Thursday, March 3, 2011


Alright. I don`t know a lot about Hockey, father/son relationships, figure skating or divorce. However, I do know a little about Gabe and the violent shadow people living in his head, and if you missed out on that, please direct your attention to Sabotage. I've rewritten it since, but whatever.


Gabe skated over the ice, the cool air whipping over his face and arms.  He went fast, covering the distance from one end of the rink to the other with a few strides, then swooping around the ends. He could hear his heart drumming, the only sound besides his breath and the metallic sound of his skates on the rinks surface.
He stopped, sending a spray of ice up onto the boards.  He glided over to the bench and grabbed his water bottle. He drank, and then paused, surveying the dimly lit rink. There was one net, floating alone at the far end of the ice. He picked up his stick and a bucket full of pucks, and made his way to the center of the rink.
He fired the pucks at the net, the crack of impact echoing loudly.  When the bucket was empty, he collected them and began firing them off again, this time from the blue line. A good half of his shots ended up outside the net now, but he continued until the bucket was empty once more. He paused a moment, before skating down the rink to collect the pucks once more.
“What team do you play for?” A voice asked from the stands.
Gabe looked up, startled. “What?”
There was a man, sitting in the third row, watching him. “What team do you play for? Downsview Flyers? Mulgrove Lions? You’re not university, I’d recognize you.”
“Neither.” Gabe replied.
“You play for one of the big cities?”
Gabe shook his head. “I don’t play.”
“Come on, kid, with a slap shot like that, teams would be fighting for you.” The man looked flabbergasted, unable to understand.
“I don’t play.” Gabe repeated.
“So you mean to tell me you’re here, in the middle of the night, practicing a god know how many miles an hour slap shot, for fun?”
“Yeah.” Gabe shrugged.
“How’d you get in here anyway? Do you go to this school?”
“My Dad’s the coach.”
“Really?” The man leaned back, scrutinizing Gabe. “You’re Levi’s boy, and you’ve got a slap shot like that, and you don’t play? Pull the other one, kid, it’s got bells on it.” He laughed harshly, the sound echoing. “There’s no way Levi would let you not play.”
“He can’t exactly force me.”  Gabe said bitterly. “And he’s not thrilled that he can’t let me tell you.”
Gabe looked at him and waited, but the man didn’t say anything more.  “When I asked him if I could get rink time here was probably the best conversation we had.” He said. He immediately wished he hadn’t. The man’s expression changed from incredulity to sympathy in a matter of seconds.
“Your Dad is one of my best friends.” The man said. “He never talks about you, not really. Just in passing. I remember a few months ago, he was pissed because you were in a figure skating competition.” He paused. “I figured that you were a nancy boy, not a six foot tall kid with one of the best slap shots I’ve ever seen.”
“I just sort of got roped into the figure skating thing.” Gabe shrugged. “I was helping Luce with her routine, and her instructor asked me to do some work with the advanced class, doing lifts and stuff. I wouldn’t have done it, but Luce convinced me.”
The man laughed. “Your little sister always seems to get her way. I’ve only met her a few times, but you can tell she’s stubborn.”
Gabe smiled. “Yeah. I don’t get to see her that often, because she lives with Dad, so I agreed. Dad came to the show thing they put on at the end of the year, and I did a routine with the top student. He couldn’t even look at me afterwards.  Just asked if he should have brought another thing of flowers for his ‘other daughter’. I just about punched him. I would have, but it was Lucy’s night, not mine. I wasn’t going to ruin it for her.”
The man was silent for a few minutes. “You don’t talk a lot, do you?” He asked. When Gabe looked at him questioningly, he continued. “If I asked you the right questions, you’d probably tell me your life story right now.”
“No, I-“
The man held up a hand to stop him. “I’m not judging. I can tell you’re one of those kids who doesn’t have a lot of friends, and you’ve got a lot of anger built up, and nowhere to vent it. So you come out here to deal with everything when it gets too much. You run over everything in your mind, imagine that those pucks have your fathers face on them. That’s how you deal with it all, ain’t it?”
“I guess so.” Gabe admitted.
“Hockey is where I went too. I played on a team, mind.” He paused. “Why don’t you?”
“I got in a fight with a kid.”
“So? That’s normal. Encouraged, even.”
“I broke his nose, knocked out a few of his teeth, and I think I might have cracked one of his ribs.”
The man let out a low whistle. “That’s some serious damage.”
“Yeah.” Gabe snapped. “I know. I don’t want to do that to someone else.”
“Then don’t.” The man shrugged.” Simple as that.”
Gabe clenched both hands around his hockey stick, his knuckles glaring white from his skin. “It’s never that simple.”
“No? Why not?”
Gabe glared at the man. The man glared back, challenge in his gaze. “I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I would be likely to hurt someone.”
 “You look like you want to hit me right now. Why don’t you?” He laughed. “You seem to have a low opinion of your self-control.”
Gabe snapped the stick in half and tossed the pieces to the ice.  “That was one of those ‘virtually unbreakable’ ones.”
The man gaped at him. “But-How?-Did-“He stopped. “Shoddy workmanship. Probably made in China. The material was compromised because of the stress you put on it from shots.”
“Whatever.” Gabe shrugged, and returned to picking up the pucks. “You’re welcome to try, if you’d like.”
There was silence as Gabe finished gathering the pucks and the pieces of his broken stick. He placed them on the bench, and started laps of the rink again. The arena filled with the silvery sounds of his skates pounding against the ice. The older man didn’t say another word until Gabe had untied his skates and was putting on his shoes.
“How often do you come here?”
“At least once a week,” Gabe answered. “Sometimes three or four times.”
“You want to run through drills with the team, at all?” He asked. “They’ve gotten complacent. A younger kid showing them up might get them to work harder.”
“Sure.” Gabe shrugged. “If I’m not busy, anyway.”
“I’ll talk to your Dad about it, and get him to give you a call.”
“Sounds good.” Gabe paused. “Can you tell him I broke my stick? I’m gonna need a new one.”
“Sure, kid.” The man looked like he wanted to say something else, but Gabe didn’t give him the chance.
He walked out of the arena, into the warm night air. He looked back at the building and shook his head. If his father called, he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to answer it. Maybe it would feel good to play hockey properly again. Maybe it would help him to talk to his father. Maybe there was nothing wrong with him, maybe everyone had the same violent impulses as him. Maybe. But Gabe never was one to take a chance on maybes.

PS. Downsview and Mulgrove are both fictional places. They're from My Soul To Keep.


  1. Hockey sticks, especially fancy unbreakable ones, are damn expensive. Silly teenage whimsy, he has no value for a dollar.

  2. Why would he care? He's had that stick since he actually played Hockey. Like 3 or 4 years earlier. Plus his father would be delighted to buy him a new one, you have no idea.