“Boy, what a treat: we got to meet the man who runs the good ole U-S-of-A. He really cares, taking time from meeting with his important friends from Russia to wish us luck. That was cool,” said Ghoul, who leaned in. “But why is he all orange? Was it from ‘Nam?”
Laughter exploded from my gullet like a drunk pelican. A sentry dressed in black suit and tie opened the door for us. I could tell he heard Ghoul, and that him bringing his wrist up to his mouth was to conceal a deep chuckle, and not whisper to his fellow secret servicemen.
“Nah, bone spurs kept him stateside,” I said. “I don’t think those tiny hands could’ve squeezed the trigger on a rifle, anyways.”
“Draft dodger,” Ghoul seethed, and a strained voice hollered something about building a wall to keep out illegal voters before the door closed.
A sight far from the fabricated mess of hypocrisy and nonsense greeted us. I felt my stomach lurch and I could tell Ghoul was hit with an adequate level of fear when his complexion shifted from beautiful burnt sienna, to ashen rot.
“How can this be?” I stammered.
“Heaven help us.”
There was an Olympic sized rink with an Olympic sized Crowd gathered on bleachers atop Knowlton Lake. I couldn’t tell whom sat on either side of the rink; protesters segregated, American or Russian fans. Either way, my question as to how the ice was holding everyone piqued my interest, but more importantly, was there a heaven?
“Yeah, is there an afterlife? You’d know, right?” I asked Ghoul as we followed our body-armored escort to the staging area.
“I’m not going to spoil the surprise,” he said, and he winked. “Can you help me? Eyelid is stuck again.”
“Oh, sure,” I forced it open, and in doing so, ruptured his cornea. “I don’t think anyone will notice.” Gelatinous pus dribbled down his cheek. “Just wipe your face with something before we get on the ice.”
He sopped the discharge with the inside sleeve of his puffy shirt. It didn’t help at all, and I knew we were in trouble. Our path led beside the bleacher’s entrance, and on the first row sat a scattered group of handicapped veterans.
“Hey thanks for your service,” Ghoul bent down and shook the hand of one grizzled woman who was built like a rough whiskey barrel. “I’m gonna borrow this. American thanks you.”
Ghoul yanked her eyepatch clear from her head. She screamed foul obscenities and rose to give chase, but her footing failed, and she fell on the coarse ice with a slap.
“That was close. How does this look?”
“You’re an asshole. And you know what?”
“You look awesome. Well played, sir.”
We found our bench and the announcer took the center ice. A jumbo screen flashed to life, bringing a clear picture of his face.
“Is that… Mike Myers?” I asked myself.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate to have a fictional serial killer engaged in something like this, Sam. Come on now.”
I wanted to explain the differences, and furthermore, suggest to Ghoul that he brush up on nineties and early two-thousands comedies, but I knew the moment was meant for focusing on the task at hand. Ghoul… he gets distracted easily. I don’t know the exact workings of his mind, or how the nervous system works in his post-life state, but what I do understand—and this is from experience, mind you—is that a heavy thought to Ghoul, like someone sharing a name with a fictional character, brings about a state of immediate befuddlement that leads to unstoppable convulsions.
“I’ll tell you when we get home.”
And with that, Mike Myers did a few front flips and break-dance moves, and spoke to us with that lovable smile.
“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages, friends from all over the world, welcome to Knowlton’s first Ice Skating Championship,” he paused to allow the crowd a chance to roar with applause. “You’re here today to witness not only an immense spectacle of individual competitions—ranging from our youth divisions to singles free style—and to cap it off we have two teams battling for a spot as the number one duo in Men’s Pair Skating.”
The crowd erupted and Mike went through the afternoons events: youth singles and pairs, followed by a varsity hockey match; college singles and pairs with a special treat afterwards; topping it all off, our turn against the Russian’s. Our faces appeared on the screen. Ghoul’s eyepatch was on the wrong eye. I didn’t know how I missed it, but I did, and when he swapped sides, the crowd transformed from disgust to adulation. A portioned revealed Anatoli and Viktor in their trailer. They passed a bottle of vodka between them while stretching. Boos and audible chants of awful intent crushed the atmosphere, and Ghoul did something that I didn’t expect.
He stood, and clapped.
And I joined him.
“Why are we doing this?” I asked.
“Because it’s the right thing to do. Russia may be seen as an enemy, but we’re here to compete in good nature, and I want to skate knowing that I am doing the right thing as a sportsman, and not a bloodthirsty individual.”
A slow ripple of transformations occurred, and soon enough, the entire audience was on their feet, applauding along with us.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.