehension began to feel wearisome. I had become tired of constantly having my head on a swivel and decided on a different approach. I would befriend one of the brothers, in the hopes that the group would leave me in peace. So when I signed up for senior football, the fact that Paul and Mark Scrivens lined up in the secondary, didn’t escape my notice. From then on we would be teammates, brothers of the gridiron, and instead of a firm shoulder, they would greet me with a casual head nod, or maybe even a “hey buddy.”
Eventually, as the season got under way, I became familiar with Mark and Paul, and the Scrivens brothers stopped shouldering me into lockers. And although I was forever grateful for that, I couldn’t help but feel a bit cheated. The Scrivens had stopped hitting me into lockers, but every day at 3 o’clock they were given full freedom to flatten me into the hard dirt of the football field. I guess I hadn’t thought my plan all the way through, otherwise, I would’ve decided against playing Wide Receiver, the position that lined up directly across from Mark Scrivens.
Mark recognized early on that he was bigger, stronger and more aggressive than his inexperienced opponent and thus his job as DB didn’t really require much effort. He would jam me at the line of scrimmage and manhandle me for a few seconds before losing interest, similar to the way a cat might torment a mouse. Sometimes though I would sidestep Mark and catch the ball. On the rare occasion that that happened Paul would promptly fly over from his Free-Safety position and, without breaking stride, drop his shoulder pads directly into the soft tissue that surrounded my ribs.
As I awkwardly limped home every night after practice, my gait suggesting a bad case of early-onset arthritis, I would thank the high-heavens that the Scrivens brothers were now my friends, and I no longer had to face their abuse.