Coach Henden is going to take a puck to the face. All the parents of the B-level kids agree it’s coming; it’s a favourite topic of conversation as we wait for our bitter canteen coffee before our little Hornets in their “gold” (yellow) jerseys stumble onto the ice for the first period. We’ve got a pool on which of the kids on Henden’s Triple-A team will be the culprit and how many months into the season it’ll happen. I say Rogan Flieger before the end of January; he’s got the hardest and most accurate wrist shot any of us has seen on a 12-year old. I saw him moping in the parking lot one time, hours after his practice had finished, when my son Kevin and I arrived at the rink for Kevin’s practice. When I asked Rogan where his mom was he pushed past me leaving a trail of little boy musk and fury. But he lives just down the road so I figured he’d be alright making his own way home. He isn’t a bad kid, just competitive. Fiery, Coach Henden called him, “like myself.”
Hey, this is for The Sake of Soul, minus rock and roll. I got news for you. I got blues for you. I got things for you to do. Dig what I say. Hear what I play. We gonna fill the hole in your soul, with the best of the blues.
FEBRUARY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST often contains days that conjure up the image of what a chamber in hell might look like if one were ever to be closed for maintenance. The sky resembles an upside down pale kiln with scummy, pinkish streaks on its surface not unlike colonies of bacteria sprouting in rancid cream; the earth below assumes a grim, ragged face consistent with that of a person who is going through chemotherapy, and the Puget Sound—which the ancient Nisqually People considered their God’s moodstone—boils and tosses and recycles endless shades of gray.
”You see this meadow, boy? It was a swamp before we moved here. One of the conditions for buying the mansion and the adjoining land was that I paid to have it fixed and also the beach. You enjoy the beach, right boy? The restoration of the pier as well. How do the villagers repay us? They let their dogs shit on the meadow. They shit on the meadow, boy. They want me to pick it up… Look out the window! There’s Andersson with his ugly daughter.” Erik stopped and rolled down the car window. “HEY! Andersson! Pick up after your shitty daughter’s shitty dog! Or I will empty my septic tank all over your ugly house. I’d do you that favour. The shit glaze would probably raise the property value.”