MIRACLES ON ICE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
HUBRIS, NEMESIS, SURPRISE, BLOSSOMING LOVE

Jim and Carol hate Ronnie for all the right reasons.
A cold December evening on an outdoor ice rink is the setting for action, nemesis, and blossoming love.

Submitted: January 08, 2016

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Submitted: January 08, 2016

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MIRACLES ON ICE

A  Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

 

Wind brought mixed blessings to the outdoor rink. The surface was clear and smooth. Skates, sticks, and pucks moved about at rare speeds on the Douglas Haig Grade School ice rink. At the same time, an errant gust or two was more than enough to ruddy up the faces of anyone who stepped onto the frozen water.

With the advent of darkness about twenty minutes ago, most of the players made their fanciest ice-spraying stops at the gate in the boards nearest the school before stepping along a snowy path to the basement changing rooms.

Joe Penrose, the school Super, egged them on with a steady stream of complaints about his back; the lateness of the hour; (it was only a little after five and Joe was paid until five-thirty) what his wife would yell at him if he was late; and who are those bums still out there; and why aren’t they leaving; and who told them they could remain there; and maybe he should just turn off the lights and force them in; and he would: at five-thirty sharp.

Fortunately, Jim Case couldn’t hear any of Joe’s daily grousing, or the snorts of derision escaping from the captive hockey players. Only Jim, Ronnie Belmont, and Carol Smith remained on the rink. Carol was around the rink most days after high school. Although she, Jim, and Ronnie were much older than the other kids, they just skated and played tag before the younger kids had to leave, between four and four thirty before they opened the rink to the public. Jim never found out exactly why Carol was there on the ice that December evening. She didn’t even have skates on; only snow galoshes with monster treads and four wide black clips.

Ronnie, a middle-height chubby young man, was a rich smarmy jerk in Jim’s opinion. Belmont was two years older than Jim and faster in short sprints on land or ice, but always behind Jim in the longer distances. When Jim could wind up behind his own goal and start skating full speed, Belmont would have to stop him by center ice or Jim was gone.

Belmont was a junior at the high school. Jim was a sophomore. Jim was tall for his age—fourteen—and slim. Belmont was shorter but stocky—a good body-checker.

Carol? Well, Carol was quite tall, but not skinny. She had long black hair that shifted gracefully beside her high cheekbones according to her mood. The proportions of her face were perfect. Two blazing blue eyes set evenly on either side of a somewhat upturned nose. She had beguiling—almost haunting---good looks, and a contagious sense of humor. Carol’s rich laugh traveled miles, sometimes referred to as ‘rolling thunder’. Her comic timing about most situations was perfect, all of which jibed with Jim’s angular sense of humor. Like Jim, she hated Ronnie Belmont for all the right reasons.

Ronnie and Jim had this thing between them that neither was old enough to explain: they hated each other. Jim would occasionally wonder why he disliked Belmont so intensely. Belmont constantly wondered why he hated that bugger, Case. He couldn’t understand why he, a junior in high school—as well as the starting quarterback on the football team— even acknowledged the annoying existence of that same bugger. They had not squared off too many times; mainly because Jim played basketball and ran track, while Belmont played football and hockey. Both went to Douglas Haig, and from grade three on they were enemies.

*

Something said in class earlier in the day set Carol and Jim laughing. They left each other with smiles and warmth. They separately found their way to the rink around three-thirty. Jim didn’t know she was there. When he emerged from the boys’ changing room he promptly knocked Carol into a snowbank. They laughed while he picked her up, then, hesitatingly; he put his arm around her waist, gently helping her along their snowy route. He immediately saw she had no skates on; only her killer galoshes. Carol was good on galoshes. Most times, she was far more stable on the ice than most skaters.

*

Here they were again, Jim and Carol. And Belmont. Just the three of them on the expanse of frozen water inside the boards. Spasmodically, a disoriented gust flapped the fraying nets of the cheesy goals. The last of the younger kids left. Joe was at the gate hollering about five-thirty lights out. It was around five ten.

Ronnie cruised up to Jim with a sliding NHL stop, complete with a spray of ice projected in Jim’s direction.

“Case; want to take shots?” challenging, “or is it time for your beddy-bye?” truculent, with a full snigger. Jim Case’s mother enforced a rule requiring Jim to be in bed by 7:30. She told him this extra sleep would keep him healthy and growing. As a result, Jim was strong and unusually tall for his age.

“Sure, Ronnie; if your mother’s apron springs will stretch the length of the rink.” ‘So there.’

Carol laughed ‘that laugh’ and flashed a beamer at Jim.

“C’mon you babies; look: I’ll play goalie and that way neither of you will score and then we can all go home for supper. I’ll use this shovel for my stick.” She pulled out a new long-handled shovel with an aluminum base from the snowbank behind the boards. She knew Joe would be looking for it. Without waiting for an answer from the guys, she shimmered across the ice in a series of poetic dance movements, using the shovel for her balance and the trusty treads of her galoshes for traction. Ten seconds later, she was camped in front of the west goal, beginning to rough the ice around the crease and goalmouth with the sharp edge of her aluminum ‘goalie stick’.

The wind stopped.

Ronnie had the puck around the eastern blue line and began to skate toward Carol.

“I might as well go first, Case; put you in the hole right off the bat, eh?” He was crossing the red centerline and picking up speed. Jim threw up his arms; shrugging,

“A buck says you don’t score.”

“You’re on; fool,” Ronnie yelled over his shoulder before squaring up to consider his best move.

Carol crouched behind the long ergonomic handle of the shovel, and somewhat over the aluminum base. The business end of the new shovel was fashioned in a pronounced curve for the maximum load-lift of snow—or coal.

Ronnie immediately decided to fire a hard, low, hot one from just inside the blue line, figuring Carol would expect him to either shoot from a closer position or try to fake her out, and tuck the puck in the net behind her falling outstretched body—and her shovel.

Jim—probably Carol as well—discerned only a single blur consisting of a wind-up, a follow-through, and a vicious slap of the puck. Ronnie was just inside the blue line. The puck was a black smudge, screaming toward Carol and the goal.

In a nanosecond, the puck contacted the bottom half inch of the shovel blade, hurtled through the curved center section, and shot out the top of the blade in a rising trajectory toward Ronnie. Abruptly, Ronnie was knees-down on the ice crying sissy screams, while he held the bottom halves of his two front teeth in his blood-soaked hands.

Jim rushed at top speed, like a man injected with the power of a new love. He pulled up in a shower of ice, grabbed a wide-eyed Carol Smith around the shoulders and gave her a long kiss on the lips, followed by:

“Nice save.”

THE END


© Copyright 2020 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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