"From the Sidelines" is the 56th episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
For every action, there is an equal and appropriate reaction, and that sentence couldn't be more true for the lives of Andy, Barrett, Desmond and Mike. Watch and learn just how one life can affect another, and, above all else, that everyone gets desperate from time to time.
One Year Ago
The bell of Wiksteria High rings to signal the beginning of the school morning, and the children all beginning walking towards its door. Amongst the crowd of children, is a group of four schoolboys.
We zoom in on one of the schoolboys - Andy - a quiet looking boy with glasses and a cross handing from his neck.
Barrett gave little thought to the meaning of desperation. In fact, he gave little thought to anything. Barrett mostly took life as it came. He was just a young high school student after all, he merely wanted to enjoy himself...
We zoom in on another schoolboy - Barrett. He has an iPod earplug in one ear and one hanging from the other ear, moving his head to the music as he walks. He smiles at a passing girl, Hannah, who smiles back at him.
We zoom in on Desmond, a boy of Arab descent. The four boys, all talking, make it into the building and begin walking down the hallway together.
We zoom in on Mike, who is clearly leading the conversation with his friends. They then come to their lockers and all part ways 'til lunch, bidding each other a good day.
...You see, even if we don't realise it, our actions can have effects on those around us. And at Wiksteria High, the ability to face the spreading desperation was an invaluable trait. For desperation is something to be prepared for.
It was the first day back after the summer, as well as the first time these four friends had seen each other in over a week.
Flash to Mike walking through the school gates. Soon enough, he's walking alongside Andy. Soon enough, they're walking alongside Barrett. And soon enough, they're all walking alongside Desmond.
And what did they do in this situation? They talked, about my death.
"Did you hear about that kid who got killed this summer?" Mike asks his friends once they've stopped together on the school yard. "James Clark?" Andy asks. "I heard about that," says Desmond, "Apparently he was stabbed in his home." "It's true," Barrett chimes in, "My aunt lives next door to him – she saw him being removed in a body bag." "Yikes..." Mike says, "Makes you think, doesn't it?" "About what?" Andy wonders. "I don't know, just..." "Yeah, I get what you mean," Barrett says. "Anyway, off of that depressing note... we should get to class," Desmond says happily. "I thought you said we were getting off the depressing note," Barrett reminds him jokingly. "My father tells me I'm lucky to be able to come to school in the first place and that I should enjoy every moment while I can," Desmond explains. "Sounds nice," Mike says, "Sounds nice..." the school bell rings, and the four of them disperse.
Andy had morals. And being someone with morals, he thought it was always wrong to walk past someone in need. And then he met Joe.
We see Joe sitting on a bench alone during his period of isolation (See "Partners in Crime") when Andy sees him, approaches him and sits beside him. "Are you okay?" Andy asks. "Please go," Joe tells him. "Do you need help? Someone to talk to?" he wonders. "Dear lord... please leave," Joe says again. "Please," says Andy, "Don't blaspheme. Is there anything I can do for you? You look sad." "'Blaspheme'? Oh, don't tell me... you're religious?" "Certainly," says Andy proudly. "Well I'd give that up now if I were you," Joe tells him. "And why would I do that?" Andy wonders. "Because you're wasting your time," Joe assures him. Andy asks, "What makes you so sure?" "I've lived," Joe says. "Meaning what?" "Meaning that I've suffered hardships I don't deserve, which doesn't really align with your God," Joe moodily states. "I came here to help you, not to convert you..." Andy points out. "I don't need help and I certainly don't need yours. Do yourself a favor, kid. Give up on the religious crap. Trust me. No matter how good you are... it won't stop God from punishing you." Andy looks confused and walks away from Joe... just as Katie is seen to be approaching him (See "The Many Things That Make Me").
Andy ignored Joe. His faith was too strong. But he would soon learn that there are events even faith couldn't prevent...
It's the Wiksteria High fire. Andy's legs are trapped under a beam in a classroom and he's howling in pain as Mike, Desmond and Barrett attempt to lift the beam off. "It's so heavy!" Barrett exclaims. Andy screeches, his screams going silent. He's in too much pain. He soon calms down and takes deep breathes. "Just leave me! Save yourselves! This whole roof is gonna collapse any second!" "Never," Mike assures him, still trying to heave the beam. "We just need the right amount of leverage," Desmond says, and the three of them push it with all their might, causing it to shift. "Just go!" Andy exclaims. The others ignore him. Mike looks at where Andy's legs are trapped; "I think we can shimmy them out," he says. "Mike..." Andy breathes, "Please..." Mike ignores him, putting his hand under Andy's armpits and pulling. "Guys, help!" he yells. Desmond and Barrett work together to slide Andy's legs out of the small gap they've created. "I can't... I can't..." Andy tries uttering, soot and sweat covering his face. "Feel..." he tries, but the crackling of the flames drown him out. Soon enough, he's free, and his three best friends carry him to safety.
But he would be needing it more than ever.
Andy is seen lying in a hospital bed with Mike, Desmond and Barrett all standing around him. "I'd like to be alone now," Andy tells them. "Are you sure?" Mike asks. "Yes," says Andy, "I'd like to rest." "If you wish," says Desmond, and the three visitors leave. Andy lays there for a moment but is soon approached by a doctor. "News?" Andy asks, fearful. "I'm afraid so..." the doctor says. "What is it?" Andy wonders. "We've run all the tests we can, but... it's very likely that you'll never walk again." "Very likely? So it's not impossible that I won't?" Andy asks. The doctor is silent. Andy asks more promptly, echoes of tears in his eyes, "Is it possible for me ever to walk again?" The doctor shakes his head slowly, "No."
Following the devastating news that he would never again walk, Andy had began going to therapy. And after over a month of sessions, he was making progress...
Andy is in a wheelchair, sitting in Dr. Sonya's office. Dr. Sonya sits across from him and asks with a smile, "So, how are we feeling today Andy?" Andy nods, "Good." "I see you've let go of a lot of your anger. That's great," Brad smiles. "I hold no grudge," Andy smiles back, holding onto the necklace which dangles from his neck, "God just chose a harder test for me, that's all. He gives me enough strength to face all he faces me with." "That's a great attitude. But I want you to remember, Andy, that you've came this far because of your own strength. You've came so far, and it's because of the strength that has come from within yourself. You should be really proud," Brad assures him. But Andy insists, "My strength comes from God. He provides it every day through the love of my family and the support of my friends. And as long as I have that, I will always be able to face anything." Brad smiles in defeat, "Well, as long as you're happy, who am I to argue why. That's all I care about, Andy." "Thanks, Dr," Andy smiles, wheeling himself towards the door. Brad stands, "Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you, Andy." "I will. And thanks so much, Dr," Andy says, opening the door. However as the door opens, Andy looks to see a poster on the other side, it reads Warning: Pedo and child rapist lies within! Children enter at their own risk! Brad dashes over and rips it from the door, "Sorry about that. One of my ex-students. I thought we were making progress with his anger, but clearly he still has a lot." Andy shrugs, "I know it's not true, Dr Sonya, you're like the nicest guy in the world." "Thank you," Brad says genuinely. Andy wheels off, as Brad closes the door and then sighs to himself.
Meanwhile, Barrett was making some progress of his own. Progress with a girl he had long desired...
Barrett is walking down the school hallway with Hannah, after school hours. "So you probably figured out I kind of have a thing for you," Barrett says with a grin. Hannah looks down with a smile, "Then maybe you should ask me out." "Dinner and a film, tomorrow night," Barrett suggests. Hannah smiles, "Sounds good." "I'll just take your number..." Barrett stops, realizing his phone isn't in his pocket. He realizes, "Oh, damn, I left my phone in the classroom. Wait for me outside." "Okay," Hannah smiles. Barrett turns and begins running down the hallway, coming to the staircase. However lying on the bottom landing, is an unconscious Ben with blood running from his head (See "Wanting for Everything"). Barrett stands in shock, before turning back around and calling down the hallway to Hannah, "Hannah, call 911! Someone's fallen down the stairs!" Down the hallway, Hannah nods and gets out her phone.
The scenes cuts to Ben sitting in the hospital bed, as his eyes open. He sees Barrett sitting near him. A doctor then enters the room, "How are you feeling, Ben?" Ben looks around drowsy, "What happened?" "You fell down the stairs," the doctor informs him. Ben thinks and then he remembers, "No, no, I was pushed." The doctor's eyes widen, "Pushed? Are you sure?" Ben nods, "Yeah, yeah, I remember someone pushing be from behind." The doctor looks serious, "Well I'll have to inform the police of this. I have already contacted your family, they should be here soon." Ben nods and then looks over to Barrett confused. The doctor sees this and answers, "This boy here is the one who found you." Ben exclaims, "Oh, well thank you." The doctor turns and exits, as Barrett stands, "Oh, I just did what anyone would have. Actually it's my girlfriend's fault that we were still in school after hours. We were at the nurse, over her asthma." "Well your girlfriend's asthma saved my life," Ben remarks, "Thank you. I hope that one day I can repay the favour." Barrett goes to speak but suddenly Emma comes running into the room frantically, "Oh, Ben, thank god you're alright!" She runs over to him and hugs him. "How are you?" she asks. "Alright. My head hurts but I'll be fine," Ben says. "Thank god," she smiles, she then turns to Barrett and says, "And who are you?" "This is Barrett. He's the one who found me," Ben explains. "Oh, well thank you so much for helping him. I don't know what I'd do without him," Emma smiles. Barrett smiles back, "Sure. Well, I'll leave you two alone." Barrett heads for the door but Ben shouts after him, "Barrett, I will think of a way to thank you. I promise."
Unfortunately Ben would never be able to pay back such a debt. It just wasn’t in the cards.
Barrett is sitting in the cafeteria with Hannah. Barrett stands, "I'm going to get an ice cream. You want one?" "Sure," Hannah replies. "Chocolate, right?" Barrett asks. "Of course," Hannah smiles. Barrett leans in and kisses her. "Be right back," he says, turning and heading through the cafeteria. But suddenly room is filled with screams at the sound of gunshots, as Erwin enters the room and sends a spray of bullets over to the exit where Barrett is standing, a bullet hits him and he collapses to the ground, still alive. He looks at where the bullet has pierced through and exhales weakly, trying to stop the blood which is pouring out badly. He looks up to see the other children have gotten under the cafeteria tables as Erwin stands before them. "SHUT UP!!!" he screams, causing the room to go quiet. But Barrett continues to hear a noise - a girl exhaling loudly in a panic attack - it's Hannah. She is struggling to breathe in the panic due to her asthma. "I SAID SHUT UP!!!" Erwin screams, turning to her, and firing a spray of bullets at the girl. Barrett looks over in horror as Hannah is killed before him. He begins to tear and tries to scream her name but his weakness causes him to merely mouth the word. Katie is now on her knees before Erwin, as Barrett looks over to Ben pulling Liz and Emma out from under the cafeteria table. Barrett smiles, seeing a rescue, and he tries to mouth for Ben. "HEY!" Erwin suddenly screams, seeing the three, who then begin running through the exit of the room, passing Barrett on their way. Barrett watches them run, and Erwin chase after them, as suddenly his eyes close and he falls back dead.
Inside the church, the funeral of Barratt is being held. Desmond, Mike and Andy are all making their way down the aisle. "How can he be dead?" Mike asks. "I don't know, it's so unfair, he was such a good guy," Desmond comments. Andy, looks at his necklace, wheeling himself down the aisle and says, "He's in a better place now," Andy states. The others look at him in doubt, but Andy continues to look at his necklace, trying to remain confident.
Barrett's death was hardest of all on Desmond. For ever since Desmond moved to Wiksteria, they had been the closest of friends...
Desmond is standing in the graveyard, as he leans down and places flowers on Barrett's grave. "I think of you every day," Desmond assures him. He looks over to see Josh standing over the neighbouring gravestone. "Friend or family?" Desmond asks. "Um...family, I guess, he...he...was my brother," Josh responds. "I'm sorry," Desmond says. "I hardly knew him. He was troubled. But he didn't deserve what happened to him. I only wish I could have helped him," Josh says. Desmond nods, "Life can be unfair sometimes. And it's always fragile. Something I've learned the hard way." Josh nods in agreement. "Just gotta look on the positives," Desmond says, trying to smile. "What positive?" Josh asks. Desmond begins walking off as he says, "We're still here."
Sadly for Desmond, there was plenty more desperation to face.
Desmond's eyes open, followed by heavy breathing. He looks around. He's inside the crashed school bus, lying bruised and bloody (See "For Whom the Bell Tolls"). He turns to the boy sitting beside him, the boy has hit his head hard off the bus's window. His open and lifeless eyes stare into Desmond. Desmond gets up from his seat in a frantic fright, he looks around for help. He sees there a is a large piece of wreckage from the school building, broken through the bus ceiling, which is blocking his and the other children's way to the exit. But Katie and Joe are busy heaving at the lodged debris. At this he smiles. But suddenly as Joe and Katie dislodge the wreckage it causes small fragments of brick to drop through the ceiling in its palace, the bus becomes filled with remnants of the school building and clock tower; it comes falling down the aisle of the bus, towards Desmond. The weight becomes so much that the entire vehicle shifts over to the side, Desmond closes his eyes and braces himself as the bus's side smashes hard onto the ground.
Outside the bus, the students of Wiksteria High gasp in shock at the sight of the bus toppling over. Mike and Andy, who are together, make their way forward, but a policeman holds them back, "Stay back, kids!" "Our friend is in there!" Mike shouts. They turn at the sound of ambulances, as paramedics go dashing over to the crashed bus. All the kids continue to stand and watch, as first the surviving children are taken carefully from the bus and taken away in the ambulance. However they all look in horror as the deceased children are taken out, placed on stretchers and then have a blanket placed over their bodies. They see Desmond taken out the bus, he is placed down and a blanket covers him. Mike screams, trying to push past the police for his friend. Andy looks down and begins to tear, holding onto his cross necklace.
Once again, Mike and Andy find themselves walking down the church aisle for another funeral. "I can't believe we're doing this again. We just lost Barrett," Mike sobs, "Why is this happening to us?" Andy remains silent, wheeling himself down the aisle while looking at his cross necklace, with a face of doubt and contempt.
Fraser Gale is seen leaving the dinner party at Joe Hadland's house (See "Come on in for Dinner"). He turns and waves to Joe, Ben, Rena, Josh, Alex, Dean, Mary, Liz and Katie, all of whom are present, before stepping into the car that's waiting for him. "Sorry I'm late," says Mike as Fraser shuts the door, "But have you seen this rain?" "It's alright, I was in no rush. Thanks for coming to pick me up," Fraser says, applying his seatbelt. "No problem," Mike says, starting the engine before driving away. "It also took a while to find the right house," Mike tells him. "Honestly, it's okay," Fraser assures him. "What were you doing there in the end? Looked like a dinner party," says Mike. "It was," Fraser tells him. "Oh? In the rain?" Mike asks. "It was the only way I could join in," Fraser says, shrugging. "Hmm, odd," Mike says absently, "So, do you want me to drop you off at home?" "Nah," Fraser tells him, "The park would do." "Sure thing," Mike tells him, turning the car around.
The car is soon seen pulling up beside the local park, adjacent to the town woods. "Thanks," Fraser says, stepping out of the vehicle. "No problem, buddy," Mike assures him, before leaving. Fraser makes his way into the park.
Having Mike as a friendly acquaintance was something Fraser Gale enjoyed, but it was a decision Mike would regret for the rest of his life... if he only knew.
Andy is seen in his home when the phone begins to ring. He rolls over to it and answers it. "Hello?" Andy asks. The other line says something and he asks, "Yes, I am he... what do you want?" "We're afraid that your sister, Samantha, is it?" "Yes..." "We're afraid she's dead."
Andy is next seen down at the police station; he is sat in his wheelchair beside the dead body of his sister, which has been laid down in a morgue. "Yes, that's her..." Andy utters, "That's Samantha..." a tear falls down her cheek. "I'm so sorry," says the coroner. "How did she... How did it... What happened?" Andy asks, trying his best not to become hysterical. "Well... first her legs were broken... and, from what we've examined, something was forced down her throat until she was choked to death." Andy's eyes widen upon hearing this. "How was she found?" he asks, more tears silently streaming down his face. "Two boys in the park stumbled upon her," the coroner says, checking the police report, "Josh Miller and Alex Manning." "Samantha..." Andy utters, rolling over to her and sweetly kissing her on the forehead, his tears dripping from his face. "Again," says the coroner, "I'm so sorry."
Andy is seen to be sitting in a grave yard, sitting in front of his sister's grave. His wheelchair is seen abandoned beside it. "I thought I'd find you here," Mike says, sitting down beside Andy. "Samantha was all I had..." Andy utters. "You have me," Mike tries. "Don't," Andy tells him abruptly, "You don't understand... when my parents died, she was my rock. We were each other's rocks... we... she... she helped me through the chair... she was always there for me when I needed her... she was the last bit of family I had left... I... I..." Andy can't continue; he breaks down in tears. Mike puts an arm around him, "I'm so sorry." "That's what everyone says," Andy tells his friend, "Like their 'sorry's mean anything. Like they're gonna bring her back!" "I really don't know what to say..." Mike utters. "Then don't say anything!" Andy yells, more tears streaming down his face. Mike keeps an arm around his friend. "What kind of God would do this...?" Andy asks meekly. "Don't," Mike says now. "Why did he take her from me?" Andy asks. "Seriously, don't. Your faith is part of who you are, once you start to question that, that's when everything starts to fall apart—" "EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY FALLEN APART, DON'T YOU SEE THAT?!" Andy yells, "It may have escaped your notice, but I can't walk! Our friends are dead! My sister is dead! What kind of a God would do this...?" "Andy, please..." Mike utters. "What kind," Andy utters as he lays on the floor, staining the ground with tears. "Do you want some help getting back in the chair?" Mike wonders. Andy looks up at his friend, looking at him through tear-stained eyes. "Yes..." he utters, "But not yet." Mike helps his friend sit up and holds him as he cries. "Don't be there for me too much," Andy requests. "What do you mean?" Mike wonders. Andy tells him, "Everything I touch dies."
Andy is sitting in his home. He takes a lighter from out of his pocket and uses it to light the candle in his other hand. He returns the lighter to its place and rolls across the room, placing the lit candle next to a group of others like it. They are all surrounding a photograph of Samantha. Beside this shrine is a picture of Andy, Mike, Desmond and Barrett. "I'll see you soon," he tells the photograph of his friends, he then turns to the one of Samantha, "But not before I see you." A tear rolls down his cheek, and from the other side of the candles, he retrieves a revolver. "I won't have to miss any of you anymore..." he says, pointing the revolver at his head and thumbing back the hammer. He takes one last tearful look at his sister before averting his gaze upwards. "I'm sorry, my Lord," he utters; he pulls the trigger and drops from his wheelchair. The shot moves in on the photograph of Samantha, her face now splattered with her brother's blood.
Mike was depressed.
We see Mike sitting on his sofa, unwashed and unshaven. Nothing is on the television. He sits there in silence. His cheeks are stained with tears but he's no longer crying.
He sat there day after day, waiting for the pain of losing his friends to wash off...
We see more flashes of Mike, having barely moved in weeks.
Until one day, he decided to give mankind a little test. If he could get through one day, just one normal day, without anything happening to diminish his faith in life, he would continue...
Flash to Mike walking to school.
He did not pick the best day for it.
Mike arrives at school to see that everyone is crowded around the base of the clock tower. He looks up in confusion to see Alex Manning standing at the top, with Eric Lyons approaching him. "No..." Mike says, "Please no..." But Alex jumps, and Alex dies. Mike falls to his knees.
Mike is next seen standing outside of the local church. Lyons is seen being pulled into a car, but Mike ignores this, watching as everyone exits Alex's funeral. He watches until every last person is gone, and sighs. "Did you know Alex?" a voice asks. Mike turns around with a start and sees Renato Abelho standing there. "I'm sorry... who are you?" Mike wonders. "I'm Rena," he says, "You?" "Mike," Mike says, and the two shake hands. "So, uh... did you know Alex?" "No..." Mike admits, "But I saw it happen." "We've had a lot of those today," Rena tells him. "I can't go on..." Mike utters. "I'm.... I'm sorry?" asks Rena. "My friends... are all dead... The one day I decide to renew my faith in life... I see that... it's like the universe is trying to tell me something, it's like..." "Mike, calm down," Rena says, putting his hand on Mike's shoulder. "Why are we all here if all we do is die?" Mike wonders. "That's not all we do..." Rena assures him. "It is from what I've seen," Mike tells him. "Then you've had a rough deal," Rena tells him. "You have no idea," Mike says, a tear streams down his cheek. "And that's it," Rena says. "Excuse me?" "You've had a rough deal – that's it. The universe is not trying to tell you anything and the moment you think it is..." "Yes?" Mike asks. "You know what?" Rena says, "Come with me."
Mike is seen following on from Rena as they walk into the latter's home. Here, we see Joe, Ben and a very depressed Josh on the couch. "Come in," Rena says, "Take a seat." Mike sits uncomfortably on the sofa as Rena mixes in with his friends. "We were meant to meet here alone," Joe whispers to Rena. "This kid needs comforting too," Rena says, "Listen Mike, you are in a room full of people whose lives have sucked the big one. Ask them." "That's true," Josh says, before going quiet again. "Who is this guy?" Ben wonders. "Someone... who's giving up. And I don't want to let that happen," Rena announces. "We've all thought of giving up," Ben says sympathetically. "Ben here has been kidnapped by a crazy ex, Joe has been locked up by an insane therapist and Josh has been persecuted for crimes he didn't commit. And then some. For all of us. It's not fate, or karma, or God, or the universe... it just happens." "But why?" Mike asks sadly. Rena shrugs, "Why ask? The point is, they happen, and we have to make it through." "But I don't see how I can..." Mike utters. "But you can try," Rena assures him.
And so that's what he did...
Mike is in his bedroom sitting in a chair, looking down at the same photograph of himself, Desmond, Barrett and Andy that the latter committed suicide to. "I miss you guys so much..." Mike utters, "But, I have to move on. Just know..." tears stream down his face, "I will never forget you guys. Ever." He kisses the photograph and stands it up on his nightstand.
The ability to face desperation is an invaluable skill. For I guarantee that you will face it in your life. We can't just rely on life working itself out...
Flash to Barrett falling dead as he watches Ben run down the hallway with Liz and Emma.
And we can't just expect to be rewarded for our goodness and hard work...
Flash to Desmond smashing into the side of the bus as it collapses on its side.
And we can't always depend on a higher being...
Flash to Andy's body falls down dead from his wheelchair, following a gunshot, as his cross necklace falls from his hand.
...The ability to face desperation must come from within. From strength and acceptance. So when we face it, we can be prepared.
Mike is standing before Wiksteria High. He looks at it and smiles, before walking down the street.
Because the thing about desperation... it can happen to absolutely anyone.