"Night Skate"

Date: 
12/19/2015

Nick Gecan wrote this piece several years ago. Now, in honor of and as an inspiration to everyone of all ages to be involved with WickerICE, he shares this story.

BoySkating

He sat in front of his fire place staring into the flames as they burned low above their red embers. He sipped his bourbon, which slowly was taking effect. The combination of heat and alcohol made the gray haired man sleepy and calm. He continued to stare into the fire and his mind drifted back to another time when, as a young boy, he sat in front of another fire. 

He sat on a wooden bench in front of a large potbelly stove. His thick corduroy pants were wet with patches of melted snow. His old coat and two sweaters were steaming as the outside cold met the warmth of the hot cast iron. 

He removed his hat and rubbed his large red ears. They seemed to burn as they began to thaw. His flat top haircut had icicles hanging form the tips of his hair. His fingers were stiff from the cold and he blew into his fists warming them. 

He looked down at his feet and saw his skates. They were an old pair of brown hand-me-down hockey skates. They had scuffmarks all over them. There was no telling how many kids had worn them over the years. They were a little big for him but he filled them with three pairs of sweat socks.  

Mr. Brown, of Brown’s Hardware, had done a masterful job of sharpening them. He was a cutlery genius and a wonderful man as well. He wiped the freshly honed blades with his gloves and they gleamed in the fire as old man Kelly opened the stove door and placed more wood into the fire. The room smelled of smoke and the air had a misty quality to it. The wooden benches were full of kids putting on their skates and tightening their laces. It was a cozy happy place full of laughter, smiles and innocence.     

The young boy's hands had thawed and he tightened his laces. He rose and walked over the splintered floorboards, which years of kids walking on skates had created. The door opened and he walked into the falling snow. It was night and the only lights came from a large yellow light over a telephone pole out in front of the wooden shack.  

He gazed out on to the ice covered football field of 75th street. Across the pond he noticed roofs of the Thunderbird Motel. They arched up like bird wings as they slowly rose in the air. Behind him was the lake blowing its snowy wind and causing drifts of great height. All around the ice pond were large piles of snow that had been plowed off the ice.  

Hundreds of kids were playing king of the mountain and throwing snowballs at each other. On the ice, great games of tag were being played. He could hear the ice crunch as his old CCM’s cut and gouged the ice.  

He skated to the south end zone of the field. There were the metal goal posts rising out of the snow bank. He climbed the snow hill and rested against the pole. The snow sparkled in the night-light as he gazed up at a full moon. It was a most unusual moon. It had a complete rainbow encircling it. Like the prism of a glass or sprinkler on a summer day, the winter snow had created this perfect misty rainbow all around the full moon. Many of the kids stopped their play and just stared up at the multicolored sphere. He had never seen the moon like this before nor would he again.  

He climbed down the hill and skated back to the shack. It was time to call it a night. He went back to the shack and removed his skates. It always felt so good to put his shoes back on after hours in the skates. He started home. He could hear the rumbling of the IC roaring down Exchange Ave. headed to its Windsor Park stop. A block away on 74th street home awaited. 

The old man poured himself a second glass of Bourbon and drew on his cigar. He smiled into the fire and remembered the wonderful winters of his youth. He remembered those friends and places when the Shores of the South turned white and the football field turned to ice. He felt blessed.  

Seasons Greetings,

El Greco

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