Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ten









"Meet us at the ice-skating rink," Erik says. "We want to go ice-skating."

"It's closed," I answer. "I don't have ice-skates."

"Who is it?" Merna asks. "What does it want?"

"Ice-skating," I say. "They want to go ice-skating."

There's a wooden owl glued to the roof-peak. The owl faces down on the front-yard with fierce angled eyebrows and a violent curved beak. I touch its textured body and think about eating little birds and bugs and field-mice and air-hunting for little unsuspecting birds.

"Just meet us there," Erik says. "Aaron's got connections. We can use the rental skates and go ice-skating and I'll drive the zamboni, I think. It'll be fucking cool."

"Who?" Merna asks.

I put my hand over my cell-phone. "My stupid little lovers," I say to Merna.

"Listen," Erik says. "We're breaking into the ice-skating rink. I bet that makes you want to come. We'll commit unspeakable crimes. I've already kidnapped and slaughtered the little black sheep, you know, high school mascot and stuff. Who knows what I'll do next?" Erik is laughing and distantly I can hear Aaron laughing too. "Bring your bathing suit."

I turn off my cell-phone. "We're going ice-skating," I say.

"I'll drive," Merna says.

Merna's car is red and very narrow. We sit close and the windshield is large and bubble-like and the windshield reflects our images and I watch our reflected images as the car moves slowly from streetlight to streetlight. Outside is very dark and cold and a stiff wind shakes the car. The moon is somewhere.

"There's a dog in your trunk?" I ask.

"It's okay. I had a garbage-bag."

"Oh…"

"I didn't mean to hit the dog, but I turned my head for a second and it was there and there was a sound, like a bark, and then there was no sound. Who lets their own dog run around at night, especially a black dog, a practically invisible black dog? I'm not a murderer. It was an accident."

"I could be a murderer," I say quietly.

"What'd you say?"

"I said 'you don't have to convince me.'"

"Do you think they'll be mad at me and say I did it purposely and call the Police?"

"Who?"

"The owners. Mindy and Matthew, I think. They're pretty old. They might have forgotten the dog by now. Old people forget things."

"Maybe," I say.

"You don't think so?"

"They're probably searching for the dog right now." I look at Merna and Merna's face is very pretty and heart-shaped and her skin is smooth and soft-looking, and Merna's hair is neatly arranged and pinned in place and Merna's shirt is very balanced and she is beautiful and professional and bright. "Mindy's probably crying right now. Mindy's crying and looking for her little dog and Matthew is angry and punching his kitchen wall repeatedly. He promised to never let Mindy cry but he's powerless now, probably powerless for the first time ever and he feels angry and hurt and he doesn't know why and his fists are bleeding and there are asymmetrical holes in their kitchen walls and Matthew and Mindy are probably inconsolable so they go upstairs to the study with the abandoned-barn-paintings and pull the decorative shotgun from the wall and load the shotgun with buckshot and brace it against the floor and blast themselves, one by one, through the mouth." I say all this while staring straight ahead, then I turn to Merna.

"Thank you very much." Merna watches the road. We're waiting at an intersection. The light's red, but there are no cars, and the ice-skating rink is just ahead. "There," Merna says.

The ice-skating rink is a large flat-roofed rectangle with wide glass doors and a wall of tall scratched windows. All the windows are dark. "What time is it?" I ask.

"Ten-fifteen."

"Park the car."






Merna, Anastasia, and me were here, at the ice-skating rink, and it was Sunday and noon and the noon-skate had just begun. I was fourteen years old. Dozens of people were skating in bright red holiday-sweaters. Merna, Anastasia, and me wore matching blue snow-parkas with large floppy hoods. The floors and walls and ice seemed knit together from some uncommon fiber, something simultaneously hard and soft and each time I took a step the floor recoiled a little from my foot and I bounced slightly and each wall was very far from every other wall and I felt unbalanced and dizzy.

"I want figure-skates," Merna said. "So I can spin around and stuff."

Anastasia looked at the ice. "I want hockey-skates," she said. "I'm going to be a hockey player and I'm going to borrow a hockey stick."

I touched the counter of the rental-skate booth and showed my little ticket and asked for skates. We laced up our skates on the narrow wood bench and waddled slowly, hand in hand, toward the ice. The ice was very clear and slick and wet and we stepped out onto the ice and slid and pushed and slid.

"Don't let me fall," I said. "I don't want to fall. I don't want people to laugh at me if I fall. I don't want people laughing at me hurting myself when I fall."

Merna spun and moved off. "You'll be fine," she said. Merna skated backwards with her head turned over her left shoulder, neatly avoiding a little black-haired boy and his mother then leapt into the air and spun a full circle.

I looked down at Anastasia and held Anastasia's hand and touched Anastasia's hair which was soft and black and shoulder-length. "You're a good skater," I said.

"Oh," Anastasia said. Anastasia pushed off from me. "I'm taking lessons and now I can skate backwards too and I can stop without crashing." She demonstrated. "Here comes Merna!" she said.

I turned.

Merna slapped my face, laughing, as she skated by. Anastasia was laughing and I watched Anastasia's mouth move with the laughs and expose her little white teeth and her little pink tongue and the little tongue motioned at me. I wobbled a little. Anastasia skated toward me and bumped me with her hip. "It's easy," she said. I wobbled and slid sideways and looked at my skates and my skates were loose and white and the skate-blades wobbled and shook and I crumpled slowly to the cold ice. I spread out and slid and looked up and there was a fat woman in a fat woman sweater moving slowly, inexorably toward me and I pulled into a little ball but it didn't matter.

The fat woman skated over my hand.

My pinky-finger was on the ice with blood and water and I screamed and the fat woman toppled onto me and crushed me and I reached for my pinky-finger but it slid away and people skated around my pinky-finger until my pinky-finger disappeared so I cried quietly to myself and said, "My finger, my finger, my finger," until the fat woman rolled, apologizing, off of me and skated shamelessly away.






"Help me get the dog," Merna says.

The dog's in Merna's trunk in a black garbage-bag tied in a ball-like knot and stuffed between a red plastic toolbox and an X-shaped tire-iron, very blue and scratched and menacing. The tire-iron seems wonderfully balanced and solid and my fingers touch the tire-iron's cool metal and trace the tire-iron's smooth ridges. We each grab a double-handful of garbage-bag and lift and just before Merna slams her trunk shut I snag the tire-iron.

"Where's Aaron?" I ask.

"Inside," Erik says. "I'm going to drive the zamboni. Come on, come on!"

"Carry this," I say. Merna and I toss the garbage-bag to Erik.

"What's in here?" Erik asks.

"Bathing suits," Merna says.

Inside the ice is floodlighted. Everything else is dark. Erik runs ahead and hops the low white wall loosing garbage-bag mid-flight and Erik and the dead dog hit the ice then slide tangentially. Merna and I put on skates and wobble slowly onto the ice. I side-arm the tire-iron and the tire-iron skims toward the garbage-bag.

"Did the dog just move?" Merna asks.

"I don't know."

We skate toward the zamboni. The garbage-bag tumbles sideways blob-like and amorphous and the garbage-bag fold and flutters and bubbles. Aaron and Erik are standing near the zamboni.

"What the fuck is that?" Aaron says.

"How was your meeting?" I ask.

"Garbage-bag," says Merna.

Erik says, "Why did you bring a tire-iron?"

Aaron touches the garbage-bag.

"Not a tire-iron," I say. "My new pet."

Aaron tears a hole in the garbage-bag and the little black dog erupts from the hole and bounces off Aaron's leg barking and spitting and snapping its jaws. "Fuck," Aaron says. Aaron dodges and slips and waves his arms.

"It's alive," Merna says.

The dog shoots across the ice, bumping the walls then redirecting itself along sudden wicked tangents. We scatter to avoid the dog and the dog's barks and howls are long and high-pitched and the dog is a solid black shape with a wet mouth and wet claws and little dangerous white teeth and little clear globules of saliva that tremble on the tips of its teeth and from its thin black lips.

Erik moves toward the dog, carefully holding the blue tire-iron. "I'll get it," he says.

Aaron's on the zamboni and the zamboni is moving.

Erik corners the dog near the front wall and lunges with the tire-iron but misses and the tire-iron hits the wall and bounces over the wall and there is a crack and a ringing sound. "Shit!" Erik holds his elbow sort of desperately.

The dog zips toward the middle of the ice. I jump into the zamboni next to Aaron and jerk the steering wheel and the zamboni lurches sluggishly at the dog. "How do you speed this thing up?" I ask Aaron.

"Don't know."

"Save the dog!" Merna says. "The dog's alive."

"I've got it." Erik's moving. Erik's skating flat-footed toward the dog with a large round-mouthed smile. "Here doggie," he says. "Calm doggie. Don't want to hurt you doggie."

"We have to kill that thing," I say.

"Just a dog," Aaron says.

"Look at the teeth." I grab the zamboni's steering wheel and redirect the zamboni toward the dog. The dog stops mid-ice and slowly scratches its back with its hind-leg. "Now I've got it."

The dog's licking the ice halfway between the zamboni and Erik and Erik runs and I pull levers and depress peddles and push buttons but the zamboni moves at a constant speed.

Erik scoops up the dog and pets the dog and nuzzles the dog with his face.

Aaron stops the zamboni.

"Drop the dog," I say. "I'm going to smash it."

"It's a nice dog." Erik holds the dog high. "See, just didn't want to be in a plastic bag. Most living things don't want to be in plastic bags. That's like a standard principle."

"We have to kill the dog," I say. "That dog bit me when I was little, when I was eight or nine years old, and I was walking with Merna and it was sunny and bright and a little wind moved the trees and then there was this stupid stupid dog running around without a leash or collar or anything and I tried to pet the dog and it opened its jaws and snapped its jaws over my arm and tore my arm-skin and my arm-muscles and there was blood, okay."

"It was probably stuck in a plastic bag for a while. That's what I'd do if I were stuck in a plastic bag."

"Don't worry, she's lying," Merna said. "It was a different dog, and it wasn't her that got bit. It was some neighbor girl."

"Be quiet," I say to Merna.

"You're being dramatic," Merna says. "She was a junior-thespian, you know, in high-school."

Aaron stops the Zamboni. "Probably doesn't matter," he says. "It's just a dog."

"She was Lady Macbeth."

"I want that dog dead," I say. "It's a terrible dog, a terribly violent dog and it deserves to die here on the ice and then to be abandoned here, maybe tied, you know, spread-eagled to the wall with little cursive-like trails of blood on the ice or we could tie its little dead carcass to the zamboni like it's driving the zamboni in a cute way like a dog-driving-zamboni calendar and it could wear a little baseball-hat and sports-jersey but with a butterfly-knife stuck in its eye." I hop down from the zamboni. Erik holds the dog away from me. "I won't hurt it yet," I say. "This will take planning."

"Hello?" It's a man's voice, from near the front wall. There is a rustling sound and a creaking. "Who the fuck's there?"

"Shit," Aaron whispers. "Hide."

The dog barks.

We all scatter and hide behind the white half-wall except Erik. Erik stands silently with the dog in his arms.

"Drop the dog and hide," I whisper at Erik.

"I can't," Erik says. "I don't want the dog to die."

Aaron is next to me and he smiles at me then Aaron sneaks along the wall, holding his body low. Aaron looks at me and places his finger over his lips. Aaron whispers the word, "Flank."

A flashlight's light appears and then a man. The man stares at Erik and the dog and then the zamboni. The man's a security-guard with a security-guard uniform and a security-guard hat and a security-guard belt with a security-guard radio and a security-guard baton and he approaches with his security-guard walk. "You know," the security-guard says. "This ice-skating rink is closed." The security-guard steps onto the ice through the wide break in the wall.

"Umm," says Erik. "I lost my dog and my dog went in here and I followed my dog, see." Erik holds the dog forward. "It's probably a case of mistaken identity."

The security guard removes his radio from his belt.

Aaron appears behind the security-guard. "Hi," Aaron says. Aaron's holding the blue tire-iron. "I'm sorry," Aaron says. "You'll be okay. Everything's okay." Aaron whacks the security-guard's head with the tire-iron and the tire-iron bounces back from the security-guard's head and there is a little blood and silence and the security-guard tumbles forward. The security-guard is a lumpy uniformed shape on the ice and little thin columns of steam rise around him. "It'll be okay probably," Aaron says to the security-guard's prone body.

7 comments:

amber said...

holy shit. this all changed quite suddenly.

MadisonGlass said...

Yeah. The ending on this chapter is definitely better than the first one you showed me. I think it needs to be cut down a bit though. But of course it's great. You are brilliant and beautiful and I hate you and your stupid success.
Love
Maddi

Ofelia said...

This chapter is too long. I cut about 200 words this morning. I'll probably do that again this evening and then repost.

Amber, is the sudden change just awkward and confusing? I don't know.

amber said...

no. not awkward and confusing. just sudden. like this sort of human (and I am kind of using that term loosely) story just became a suspense novel kind of sudden. surprising in a nice way. i suppose i expected a plot twist more in the vein of "this is why she's so fucked up and a compulsive liar," but instead seems refreshingly capable of reinventing the genre novel, and i like it.

Ofelia said...

Okay I cut things and add other things and I think the last part is better. I will need to edit more though. But I will do that later when I edit the whole thing.

MadisonGlass said...

This is much, much better. Read's quicker. No skimming. The ending's even better than when it was even better.

One consideration. As someone who's had a head wound, I have to say that "a little blood" is highly improbable, though I do understand that you want downplay the damage. Don't want to think he's dead. I don't know.

Good. Good-good.

jhon said...

Definitely!! You have no idea how cool I think it would be to rock out on stage, belting out amazing tunes. Of course, I’d be stick skinny and probably dress like Joan Jett. I’d want to kick-ass but have a soft side too. Insulated cooler bag